Five days after the abduction of nine students of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the institution’s management and the Kaduna State Government have yet to comment on the incident.
The kidnappers, who abducted the French Department students whilst on their way to Lagos for an academic programme, demanded N270 million as ransom, Daily Trust reports.
According to the report, Dickson Oko, one of the students who managed to escape when the incident happened along Abuja – Kaduna Expressway, said the kidnappers demanded N30 million for each of them.
Mr Oko had managed to escape alongside the driver of the bus, into the bush but, sustained gunshot injuries.
The driver, Nurudeen Mohammed, who narrated his ordeal to the newspaper, said he was conveying the students to the French Village in Lagos for their language immersion program.
He said they were trapped at the Akilubu-Gidan Busa axis of the highway when the bandits blocked the two lanes and opened fire on them.
While the ABU management confirmed that eight of the students have been kidnapped, the driver insisted that they were nine because he was conveying 12 students and 3 managed to escape, together with him.
Several telephone calls and text messages to Ashiru Zango, the institution’s Chief Security Officer, were not responded to.
The Kaduna State Commissioner for internal Security, Samuel Aruwan, and the governor’s spokesperson, Muyiwa Adekeye, also did not respond to calls and text messages.
However, the Kaduna State Police Public Relations Officer, Mohammed Jalige, said the command was on top of the situation.
“We are on top of it and we have made more deployment to the axis, in a bid to make possible arrests,” he said.
He assured that the police will get to the root of the matter.
The Abuja – Kaduna highway has been a soft spot for kidnappers, who have terrorised travellers for over about three years.
Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Niger States have seen more frequent attacks from bandits in recent years, despite heightened security measures in the area. Bandits are regularly suspected in the attacks, but occasional skirmishes between warring villages had been reported.
PREMIUM TIMES recently reported how police officers on a special assignment were kidnapped in Katsina State and are currently being held for ransom.
The officers were on their way to Zamfara State from Borno, to carry out a special assignment before they were abducted.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2019, ordered a ban on mining activities in Zamfara, after Nigerians held a protest in Abuja to condemn his seeming helplessness amidst a gloomy security situation that had prevailed for several years.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had stated that the government gave the directive because it observed a relationship between banditry and illegal mining in the state.
In November 2017, the president reacted to a similar outrage about the killings by ordering the creation of a new battalion for Zamfara.
In order to further secure the area, a brigade was also moved from Sokoto State to Zamfara, while Sokoto received a new division.
But little appears to have changed years on, even though the military reports assaults on bandits’ hideouts from time to time.