Metro & Crime

Niger passengers’ abduction: How bandits beat, starved us for days, victims recount

●Gov: Kagara students, teachers still with abductors

 

Freed passengers of the Niger State Transport Authority (NSTA) yesterday recounted their ordeal in the hands of their abductors.

 

The 53 passengers, who were abducted on February 14 at Kundu village in Rijau Local Government Area while returning to Minna, the state capital, said their captors humiliated them while in captivity. Their release elicited jubilation across the state yesterday. Out of the 53 released abductees, 20 are women, nine are children while 24 are men.

The victims, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the bandits made them trek inside the bush amid starvation and beating.

 

One of the victims, Mohammed Ndagi, a civil servant with the state Science and Technical Board, said their vehicle was intercepted by the bandits about 2:30p.m. and before their vehicle stopped, the bandits shot at the bus.

 

Ndagi said the bandits also asked them to come down from the bus and led them into the bush where they trekked day and night.

 

He added: “The bandits only carried women and children on their motorcycles to a particular destination. “When we trekked to where the women were kept, it was already night, they cooked pasta and poured it on our hands to eat.

 

“We were cooking for ourselves and they kept beating us on a daily basis and as we moved, we kept seeing more of the bandits.” Ndagi disclosed that a particular bandit kept beating them with sticks and threatened them to give them money or risk being killed. Another victim, Hamza Mohammed, also said that they went through a terrible experience in the hands of the bandits.

 

Mohammed said they were only given one bottle of dirty water used in feeding cattle for 10 people to take. He said: “The first day, we rested on a mountain and anyone who attempted to sleep was flogged.”

 

Mohammed added that the day they were to be released, the bandits asked them to forgive them for whatever treatment they had melted out on them and pray for them to change their ways.

 

Similarly, Hajiya Jummai Isah, one of the victims, said she was traumatised as a result of her experience in the hands of their captors. She said they neither bathed for a week nor brushed their teeth, while they relied on little food. Isah, however, said that the bandits used their motorcycles to convey women and children and didn’t allow them to treK.

 

She said: “We had little or no food to eat. They usually give us little food to cook and eat. “They beat the men and spare  the women and children. They only started beating women three days before we were released. “They started beating us and shooting in the air because they said our people refused to give them money.”

 

Isah appreciated the state and federal governments for their efforts in ensuring their safe release and reunion with their families. Meanwhile, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, who addressed the victims before handing them over to their families, appealed to them to be calm and go about their normal businesses.

 

Bello, who was represented by his chief of staff, advised them to see their abduction as one of the wishes of life and commended the people of the state for their prayers and support that resulted  their release.

 

The governor said he had approved some stipends for the victims to assist them to transport them back to their families. However, the Niger State government yesterday dismissed the rumours that the 42 people abducted by bandits from the Government Science College, Kagara have regained their freedom.

 

The governor, however, said “efforts are being made to secure their release”. On his Twitter account, Bello said: “Government is intensifying efforts to also secure the release of the Kagara Government Science College students, staff and their family members.

 

“While we are happy that the kidnapped NSTA passengers have regained their freedom, the students of Kagara Science College are still in the hands of the captives and the government is doing everything possible to ensure their release.”

 

The abductees include 27 students, three staff and 12 members of their family.

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