As more than 20 travelers along Abuja-Kaduna Expressway were snatched away and dumped to languish in dare-devil kidnappers’ den last week, the Kaduna State Police Command’s firm and only stand that the incident never happened, left watchers with disgust and has drawn flacks from the victims and members of the society. ISAIAH BENJAMIN writes.
On Wednesday the June 7, 2017 the news of the kidnap of over 20 persons at Akilibu Village along Abuja-Kaduna Expressway at about 1pm spread like wide fire in social media and some print media. But while family members were grieving and praying God for the release of their loved ones, the police, saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and properties came up with a statement dispelling the report and described it as a fabricated falsehood meant to deceive the general public; and advised people to go about their normal business and disregard the news.
In the statement the police said “The attention of the Kaduna State Command was drawn to a story been circulated on the internet and some print media about the purported kidnapping of 20 persons at Akilibu Village along Abuja-Kaduna Expressway. The Command wishes to state that, there was no report of such incident and the story is entirely a fabricated falsehood intended to create fear in the minds of citizens. It is pertinent to note that; the Command has not relented in acting on reports on the suspected activities of criminals in the state.
The statement which is credited to the deputy commissioner of police DCP, Ahmad Abdulrahaman on behalf of the commissioner of police, said, the command has recorded successful breakthroughs in the arrest and prosecution of various kidnap syndicates and other criminal gangs. Achievements he said were made through intelligence driven policing which is supported by reports on activities of suspected criminals by the members of the public. The statement, however, acknowledged that ”the command has recorded an incident where five persons driving along Kaduna-Abuja Expressway in a Toyota Camry were attacked, three people were robbed and the two others kidnapped to unknown destination,” noting that when the report reached the command, technical and human resources where deployed to ensure the rescue of the two kidnap victims and the arrest of the culprits. It therefore said it noted with nolstagia that, ”In view of the foregoing, there is no way 20 people could be travelling inside one car or be kidnapped without trace or a report to the police by the relatives of the victims or witnesses to the crime. Consequently, the press should continue to uphold high ethical standard of their profession. All accounts of criminal incidents or stories should be verified before publication to avoid being involved in sharing mischief. Internet subscribers should also be cautious in sharing stories of questionable sources especially via the social media.” Police in the state concluded by reaffirming an “unrelenting commitment towards reducing crime and criminality to the barest minimum in the state and country at large.” Ordinarily with such categorical statement coming from those in charge of protection of lives and property of its citizens, one certainly would have believed that there was indeed no case of kidnap as reported until some of the kidnapped victims who got their freedom after payment of a ransom were paraded at a press conference and narrated their ordeals in the hands of their abductors. Corroborating their testimonies was a man who addressed the conference Comrade Danjuma Sarki who said, he informed the police of the news of the kidnap of the victims. Sarki claimed to have paid ransom for the release of the three victims and went further to play a recorded voice of the various conversations between him and the kidnappers. At the said press briefing, three of the over 20 victims that were kidnapped along Abuja- Kaduna Expressway expressed disappointment with the Nigerian Police for dispelling the report of their abduction. The released victims Kazah Bulu, SimonTerna and Ruth Samuel who was earlier kidnapped on the June 5, 2017 and had spent five days in the kidnappers den before she was release alongside the two other men after payment of ransom said their ordeal in the hands of their kidnappers can better be imagined than described.
According to their testimony at a press conference at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Kaduna Council Secretariat which was addressed on their behalf by Sarki, who effected their release after an undisclosed amount paid as ransom, the victims who were looking very tired having trekked several kilometres inside the bush, said they saw physical death but God saved them to tell the story.
Most female victims according to Samuel were also sexually exploited by the kidnappers, adding that one woman got released after severally being raped and still had to pay the sum of N200,000. “When we were kidnapped on that fateful day, two of the passengers who attempted to resist them were killed instantly before leading the rest of us into the bush,” Samuel disclosed. For Simon Terna and Kazah Bulus, the kidnappers upon receipt of the ransom for their release, gave them N1000 and a rap of Indian hemp each. “The kidnappers are young, fearless and well organised bandits of Fulani extraction within the ages of 22-35 who said they specialise in kidnapping, cattle rustling, armed robbery and hired killing. They are armed to the teeth with machine guns, AK 47, AK 49, revolvers among several others they brandished recklessly.
“According to them, they hail from Sokoto,Gombe, Zamfara states, while some of them are from neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic who declared that their main objectives is financial benefits and pleasure from women. They use complete military uniforms and possess different military identity cards for impersonation and for disguise in their operations. They boastfully claimed that they work in collaboration with some government and security agents, who they claim supply them the guns and equally furnish them with information on possible targets.
“The criminals are very brutal, they rape and kill at will, they operate different camps within the jungle where they keep their victims”.
On his part, Comrade Sarki who was the one who broke the news of their kidnap, described the police denial of the incident as unfortunate.
According to him, upon receipt of the news, himself and some concerned friends reported the matter to the Kaduna Police Command where they were assured that the matter would be investigated and the release of the captives.
“To our greatest shock, instead of doing the needful, the Kaduna State Police Command decided to debunk it through a press statement signed by the deputy commissioner of police, DCP Ahmad Abdulrahaman, describing it as false, claiming that there was no truth in the story that it was misleading and called on the pubic to disregard it.
“We wish to categorically and unequivocally reaffirm that the incident is true with physical proof. Despite several payments of ransom and release of some of the victims as at yesterday night, (Friday, June 9), there are still more than 30 people in their captivity.
“With us here are three of the victims that were released at Rijana along Kaduna-Abuja highway, their dirty belongings and recorded phone conversations between myself (Sarki) and the kidnappers,” he stated. Sarki went ahead and played the recorded conversation thereafter between him and the kidnappers.
“The commissioner of police in Kaduna State has steadily exposed his incompetence and unprofessionalism in the discharge of his responsibilities. We strongly believe that he lacks the capacity to superintend over Kaduna police command.
“We want to use this opportunity to categorically call on the inspector general of police to redeploy the commissioner of police, Kaduna State Mr Agyole Abeh and his deputy Mr Ahmad Abdulrahaman and replace them with more competent and effective officers, so as to nip the current security challenges bedeviling the state in the bud,” Comrade Sarki said.
Speaking further he said, “the fact is obvious that cases of kidnap in Kaduna State and its environs are real. The need for security agencies to step up their activities to nip the activities of the kidnappers in the state and country at large in the bud and further give confidence to its citizens cannot be over-emphasised. And the need for people to be more cautions of their movement is of paramount importance while seeking God’s intervention to help save us from the hands of these evil men and their activities now and always.”