Gunmen who abducted 29 people returning to Zamfara State from Sokoto State where they had gone to attend the wedding of colleagues have released them after the payment of an unspecified ransom, according to Premium Times.
The victims, who were mostly dealers of mobile phones and phone accessories at Bebeji Communication Market (Bebeji Plaza) in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State were abducted in Sokoto 13 days ago.
Secretary of the GSM Dealers Association in the state, Ashiru Zurmi, confirmed the release of the victims but didn’t give details. One of the victims reportedly died in captivity.
Though the amount paid as ransom to secure the release of the hostages has not been revealed, Abdullahi Lawal, whose brother was among those abducted, said their relatives were asked to make donations. He said his family raised N33,000 while the phone sellers’ association “provided the remaining money.”
“Every family was told to gather N400,000 while the members of the plaza and their colleagues in the state provided the remaining money. Some family members were able to raise the money in full, but we couldn’t. I took the money to the plaza and I was told that they were still negotiating with the bandits” he said.
He said he didn’t know how much was given to the bandits “but I’m happy that my brother is okay,” he said.
A phone accessories seller, Sharhabilu Muhammad, told PREMIUM TIMES over the phone that the officials of the phone dealers association negotiated with the bandits to reduce the ransom they originally demanded to release the captives.
“You know that the initial money they said was N5m for each of the captives but our officials kept negotiating with them (bandits) until they reduced the money to N700k,” he said.
When asked about the person who reportedly died in captivity, Mr Muhammed said his identity has not been revealed.
“We don’t know because even the bandits didn’t tell but we’ll surely find out when they (captives) arrive at Gusau tonight,” he added.
The police command spokesman, Mohammed Shehu, didn’t respond to calls and SMS sent to him on the development. The wedding guests were abducted when bandits opened fire on the two buses they were travelling in a few kilometres after Bimasa in the Dogon Awo junction, Sokoto State. (PREMIUM TIMES)