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Gloomy days reign for Kagara families 87 days after kidnap of 38 residents 

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IN this report, The ICIR’s Lukman Abolade visited Kagara town in Niger State, where 38 residents were abducted by unknown persons who have demanded a N15 million ransom, as kidnapping reigns in the state.

ON Thursday, September 28, Isiya Lukudi, a resident of Kagara town in Niger State woke up early in the morning, around 7.00 am, to travel to Tegina, where he sells his farm products.

This has been Lukudi’s routine for over five years since he raised enough money to rent a shop in the nearby community.

He told The ICIR that he would return home to Kagara every day around 5.00 pm. But that did not happen on that Thursday. Terrorists attacked his village.

Isiya Lukudu
Isiya Lukudu

“I noticed that vehicles were not coming from the road that leads to Kagara, so I had to go to the garage to get a cab but they said they are not going,” Lukudi said.

After inquiries from officials of the motor park, Lukudi found out that Kagara was being attacked by kidnappers,again. 

Kagara was previously attacked by bandits on February 27 when terrorists kidnapped 27 students from the Government Science College, located in the town.

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Lukudi could not go to Kagara that evening until around 2.00 am, but when he got home his pregnant wife, Hassana Isiya, their children, and his sisters were gone.

How terrorists attacked Kagara

Residents of Kagara who spoke to The ICIR said the terrorists laid siege to the town around 5.00 pm that evening.

Bala Musa, a resident, said they were going about their business as usual when they noticed guns-wielding men on motorcycles emerging from the forest.

Musa, whose wife was kidnapped during the attack, said they heard sporadic gunshots that forced them to come outside their homes.

Bala Musa
Bala Musa

“We just heard gunshot from everywhere, people were running everywhere, we saw them on bikes, there were more than 200,” Musa said.

He said the terrorists dispatched themselves to different corners of the town, forcing doors open, chasing and abducting any man, woman, or children they could find.

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Aliyu Mohammed, another resident whose three children were kidnapped during the attack, said that he noticed that many of the terrorists also aimed at the palace of the Emir of Kagara town.

“While some of them were chasing local residents, I saw many of them on their way to the Emir’s palace. They wanted to abduct him too,” Mohammed said.

However, he said security operatives present in the town foiled the attempt to abduct the Emir.

A 36-year-old farmer, Alasa Isa Samboro, said the number of security operatives in the town was unable to foil the attack by the terrorists.

Samboro said the attackers came with ammunition, AK-47 rifles and machine guns, which helped them overpower the security operatives in Kagara that evening.

Alasa Isa Samboro
Alasa Isa Samboro

“We don’t know what to do anymore. Our families are with them, we are just seeking any help that we can get from Nigerian and we are also praying because it is only Allah that can help us out in this situation,” Samboro said.

A security operative attached to Operation Zuma, a security task force in Niger State, told The ICIR that the attack took them unawares. He said they had no clue that the terrorists were approaching Kagara town until they heard gunshots.

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“I was in the bush taking my bath when I heard gunshot. Immediately, I knew it was not any of our men, I had to quickly dress up and find somewhere to hide,” he said.

He added that he could not have joined the other security operatives because he knew the terrorists had superior weapons.

Terrorists demand 25 million ransom

Speaking on behalf of the Kagara residents whose family members were kidnapped in the village, Must told The ICIR that two weeks after the incident, the terrorists released 10 of the kidnapped persons with a letter demanding a ransom of N25 million naira, ten motorcycles, and thirty jerry cans of petrol.

Hassana, Lukudi’s wife, was one of the people released by the bandits. 

“Two weeks after, they released seven people who were given a letter to be delivered to the Emir, one week again, they released two pregnant women and another one who had high blood pressure,” Musa said.

He said they were not allowed to read the letter’s content, but it was read out to them by the Emir.

“They did not allow us to see the content of the letter, they only read it to us, I think it has been handed over to the police but that was their demand. They even left a telephone number for us to call them when we are ready,” Musa said.

He said the committee had contacted the terrorists and after negotiation, the terrorists insisted on N15 million ransom and three motorcycles.

The Niger Sate government has banned the sale of motorcycles due to banditry, but Musa said when he explained this to the terrorists, they asked him to buy it from another state.

Identities of abducted persons in Kagara

According to residents of Kagara, the kidnapped persons who are still about 25 persons in terrorists’ captivity. They include Grace Bala, Hannatu Jobab, Rahala Jobab, Zuwaira Yahaya,  Rasika Muhammad Shaharazalin Muhammad, Zuwaira Tijani.

Others are; Naomi Iliya, Jenat Istiphanus, Jecobe Istiphanus, Ezira Ali, Esther Moses, Hajara Samaila, Nasepa Isiya, Najiba Isiya, Ummaira Isiya, Fatima Isiya, Maimuna Isiya, Hauwa Muhammad, Aisha Muhammad, Adawa Jacob, Aisha Shehu,  Bayi Ali, Larai Rabiu, Wasila Alhassan, Najiba Tijani, Iye Yakubu, and Bashir Suleiman.

Government feigns ignorance

As the families of the kidnapped people battle with the trauma of their wives, children, and relatives, the Niger State government has ignored their plights.

The ICIR gathered that since the kidnap incident, no government official has visited the town to meet the families of the kidnapped residents.

Also, the Niger State Police command has failed to visit the community to chart a way to rescue or release the kidnapped residents.

Musa, who heads the committee of people whose families were kidnapped in the attack, told The ICIR that their elected officials have refused to help them out.

“We have tried to look for help from the government but they have refused to show up, we followed the politicians, they also did not respond, we cried but they sent us away,” Musa said.

When contacted, the Niger state Commissioner for Information Muhammed, Sani Idris, said he would get back to our reporter, but he failed to do so.

He refused to answer subsequent calls.

Also, the Niger state Police Public Relations Officer, Wasiu Abiodun, did not respond to calls on December 3rd and 6th.

He was also sent a message on  December 3rd to speak on the attack, although the message was delivered, he did not respond.

Bandit attacks on Rafi Local government in 2021

Kagara is one of many other towns in the Rafi local government that has been a hotspot for kidnappings and violent attacks for more than five years.

The local government has seen a lot of bad days ranging from attacks on security operatives, kidnap of schoolchildren, and other killings.

In 2021, there have been at least four major attacks on innocent civilians in Niger State.

On February 27, seven months before the September 28 attack, terrorists kidnapped 27 students from the Government Science College in Kagara, Niger state.

In May, the terrorists also attacked and kidnapped about 136 students from the Salihu Tanko Islammiyya school in Tegina, a few kilometres away from Kagara town; most of the children have been released after payment of ransom.

In October, some gunmen in military uniform also attacked and kidnapped 13 passengers along Teginna – Minna Road.

Two weeks ago, on Sunday, November 14, gunmen attacked a sachet water factory in Tegina and abducted four persons.

In 2021 alone, over 200 residents of the Rafi local government have been kidnapped by terrorists.

The Secretary to the Government of Niger State, Ahmed Matane, had said that terrorists have now taken over five communities in the state.

Matane said the communities include Kurebe, Farina Kuka and Gussau in Shiroro Local Government and Madaka and Hanawanka in Rafi LGA.

“The state government has already notified security agencies for proper urgent security measures to ensure the safety of residents,” Matane said.

He added that the state government had spent two billion naira fighting banditry and kidnapping, but criminal activities reign in the state.

This report is produced in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD). 

Author profile

Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via labolade@icirnigeria.org, on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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