Kidnapping is becoming a worrisome case in Katsina State as bandits continue to hold residents and commuters for ransom. Daily Trust Saturday takes a look at the rise in the disturbing trend in the new year.
Almost two months into 2019, there are not less than seven recorded kidnap incidents, with a total of 44 people abducted in Katsina State. The crime is rampant, especially in the eight local governments of Jibia, Dandume, Faskari, Sabuwa, Danmusa, Safana, Kankara and Batsari, councils bordering the dreaded Rugu forest, which serves as hideout for bandits.
However, of recent, kidnappings have extended to Dutsinma, Kurfi, Funtua and even Katsina metropolis. In the past year, the crime has risen to an unprecedented level and presently shows no sign of abating.
Early February, primary school pupils, Amina, 11 and Abdullahi, 9, children of LawalKasko were abducted alongside Hajiya Maryama Yusuf, a school teacher and Abdullahi Batse-Batse. While the latter regained their freedom last week after payments of an undisclosed ransom, the children remained in captivity until yesterday, making their stay in captivity a total of 23 days.
Confirming his children’s release, Kasko said all glory goes to God who made it possible. “The kids returned home safe, but a little weak from exhaustion and trauma,” he said. “I took them to the hospital where they were assessed to be in good health aside their weakness.
Sources close to the family told Daily Trust Saturday that the kidnappers dragged their victims for over 24km on foot, then handed them over to another batch on motorcycle, who then took them to the forest.
Another abduction and release incident is that of a former Director of Military Intelligence (DMI) retired Major General U.T. Umar, who was released three days after his kidnap.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the retired military officer, who is now a consultant in Abuja, was kidnapped on his way to Abuja from Katsina State where he attended the Grand Finale rally of President Muhammadu Buhari. He had lost his seat for the return flight and chose to travel by road the next day by hiring a car early morning.
The source also confirmed that the retired officer had been released by the kidnappers, but could not say whether ransom was paid before he was freed.
It has been established that the recent rise of kidnapping is a fallout of the insecurity in neighbouring Zamfara State that also borders the forest.Hardly a day goes by without a reported case of kidnapping in the over eight local governments.
In the past two months, bandits have had a field day, residents of Sabuwa and Dandume Local Government Area (LGA) told Daily Trust Saturday. One of them, Bello Musa, said “they kidnapped, and in some cases, killed innocent individuals at Kyaware, Bulange, and Dungun Kadarko. Many of the well-to-do villagers have since relocated to Dandume for their safety and that of their families.”
Musa added that there were instances when those who went to the bush to pay ransom for their abducted relatives ended up being kidnapped too, a situation that became a source of serious concern in the area.
This development, according to Shehu Yahuza Unguwar Bako, necessitated the organisation of a formidable vigil to checkmate the ugly situation.
One Alhaji Muntari Maibakko told Daily Trust Saturday that on Sunday, February 10, the bandits abducted three women at Gidan Hazo, but got intercepted by the vigilantes and some of the bandits got killed.
“The vigilantes pursued them after people in the village raised alarm, and in the process, they let go of two women, but escaped with a young girl. Some of the bandits hid themselves in the house of one Alhaji Bello, a long-suspected informant. Eleven of the bandits were killed.” Said Alhaji Maibakko. Two notorious bandits, Gagare and Nagando, and their informant Alhaji Bello, were killed. “The rest of the eight were strangers who came on the invitation of Gagare and Nagando.”
In a similar development, one Tukur of Unguwar Bako was last week arrested for murder and dispossession of an Okada at Gamji bush of Sabuwa LGA. The victim, according to AlhajiMuntari, was from Unguwar Doro of Dandume LGA.
Early in the month of February, gunmen abducted Hajiya Amina Danmusa, a daughter to the chief whip of Katsina State House of Assembly, Bello Abdu Danmusa. They also kidnapped two children of a medical doctor in Jibia town.
Hajiya Danmusa was kidnapped at her residence in Danmusa town. Daily Trust Saturday gathered that her husband, who was away from home, was the target of the abductors.
The abductors were said to have stormed the doctor’s residence at 1am and abducted his wife and the two children, but that the wife fell off the motorcycle of the kidnappers. They were said to have demanded N100 million to release the children. The state police command had not responded to enquiries made on both incidents.
Also, in Jibia LGA, a medical doctor, Dr. MJ Yusuf’s two children were kidnapped.
But as these kidnappings rage on, the police have equally arrested some of the criminals. Recently, a notorious cattle rustler, armed robber and kidnapper was nabbed in the state.The suspect, Ibrahim Muwange, aged 35, of Duffar Mato Malamai village, Danmusa LGA of Katsina State, was captured at Dayi, Malumfashi LGA of the state.
The police command spokesman SP GamboIsah said the suspect has been on the wanted list of the Command in connection with various cases of cattle rustling, kidnapping, culpable homicide and armed robbery. He has terrorised communities and residents of Danmusa, Malumfashi, Safana and Batsari LGAs. An AK-47 rifle was recovered in his possession.
The state governor,AminuMasari, according to his spokesman Abdu Labaran Malumfashi, is to sign a new law prescribing life sentence for kidnappers, as well as prohibiting bail for anyone arrested for such an offence. He said the measure was necessary in order to bring to an end the menace, which has now assumed a frightening dimension all over the country.
Governor Masari challenged Fulani elders to reign in their youth, many of whom have taken to kidnapping and other violent criminal activities as their trade of choice, warning that failure to do so may lead the rest of the society to profiling of and self-help (jungle justice) against kidnappers.He said the criminal activities of some Fulani youth, especially in the Northwest has led to the unfortunate profiling of the Fulani ethnic group, even when no ethnic group in the country is innocent of criminal activities.
Masari further attributed the unprecedented involvement of the majority of Fulani youth in kidnapping to lack of both Islamic and Western form of education. Also, as a result of their nomadic way of life and the indifferent attitude of their elders in their upbringing. He said his administration has expended over five billion nairain the four years he has been in office to address security challenges in the state.
But cases of kidnappings continue, almost on a daily basis, assuming frighteningly novel new dimensions, like instances when kidnappers ‘sell’ victims to others, so they and their gang can pursue the ransom, usually higher than the sum demanded by the initial kidnapper. Also, there are roads in the state that are nigh impossible to ply at certain times of the day, even in broad daylight. Many residents live in abject fear, as even with government’s efforts, as well as the police’s, kidnapping continues, like a resident described, ‘to viral proportions’.