Kidnapping still rife along Birnin-Gwari road despite establishment of military battalion

Picture used for illustrative purposes

Despite the establishment of a military battalion at Birni-Gwari, a mining community in Kaduna State, in an effort to maintain peace and security, incidents of violent crimes in the area, especially kidnapping, continue unabated.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that at least 100 people have been kidnapped along the Kaduna-Birnin-Gwari road in the past few days.

The report said the accounts of the kidnappings were given by “officials, witnesses and relatives of those abducted”.

On May 5 this year, gunmen attacked Birnin-Gwari community, killing more than 50 persons. Earlier in April, nine miners had been killed by gunmen, who opened fire on them at their mining site in Birnin Gwari. The attackers also burnt some of the bodies of the slain miners.

Reacting to the development, Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of a permanent military battalion in the area, as well as the creation of one police area command and two divisional police headquarters, in order to beef up security in the area.

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“The engagements between the State and Federal Governments have yielded results. President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of a permanent Battalion of the Nigerian Army in the Birnin Gwari general area,” El-Rufai said.

“The new security arrangements also involve policing. The Inspector General of Police has already announced the creation of the Birnin Gwari Police Area Command and two new Divisional Police Headquarters.”

But it seems the violence is yet to wane.

“Over 120 people were kidnapped between Friday and today (Tuesday) along the Birnin Gwari-Kaduna road,” Surajo Usman, an official of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), told Reuters, adding that he had escaped an abduction himself.

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Another respondent, Yahaya Hussaini, who works for a civil society group, said his organization’s convoy was attacked alongside other vehicles along the road. Many were kidnapped.

“On Sunday, in our entourage alone four vehicles were blocked by the kidnappers in military fatigue,” he said,  eight of whom carried assault rifles.

“They kidnapped about 48 people. Many of those vehicles attacked are still left on the road and the luggage of victims still litters it,” Hussaini added.

Also narrating his experience, Ibrahim Aliyu, another respondent, said his daughter was one of those that were kidnapped on Sunday. He said the kidnappers were demanding N5 million before they would release the girl.

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“Where do I get that kind of money that I have never seen in my life?,” he asked.

When contacted, Austin Iwar, Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, said he is unaware of the development. He insisted he would have been informed if such an incident occurred in the place, but added that he would investigate the claim.

Suspected criminals arrested along Kaduna-Birnin-Gwari road

On May 10, the police paraded 57 suspects it said were arrested on for alleged involvement in armed robbery- car snatching, cattle rustling, kidnapping and possession of illegal firearms along the Birnin Gwari road.

Assorted arms and ammunition, cash and other valuables were recovered from the arrested suspects, according to Jimoh Moshood, the force PRO.

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