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How kidnappers use poisonous snakes to terrorise us – Victims

Abducted victims recently freed from captivity have revealed that kidnappers used poisonous snakes to terrorise them. Some of them, who recounted their ordeals in separate…

Abducted victims recently freed from captivity have revealed that kidnappers used poisonous snakes to terrorise them.

Some of them, who recounted their ordeals in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said that there were many snakes in the forests inhabited by the bandits.

They said that the snakes often bite both the kidnappers and the victims.

One of them, who craved anonymity, told NAN that kidnappers threw them into snake-infested spots.

“The kidnappers know the areas infested with snakes and would often throw the victims there.

“Immediately they see snakes, the fear-stricken victims will want to run away. The sight is used to frighten people.

“That is the time a victim can ask friends and family members to sell everything – house, land, cars, household items, shoes, just everything – to raise the ransom.”

NAN investigation revealed that the worst snake-infested forests are in Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State, and Kala-Balge, near Lake Chad, in Borno.

Other areas included Shaki in Oyo State, Borgu and Kagara in Niger, Karim Lamido in Adamawa, and Lau in Taraba.

Some of the victims told NAN that the situation is worse now with the current heat as snakes leave their holes in search of fresh air and food.

“The nights are often more traumatising. You are left outside, in the dark, and a reptile may just creep through your legs.

“While I was in captivity, snakes bit some victims. The kidnappers were not spared as some of them also got bitten,” a victim, who was taken to a thick forest in Kagara, in Niger, told NAN.

According to him, in Kagara forest, the snakes are so common that the locals refer to them as “kadangarun Kagara (Kagara lizards).”

Prof. Abdulsalam Nasidi, Chairman, Echitap Study Group, the outfit in charge of Echitap Anti-Snake Venom (ASV), who spoke on the development, confirmed that banditry was associated with areas prone to snake bites.

Nasidi, whose group collaborates with Micropharm UK Ltd and Instituto Clodomiro Picardo (ICP), Costa Rica, to bring the drugs to Nigeria, decried the rising cases of snake bites in Nigeria.

“Unfortunately for us, the cost of snake bite treatment has gone well beyond the reach of the poor,” he said.

While confirming that some abductees indeed returned with snakebite wounds, he said that the cost of treatment could only be affordable if the ASV drugs were produced locally.

“The ASV manufacturers are ready to collaborate with us to produce the ASV in Nigeria.

“It is only when we produce ASV locally in Nigeria that we can make it available at a reduced cost.

“The rise in the value of the dollar has made the cost of foreign production so high that the poor man who, in most cases, is the victim of snake bites, cannot afford it.

“In the past, villagers used to contribute money to purchase ASV, that is no longer possible.

“An ample of the Echitap G ASV, which takes care of venoms from a carpet viper, costs 59 Pounds factory price. 97 per cent of poisonous snake bite cases in Nigeria are from carpet vipers.

“For Echitap plus ICP ASV, which treats venom from puff adder, carpet viper and black cobra, an ample is 24 dollars factory price.

“If you add the cost of transportation from the two countries – UK and Costa Rica – plus the charges for clearance at the ports, the price becomes a different thing.”

He identified the most poisonous snakes in Nigeria as carpet viper, puff adder and black cobra.

“But, we even have an equally dangerous snake – Black Mamba – in Abuja. So, we also need an ASV for it,” he said.

According to him, in the past, Nigerians bitten by snakes had a 40 per cent chance of survival.

“But, if the black mamba is added, the chances shrink to 10 per cent. It means we desperately need to produce ASV locally,” he said.

On kidnappers deliberately exposing their victims to snakes, he pointed out that snakes do not know the difference between a kidnapper and his victim.

He lamented the prevalence of snake bites among poor Nigerians who were already hungry.

“If a snake bites a hungry person, his case is only pathetic as he is already economically traumatised without much hope.”

He particularly condemned the inhuman behaviour of exposing abductees to snake bites and regretted the “zero” premium placed on human life. (NAN)

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