Display of affluence by one of the residents of the Low-Cost Housing Estate of Zaria is believed to be one of the major factors that attracted kidnappers to the area.
Many residents are of the view that a recent wedding ceremony, which took place in the area where United States dollars were freely spread gave the kidnappers and their informants the signal that a lot of money could be squeezed from the organisers if kidnapped.
A resident, who confided in Daily Trust, said that the extravagant display of wealth and ego by a customs officer residing in the area ended harming the entire community.
He added: “Even before the wedding, wife of this officer has been bragging that they will organize a wedding that would be the first of its kind in the area and Zaria in general. They kept to their arrogance, as there was outstanding show of affluence with freely spread of US dollars.
“Information available to us showed that, the main target of the kidnappers was this customs officer, his family and other fingered residents. Unfortunately, because they don’t know the area very well, they ended up missing their main target.”
Our source said from what the residents of Low-Cost later gathered, the kidnappers were in the area to at least kidnap 50 persons, but for the brave resistance of the residents, they only succeeded in taking away only two women.
Findings showed that this is the first-time kidnappers visited the area. However, of late there was a case of armed robbery in the area where the residents, in their usual resort to bravery, succeeded in apprehending one of the armed robbers.
Unfortunately, a resident said, the apprehended armed robber escaped from custody after being handed over to the police.
The escapee, according to residents, had a fractured leg. He escaped from hospital where he was taking for treatment by the police, they said.
Residents vow to weather the storm
This latest kidnap incident took place at the Buzai area of the Low-Cost. According to the chairman of the area’s vigilante group, Malam Abdullahi Tanimu, they were on routine patrol when they saw people running helter-skelter.
On inquiry, Malam Tanimu said, they were informed that kidnappers had visited the area and were moving from one house to the other.
He added: “One of my boys fired his dane gun into the air. This provoked the kidnappers and they starting shooting sporadically. As a result, they shot four children and succeeded in taking away two married women from their matrimonial homes.
“However, we have succeeded in apprehending two of them whom we later discovered that they were the informants that brought the kidnappers into the area.”
Information gathered by Daily Trust shows that the two informants were apprehended when they attempted to run away from the community after combined efforts of residents, vigilante and the police succeeded in preventing the kidnappers from having a field day.
A source said: “Usually, there is strategic deployment of volunteers that assist in securing the area. It was one of these groups that saw these two people wandering. After interrogation, it emerged that they were in our community for a criminal mission. Further, interrogation revealed that they were actually informants who brought the kidnappers to the area, but attempted to escape because they envisaged their mission may fail.
“They were handed over to the police. Feelers we are getting indicate that the police have gotten vital information from them, but will not want to release these information as it may compromise the progress they are making. Whatever the outcome, it is our resolve that, we will not fold our hands and allow criminals to ruin our lives.”
From the horse’s mouth
One of the victims, Haruna Sani, whose wife was kidnaped said he was not at home when the kidnappers stormed his house.
He added: “I received a call that kidnappers were in my house. As I approached the house, I was cautioned against going close to the house. Sound of gunshots pervaded the air for about one hour. What I could only do was to call the police, which I did. As the sound of the gunshots subsided, I went to my house and found that they have gone with my wife and the wife of my neighbour.”
One of the four teenagers shot by the kidnappers, Mustapha Isah, 17, said he encountered the kidnappers after his father sent him on an errand.
He added: “I don’t know what was happening. A bullet hit me on the hand, suddenly, and I then realized that there was danger. I took to my heels to save my dear life.”
Three Qur’anic pupils were also hit by the kidnappers’ bullets. When our correspondent interviewed them in hospital, one of them, Umar Sa’idu, said they were in class taking Qur’anic lesson when stray bullets hit them.
Others that were affected, according to Sa’idu, were Hassan Danbugu and Aliyu Abdullahi. The bullets hit them in the hand and stomach, respectively.
Emir calls for more resistance
In his reaction to the incident, Emir of Zazzau, Ambassador Ahmad Nuhu Bamalli, described act of kidnapping people for ransom as evil, saying that Nigerians must unite to brave what he called dangerous development that is traumatizing them.
Kidnapping and Zaria city
Of late, the ancient city of Zaria has recorded many kidnap cases. However, in recent history, kidnappers began unleashing terror on the residents of the city in 2011 when a Lebanese expatriate was kidnapped, while his colleague was murdered.
This was followed by the kidnapping of another Chinese engineer that was working with the firm that handled the Zaria water project. Zhang Lijun was kidnapped in 2012 and he worked with CGC Construction Company.
He was kidnapped at the Dakace village on the outskirt of Zaria, along Jos road, while on his way to the project site. Lijung was subsequently rescued by the police after residents suspected foul play and intercepted the vehicle carrying him.
After the 2011 and 2012 incidents, there was respite in the city. However, the ugly incidents of kidnapping resurfaced beginning from 2019 with the kidnap of a lecturer at the Kaduna state-owned Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic.
Since then, many people have been kidnapped in different parts of Zaria. These include a professor in Ahmadu Bello University, another lecturer in Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, a married women at the Madaci area of the city, a daughter of former Vice Chancellor of ABU who was abducted at the Jama’a area of the city, among many others.
The Birnin Gwari connection
Investigation by Daily Trust revealed that the areas affected by the recent wave of kidnapping have direct or indirect routes that linked them with Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
For instance, Madaci community is along the Zaria-Birnin Gwari road, while Kuregu community is also adjacent to the same road.
Jama’a, where the former ABU VC’s daughter was abducted, has a route that links it with villages in Giwa local government area up to Birnin Gwari.
Again, Low-Cost, where the last incident took place, is neighbouring a bush that extends to the Zaria-Kaduna Express Road up to the main campus of the Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, running to villages in Giwa Local Government Area up to Birnin Gwari.
Residents of Low-Cost interviewed by our correspondent requested the Kaduna State government to construct a bridge on the stream that links the area with the bush, which the kidnappers use in accessing the community.
The bridge, according to them, will bring development to the bushy section of the route and subsequently the “evil-minded criminals” will find it extremely difficult to move into the community.
Like other cities and towns across Nigeria, insecurity bedeviling the country is also taking its toll on the old city of Zaria. Most residents believed that it is time for all and sundry to join and support security agencies in the fight, while praying for divine intervention. (Daily Trust)