Residents of Janbako, an agrarian community in Maradun Local Government, Zamfara State have resorted to prayers after terrorists refused to release members of the community after collecting a ransom of N17 million and a motorcycle.
The captives have spent more than 40 days in captivity.
The residents of the community said they expected the victims to be released after the ransom was paid but the terrorists are still holding on to the captives
The terrorists attacked the community on 15 August and abducted 21 residents of the community mostly women and children.
Three days later, the terrorists reached out to the community and demanded N50 million as ransom. But residents said they couldn’t raise such a huge amount.
“They abducted my two wives, Rayyanatu and Farisha, my daughter, Halimatu and my niece, Sha’awa when they came. In all, they took about 21 people in our town, most of them being women and children,” Saidu Samaila, a resident of Janbako said.
He said he has not heard from any of his immediate family members since the abduction.
Another resident who only gave his name as Kasimu said the community met and decided to discuss the ransom demanded by the terrorists.
“When they said N50 million, we knew it would be impossible because we couldn’t gather such an amount. We’re nothing but farmers and local traders and farming is near impossible now. Even trading, how many people now go to local markets? It’s impossible because the bandits are all over the place abducting and killing people. So, we met and decided to ask them for a reduction,” Mr Kasimu, whose sister was among those abducted, said.
After a series of negotiations, the terrorists agreed to accept N17 million and a brand-new Boxer motorcycle as ransom.
Residents of the community gathered N10.5 million. They reached out to people from the community living or working in other places in the country and taxed themselves.
“When we took the money, they said we should try to get the balance before they kill our people,” a community leader, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told PREMIUM TIMES over the phone. “We had to source for the remaining N5.5 million to make it N17 million but before we took the money, they called and asked that we buy a brand new motorcycle as part of the ransom. It was a new request but we had no option.”
The community leader said seven days after the balance and the motorcycle were given to the terrorists, they are yet to release the captives.
“We’ve resorted to prayers now because we don’t know why they’re yet to release our families for us,” Mr Samaila said.
PREMIUM TIMES reached out to the police spokesperson in the state, Yazeed Abubakar, to seek more details on the development but received no response.
Residents of rural communities in Zamfara and other north – western states are forced to routinely cough up huge amounts of money to pay terrorists either as ransom or protection levies. Despite the economic situation in the country, residents in the vulnerable communities are left with no option but to gather the money through whatever means.
PREMIUM TIMES has reported some of the attacks launched on Janbako, Faru, Gora and other neighbouring communities in the last few months. In June this year, 21 vigilante members all from Janbako were killed by terrorists while the vigilante members were on a rescue mission to help residents of Sikida, a neighbouring community that came under attack.
North- west Nigeria has been witnessing a surge in banditry activities. Terror gangs especially in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna and Kebbi kill and or abduct residents from communities and on major and local highways and demand ransom sometimes in millions of naira before releasing the abductees.