The kidnapping crisis in Niger State seems not to be abating with the state’s commissioner for information Mohammed Sani Idris becoming the latest victim after he was abducted in his home town of Baban Tunga in Tafa local government area of the state.
Sani has now joined over 238 other persons languishing in kidnappers’ den in the state.
LEADERSHIP’s findings revealed that the commissioner was picked up by heavily armed men numbering 10 who operated for fewer than five minutes at about 1am yesterday.
It was learnt that when they arrived, they asked about the wife of the commissioner and they were told she had left for Minna, then they ordered the commissioner to follow them out on foot.
Eyewitness account revealed that the gunmen did not come with any vehicle as they took the footpath along the adjoining bush through a popular ceramic company.
The Niger State government has confirmed the kidnap of the commissioner through a statement by the chief press secretary to the state governor, Mrs Mary Noel Berje.
According to the statement, “security agencies are, however, already trailing the bandits with a view to apprehending them.”
Meanwhile, a family source told LEADERSHIP that the gunmen have not contacted any member of the family for ransom, nor is it clear whether it was politically motivated as of the time of filing this report.
The abduction of the commissioner brings to 238 the number of people kidnapped and still held in the captivity of their abductors in the last two months in the state.
They include the 136 pupils abducted from Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School, Tegina, 59 farmers abducted in various locations in Shiroro, 20 people kidnapped at Magama/ Rijau axis, 10 in Munya and four others taken last week from Kwankwachie, a town sandwiched between Suleja and Madala.
There are also eight people kidnapped on the Madaka axis linking Kamuku forest in Rafi local government area of the state and Birni Gwari in Kaduna state. Also a victim in captivity is the APC Niger North chairman, Malam Aminu Bobi, who was abducted on Saturday in his farm at Mariga local government area of the state.
Bandits Abduct 9 In Kwara, Demand N30m Ransom
In Kwara State, nine persons, including a pastor and his wife, were on Sunday kidnapped in two separate incidents in Kwara South axis.
The two incidents happened along the Oke-Onigbin/Omu-Aran highway and Ekiti/ Ekanmeje axis.
LEADERSHIP learnt that six armed men waylaid a Sienna bus coming from Ekiti State to Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State, and abducted all the seven persons in the vehicle.
The spokesman of Kwara State Police Command, Okasanmi Ajayi, confirmed the two kidnapping incidents.
Ajayi said the prompt intervention of a combined team of policemen, local hunters and vigilantes led to the rescue of four abducted persons.
“The abductors were instantly chased into the bushes, four out of the seven abducted persons were rescued. Efforts are still in top gear to get the remaining three rescued.
“Deploying similar tactics by operatives, those abducted in Ekanmeje/Ekiti axis using the same modus were equally rescued. It remains a pastor and his wife, who the command is frantically doing everything possible to rescue unhurt,” the police spokesman stated.
Ajayi disclosed that some suspects had been arrested and were helping the police in their investigation.
“The situation is under control. The good people of Kwara State are advised to go about their lawful businesses without any fear of molestation and attack. Patrols of all the routes in the state have been intensified,” he added.
Meanwhile, the kidnappers are demanding a ransom of N30 million to release Engineer Ayo Alabi, one of the nine guests who were abducted at Eleyin village between Oke-Onigbin and Omu-Aran in Irepodun local government area of Kwara state last Saturday.
It was gathered that the kidnappers got in touch with a friend of the victim, Mr Williams Owolabi, on Sunday night and demanded N30 million payment to secure his release.
Alabi was said to be returning from a funeral held at Osi in Ekiti local government area of Kwara State on Saturday evening when six armed men emerged from the bush and ordered the seven people in the Sienna bus they were travelling to come down. They then led the travellers into the bush.
Also, a car being driven by a pastor and his wife was intercepted by gunmen at Ekan meje/Ekiti axis in Kwara South.
However, policemen engaged the bandits in a gun battle and were able to rescue four out of the seven victims in the Sienna bus,while the kidnappers escaped with the remaining three passengers.
The spokesman of the state police command, Okasanmi Ajay,i who confirmed the two kidnap cases said some arrests have been made and police patrols have been intensified across the statel
Nigeria’s Wildlife Park Rangers Face Terrorists, Kidnappers, Other Challenges – Minister
In another development, the minister of environment, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, has said wildlife park rangers in the country now grapple with terrorists, kidnappers, cattle rustlers and bandits in their line of duty.
Abubakar spoke in Abuja yesterday during the candlelight memorial in honour of fallen heroes of the National Park Service (NPS) to mark World Rangers Day (WRD).
He said it was sad that in recent times, the challenges faced by park rangers working tirelessly to protect the country’s wildlife had taken a dangerous dimension.
Abubakar said that adequate measures were being taken by the Ministry to overcome the present predicament faced by the NPS, especially the challenges affecting rangers.
The minister noted that the government was fully aware of the numerous challenges.
“These challenges range from contending with poachers, loggers, miners, grazers, to trekking long distances, inadequate patrol vehicles, use of obsolete firearms, inadequate modern equipment and inadequate manpower.
“I am pleased to inform you that the government is abreast of these arduous challenges that are debilitating the National Park Service,” he added.
Abubakar praised the NPS for working tirelessly in its responsibility of protecting, preserving and conserving the nation’s natural resources.
“I want to express my sincere sympathy to the National Park Service and the families of the departed heroes. The memories of the fallen heroes will continue to live in us,’’ he said.
Dr Ibrahim Goni, the Conservator-General of NPS, said the occasion was held to honour unforgettable fallen heroes who, despite all odds, strived very hard to make the environment a better place to live in.
Goni described park rangers as unsung heroes of wildlife conservation whose critical contributions to a healthy environment and general wellbeing were hardly noticed by all and sundry.
He lamented the fact that rangers were always under-appreciated because they worked in remote places and were not often in the media spotlight.
Goni said there was a need to associate with them and encourage them to keep up the good work as they protected the critical ecosystem.
“They weather the storm to ensure that you and I are safe from all forms of environmental-related hazards by preventing biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation, biological monitoring, habitat management, human-wildlife conflict mitigation, tourism and many others.
“Records made available by the International Rangers Federation indicate that about 120 rangers had lost their lives in the line of duty from August 2020 to 30th July, 2021 across the globe and Nigeria accounts for 17 deaths out of this figure,’’ he said.
According to Goni, the candlelight memorial in honour of the fallen heroes of National Park Service was an innovation to add glamour to WRD celebration.
Danjuma Magaji, Deputy Conservator of Parks, a ranger, commended the government for collaborating with some non-governmental organizations in training some rangers and providing some equipment.
World Rangers Day is celebrated around the world on July 31 each year to remember the many rangers who have been injured or killed in the line of duty while protecting national and state parks.