•Niger secures release of 10 abducted travellers
Barely 48 hours after an attack on the Raffi-Kotangora Road, bandits on Tuesday embarked on a daring broad daylight raid on some communities in Niger State and killed 10 persons and abducted 24 others.
This was just as the state government confirmed the killing of the village head of Kusherki in the Rafi Local Government Area of the state, Alhaji Masud Abubakar, by the bandits, who also abducted his wife.
Five of those killed were said to be members of the local vigilante group, while the others were young boys said to be supporting the vigilantes.
The raid, according to eyewitnesses, began around 12.30pm and lasted till around 2pm.
According to reports, the bandits numbering over 50 rode on motorcycles and operated with sophisticated weapons, including AK-47 rifles.
Eyewitnesses said the bandits began their operation from Kasuwe village and moved to other villages killing and maiming innocent villagers.
The bandits also dispossessed the villagers of food items and other valuables.
It was gathered that during the attack, a helicopter hovered in the air to allegedly give the bandits protection.
Another set of bandits, according to sources, blocked the major highway leading to Minna from Sarkin Pawa, leaving motorists to run helter-skelter.
The Secretary to the Local Government Council, Mr James Jagaba, confirmed the attack but said, “I cannot give you details. My vigilante corps members are still battling with the bandits I have yet to get a report from them.”
A state government statement, which confirmed the Kusherki incident, did not say when it happened, but lamented that the increasing activities of kidnappers and bandits in the state were becoming a nightmare to the people.
The statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mary Noel-Berje, described the situation “as callous and regrettable,” adding that “the murder of the traditional title holder is a challenge to the security agencies to intensify their search to fish out and ensure that the perpetrators of such heinous acts are brought to justice.”
“The situation, particularly in the last 72 hours, has become regrettably alarming! While efforts are ongoing to secure the release of the abducted NSTA passengers, we heard that of Kusherki and other areas. We are witnessing these attacks now almost on a daily basis and it is worrisome,” the statement quoted Governor Abubakar Bello as saying.
Meanwhile, the Niger State Government has claimed that it has rescued 10 out of the 21 travellers abducted last week in Kundu via Yakila, Rafi Local Government Area of the state.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mohammad Idris, made this known in an interview on Tuesday at the General Hospital where three of the rescued victims were examined.
“Immediately after the incident, the state government gave an assurance to rescue them and they were rescued through multiply strategies. I assure you that Governor Abubakar Bello’s administration will not rest until the other victims are rescued,” he stated.
Idris denied allegation of payment of N50m as ransom by the state government to secure the release of the victims, saying the strategies employed in rescuing the victims could not be revealed, adding that if ransom was paid, all of the abducted passengers would have been released by the abductors.
The commissioner sympathised with the families of the victims, adding that the governor had come up with strategies in collaboration with neighbouring states to fight bandits and other criminals in the state considering the position of Niger State in the North-Central region.
The Managing Director of the hospital, Ma-ali Isah, said three of the victims, consisting of two adults and a child, were brought for examination and confirmed that they were stable.
“Three of the recently abducted victims were brought in this afternoon, two adults and a child; they have been examined and they are in a stable condition,” he said.