REPENTANT bandits in Katsina State have released additional 30 kidnap victims as part of the ongoing peace plan entered into with the government that involves the release of arrested criminals in exchange for innocent people abducted.
Over recent years, Nigeria has been wracked by insecurity as the Boko Haram insurgency rages in the northeast, the Middle Belt is taken over by armed Fulani cattle herdsmen and bandits have run riot in Zamfara State. Kidnapping and armed robbery have also been rife in many other states and according to Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina, his state too is now under siege.
Of late, moves have been stepped up to find a solution to the problem, with the government entering into dialogue with the bandits. Under the terms of a deal struck yesterday, six bandits detained by security agencies who had been terrorising eight local government areas in the state have been released in exchange for some kidnap victims who were recently abducted.
Dandume, Sabuwa, Faskari, Kankara, Safana, Danmusa, Batsari and Jibiya local government areas had come under intense bandits attacks for long. With the deal being struck, the bandits will cease operating and would also handover to government people they kidnapped that are in their custody.
Over the weekend, several victims were presented to Governor Masari at the Government House on Sunday in Katsina. They were kidnapped by the bandits from Kankara and Shimfida, both in Jibia Local Government Area of the state and thereafter taken to their hideout in Damsadau Forest in Zamfara State, where they spent some weeks.
Addressing the victims, Governor Masari said that government would continue to persuade the bandits to release more kidnapped people until all of them were freed. He directed that the released victims be taken to hospital for medical check-ups before reuniting them with their families.
One of the victims, Zinatu Sani from Kankara, while narrating her ordeal in the hands of the bandits, said that she was kidnapped from her matrimonial home, with two of her children. She added that the bandits demanded a N20m ransom before they could release her and the children.
Ms Sani explained that the ransom was later reduced to N6m, which she said, her family could still not afford to pay. She said that the suspected bandits used to give them rice to eat, with only water and salt.
“For 55 days, we slept in an open place without a roof, not minding the rainfall or heat,” she lamented.