After a lull, kidnappings have returned to the Abuja-Kaduna expressway forcing many commercial drivers abandoning their business.
Tension and apprehension have returned to the Kaduna-Abuja expressway following the renewed rise of activities of bandits with reports of killings and kidnapping of many people for ransom, a situation that is forcing thousands of commuters to travel by train and leaving commercial drivers in limbo.
The bandits had recently killed three persons and kidnapped many people, among them three final year students of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. They were later released with reports of alleged payment of ransom by relatives even as many other victims are said to remain in custody of the criminals.
The worse hit by the recent upsurge of the bandits’ activities are the commercial taxi drivers plying the Kaduna-Abuja route because the situation is gradually forcing them out of business apart from falling victims themselves and losing huge amounts of money.
Head of drivers at the Command Motor Park in Kaduna, Emmanuel Ameh, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the gunmen are attacking and kidnapping people every day. Ameh said he narrowly escaped the attack when the bandits attacked and kidnapped people at a bridge after Rijana village around 8pm.
According to him, it was the gunshots and people who escaped from the incident by the roadside that alerted him. He pointed out that on reaching Rijana after the attack, there were belongings of the victims littered on the road. Ameh said: “What baffled me is the gunmen usually change location from one point to another while the police stay at one locations. The police officers don’t patrol the road. If you are able to escape and report to the police officers they will tell you they don’t have fuel to go anywhere.”
Ameh revealed that a good number of the commercial drivers in the park had decided to abandon their vehicles for fear of being killed or kidnapped by the gunmen. “I also abandoned my vehicle because of the fear and continued attacks and kidnapping of people on the expressway,” he explained.
Ameh appealed to both federal and state governments to get to the roots of the whole thing, adding that police should also patrol the stretch of the highway. “The police should track the gunmen in their hideouts and bring them out because staying at checkpoints would not solve the problem. You hardly find the police moving on the road,” he said.
Daily Trust on Sunday observed that the trend with the Kaduna-Abuja expressway is in-between police checkpoints are where the bandits operate.
On his part, the Provost of the Command Motor Park in Kaduna, Austin Alfred, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the bandits attack commuters at a notorious spot around Olam Farm. “One of our drivers who escaped the attack is right now receiving medical treatment in the hospital. In the last month, three of our drivers were affected, two were kidnapped and one was injured.
“The incident happened around Olam Farm. One of our drivers and a passenger got injured while trying to escape the gunshots of the bandits. Our colleagues evacuated the vehicles from the area to a mechanic garage for repairs,” Alfred said.
Alfred decried the situation many commercial drivers had abandoned their jobs because of precarious security conditions of the Kaduna-Abuja expressway. According to him, nobody wants to risk their lives by plying the Kaduna-Abuja road, after 2pm. “None of the drivers want to ply the road except those from Abuja who want to return home and can pick passengers back.”
Alfred appealed to the government and security agencies to re-examine the security architecture on the expressway, adding, “Government should deploy officials of the Nigeria Security Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to the Kaduna-Abuja road since the police alone have not been able to tackle the kidnapping problem. Government should try another paramilitary on the road because I remember when passengers from Abuja airport were transferred to Kaduna and there was security problems on the road and NSCDC were deployed to the specific spot, the problems was tackled.”
The Kaduna State Police Command confirmed one of the incidents in a statement by its spokesman DSP Yakubu Sabo, saying, that armed men in military uniform intercepted some commuters along Kaduna-Abuja expressway and opened fire on the vehicles and in the process kidnapped six persons.
The statement reads in parts “…However, due to the prompt response of the police and other security agents to the scene, three people were later released by the hoodlums due to intensive combing within the general area. The rescued persons alongside the abandoned vehicles were recovered to police station. Concerted efforts are still being coordinated by the joint teams of Anti-Kidnapping Unit, PMF and the IRT to rescue the remaining three victims and apprehend the perpetrators of the crime.”
Effort to speak with the Kaduna State Police Command Public Relations Officer, DSP Yakubu Sabo over the recent incidents and alleged attitude of their men was unsuccessful.