The Rigasa community, located in Igabi Local Government Area and the central senatorial zone of Kaduna State, made news two years ago when it was revealed that a certain public school there had a population of over 28,000 pupils, with more than 300 in a classroom.
Unfortunately, for the past five months, the people have been under attack. Gunmen invaded their community at will, almost on a daily basis, to abduct people unchallenged. Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that sounds of gunshots at night had become a daily routine in the community.
The black spots are known as Ado Gwaram, Nariya, Kwate, Tudun Barde, Tudun Ladi Wudil, Mai Giginya and communities around the Rigasa railway station.
The worsening insecurity in those communities compelled residents to embark on a street protest in September. Last Monday, they took their grievances to the State House of Assembly, asking lawmakers to intervene and end kidnapping and armed robbery in their communities.
The peaceful protest was led by Shehu Sani Surajo, a lawyer.
When our correspondents visited the community, some of the people whose family members were still in custody were reluctant to speak or give names and pictures of their loved ones so as not to undermine their safetyý.
Our correspondents were, however, informed of one Mohammed Abdullahi, 23, who has been in the custody of his abductors since October 2019. He was said to have been kidnapped on his way to farm on the outskirts oýf the community. His abductors demanded N15million, but after days of negotiation, they agreed to collect N350,000 as ransom.
Daily Trust on Sunday was told that one of his relatives, Usman, was given the ransom to take to the kidnappers inside the forest, but after collecting the ransom, they held him hostage and demanded N10m for both of them. The family now agreed to raise N1m. The kidnappers also requested for a new Techno phone, which the family bought at N6,000 and sent to them.
Also, Sanusi Abdullahi’s younger brother, Mohammed, was kidnapped. He was said to have negotiated with the kidnappers and the family paid N1m, which they submitted with a phone, but they still held on to the boy.
“We can’t reach out to the kidnappers because their phone is always off until they call us, and it has been 10 days now since they collected the money,’’ he said.
Sanusi also said there was another man in the same community whose two children were with the kidnappers even though they demanded N2m.
Malam Salisu Ashiru, uncle to 23-year-old Musa, of Tudun Barde community, told our correspondents that Musa was kidnapped and murdered after his father paid N50,000.
“They called his father, demanding N750,000 ransom, but when they realised that we are poor, they accepted to collect N50,000, which was raised by the father. The money was dropped at a cemetery as requested, but days later, we discovered his decomposed body at an uncompleted building,’’ he said.
The incident sent jitters to the minds of residents.
Yusuf Isa, a resident of Layin Aslow, just got his eight-month pregnant wife released from kidnappers three weeks ago.
“She was kidnapped at home in the second week of October. They took her away and demanded N5m ransom, which I didn’t know where to get. People in the community contributed some money and took to the people before she was released few days ago.
“Her parents came and took her out of the community because she was already traumatised due to her condition and she needs better care. Honestly, I am still confused about what happened. If this government is truly working for the masses as they always claim, they need to end this criminality, not only in this community but the country in general,’’ he said.
Yusuf Ishaq Rigasa, a resident of Lakwaja Road, narrated how he was held hostage on September 19, 2019 when he took the ransom agreed to pay for his friend who was kidnapped.
“A friend of mine was abducted and they demanded millions of naira as ransom. His family later agreed to pay N350,000 and they agreed. I volunteered to take the ransom to Guguwar forest, after Gurguzo.
“I left around 5pm and we kept communicating on the way. The kidnappers kept asking if I was alone and I said yes. Later, they called to say that someone brought me on a motorcycle and I said he was a commercial motorcyclist.
“The kidnapper I was communicating with kept dribbling me for hours, just to be sure I was actually alone. At a point, he said I should go to Tsauni Uku mountain. It was later that I sighted a man in military uniform waving at me from a distance, so I went to him. He asked if the money was complete as agreed and I said yes. Then, his friends, about 30 of them, came out of the bush, holding guns and said I should go with them, and I followed.
“That was all I could remember, only to wake up blindfolded. They seriously beat me up that day because they claimed the money I brought was too small. They requested for additional N650,000 to make it N1m. That was what they collected before they released us. We really suffered in their hands,’’ he said.
Mohammad Sa’id, a resident of Tankin Kura in the same community, was lucky to escape from his abductors. “I was inside the room with my wife when six men broke the door and came in. They told me that I should wake up because I had guests. It was around 2am.
“They wanted to take away my wife but I refused, so they said I should go with them, but not until they took N36,000 they found in the room. We rode on their bike for three hours inside forest before we got to their den. It was inside a thick forest. I kept praying on the way.
“Later, they called my father and demanded N20m, but he told them he had never seen such a huge amount of money. My dad is Fulani, so he communicated with them in the language and said he could only raise N100,000 and they insulted him. They told him they didn’t care whether he was Fulani or not, all they wanted was money,’’ he narrated.
Mohammed recounted that two days later, four of the kidnappers left, and the one guarding him fell asleep. “When I realised he was deep asleep, I ran; in fact, I ran for about three hours nonstop inside the forest before I met some tree cutters who told me that I was in Buruku. From there they assisted me to find my way home,’’ he said.
He called on government to end the spate of kidnapping in Rigasa and other communities in the state, saying that a lot of people are still under custody because their family members could not afford the ransoms placed on them.
Hajiya Fatima, a resident of Ladi Wudil, said kidnappers went to her house in late August, but she was not at home, so they took away her three daughters and demanded millions of naira as ransom.
She added that before they left her house, they took away N450,000 inside her room. According to her, after 10 days of negotiation, the kidnappers agreed to collect N450,000, plus N30,000 recharge cards for the three girls.
“My husband took the money and recharge cards to them in the bush, but when he got there, they held him hostage too. We had to add another N700,000, plus N30,000 recharge cards before they were released. I spent close to N1.5m as ransom to get my family back.
“They beat up my daughters for refusing to disclose my whereabouts that night; my husband was tortured too. As we speak, we are not comfortable to sleep in our homes because we are scared. We need serious help from security agencies and government,’’ she said.
Also, a 58-year-old Dahiru Abubakar was abducted at his farm on September 2019 and he regained his freedom on September 31. “They met me in the farm about 2pm and took me away. They beat me up when they realised I was not rich. They collected N300,000 ransom from my family.
“My motorcycle and that of the man who took the money to them were also seized. We have not paid the okada man for his motorcycle because I am still owing some people that lent us the money for the ransom.
“As we speak, I am afraid to visit my farm, and many of my neighbours have also abandoned theirs despite the fact that it is time for harvest,’’ he said.
When contacted, the police public relations officer, Kaduna State command, DSP Yakubu Sabo, said security measures had been put in place to check such crimes in the community. He said the police successfully raided black spots within Rigasa and rescued eight victims unhurt and reunited them with their family members.
“Prior to the protest, the command and the state governor went to the community and held a stakeholders appraisal meeting. It was to hear some of the security challenges from the people and where they think we can improve,’’ he said.
He said the police had deployed more personnel to the affected areas, adding that the state government equally got in touch with the military, which led to the deployment of military personnel along Nariya.
He said a joint task force of the police and military were operating in the affected communities to forestall any attack.