A victim of kidnap from Bassa in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, Mr Rufai Galadima, yesterday, related the agonising 29 days he spent with his abductors.
Galadima, a final year HND student of Regional Planning at the Niger State Polytechnic, Zungeru, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Shiroro, Niger state, that the experience was harrowing.
“I was kidnapped from my village, Bassa, in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State while resting in my family house between 8pm and 9 pm by two heavily-armed men on October 17.
“I was kidnapped alongside my younger brother’s wife, but when I pleaded with them that the woman was pregnant and sick, they let her go.
He added that when he was abducted, the suspects demanded money and telephone handsets.
“I told them that I am a student and had nothing; when they asked to see other members of the family, I told them that they went out.
“They said since we did not have money, they would take me to their camp in the forest.
“When we got to their forest camp in Gwanda, in the Chukuba area of Shiroro, they tied me to a tree and beat me to force my family to bring money,’’ he said.
The victim said that before they got to the forest camp, the suspects stole two fowls from a family compound which he used to prepare their meal at the camp.
“Many of the bandits in the camp ate the food and left me to stay hungry throughout the first night,’’ he said.
He added that in the camp, there were more than 20 young girls that the suspects used as sex slaves.
“They did not allow the girls to go anywhere; the ladies only cooked for them and had intimacy with them. I also noticed that the ladies were not allowed to have their baths, even when they were menstruating,’’ he said.
Galadima said that the kidnapped victims in the forest camp were fed twice per day with yam stolen by the suspects from farms near the forest.
He said that at the camp, the suspects possessed AK-47 and AK-49 rifles, pump action guns, rocket-propelled guns, machetes and machine guns, among other weapons.
“They even boasted of shooting down a helicopter sometime in Shiroro.
“They told me that they got their weapons from Cameroon, Niger Republic, Sokoto and Zamfara states,’’ he said.
Galadima said that the suspects used camels in transporting their weapons to Shiroro from where they operated.
He also said that the bandits recruited youths in the forest to join the nefarious activities on a daily basis.
He said that when the kidnappers made contact with his family, they initially demanded N5 million ransom and the family pleaded with them to accept N200,000 or N300,000, but they refused.
“When my family later sold our properties and raised N1.3 million, the negotiation continued, before they accepted it and freed me at 9am on November 14,’’ he said.
He added that his family did not report the incident to the police because the only police post in the area had been abandoned because of incessant attacks by bandits on police personnel.
Alhaji Ahmed Matane, Secretary to the Niger State Government had, on November 16, said that the major unsecured local government areas in the state were Rafi, Munya, Shiroro Mariga, Mashegu and Lapai.
Matane said the government was already working with the police, the army, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Air Force and local vigilantes to secure the state.
He said that the state government would collaborate with the Federal Government to deploy drones in the state, to complement the efforts of the security forces on ground.
Efforts to get the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Wasiu Abiodun, to speak on the issue were not successful.
Abiodun did not answer phone calls put across to him and did not respond to text messages.