The gunmen, who abducted 29 wedding guests on Saturday in Sokoto, have asked to be paid a ransom of N145 million before they are released, the secretary-general of the Phone Sellers Association in the state, Nasiru Musa, told TVC News.
Many of the hostages are mobile phone dealers at the Bebeji Communication Market in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State.
They were abducted on Saturday evening while returning from the wedding of one of their colleagues in Tambuwal in Sokoto.
“The bandits called twice on Monday morning to inform us of their stand regarding our members that are with them”
“They said we should bring five million naira for each of the twenty-nine persons with them which in total is N145 million before they can be released,” Mr Musa said.
Immediately after the abduction, it was thought that 50 people were abducted but several of those thought to have been abducted returned home. Seven others were rescued by a member of a vigilante group operating in the area.
The chairman of the association, Mustapha Khalifa, told PREMIUM TIMES on the phone on Tuesday that some of them who escaped during the abduction are receiving treatment at the Talata Mafara General Hospital.
It was earlier reported how the bandits ambushed two buses conveying the wedding guests back to Gusau in Dogon Awo immediately after Bimasa village in the Tureta local government area of Sokoto.
Kidnap for ransom, killings and displacement of innocent residents, cattle rustling, and armed robbery have become rampant in the north-west and some parts of the central region of Nigeria
The worst hits are farmers, women, and students and now travelling on federal and local highways is becoming dangerous as bandits block roads, abduct and kill motorists.
Major federal highways including Abuja-Kaduna, Gusau-Sokoto-Birnin Kebbi, and Birnin Gwari-Kaduna have become travellers’ nightmares with attacks and abduction or killing of travelers becoming a daily occurrence.
Travelling by train in the region has also become dangerous as some abducted Kaduna-bound train passengers are still in captivity more than 70 days after their abduction.
Despite efforts by security agents and vigilance group members to tackle banditry, the gunmen keep committing atrocities in the land.
In his speech Sunday morning to mark this year’s Democracy Day, President Muhammadu Buhari said he lives with grief and worry over the level of insecurity in the country.
“On this special day, I want us all to put all victims of terrorist activities in our thoughts and prayers,” he said.
“I am living daily with the grief and worry for all those victims and prisoners of terrorism and kidnapping.”
The Zamfara State government said it has been making efforts to rescue the victims.
“Zamfara state government is doing all it could to secure the release of Bebeji Youth from their abductors,” the director-general, new media at the Zamfara State government house, Ibrahim Zauma, told PREMIUM TIMES.
The spokesperson of the police command, Mohammed Shehu, said the police commissioner has sent special operatives to track the bandits and rescue the abductees.