By Abba Gwale
One of the Kwari Market traders that regained their freedom from the hands of kidnappers yesterday narrated his ordeal to Sahelian Times in an exclusive interview.
The person who preferred to be anonymous said they started having problems with the bus since before they left Kano and they had to help the driver and his people to put out fire from the tyres two times between Kano to Zaria.
“We took a bus from Kano heading to Aba for business but we started having problems with the tyres since we were in Kano. The bus stopped between Kano to Zaria two times because the car tyres were faulty. After we reached Zaria, we asked the driver to change the bus and the company sent another one for us and we proceeded to pass through Lokoja and Okene,” he said.
“There is one forest called Ofela, but before the Ofela forest there is also a small forest where we stopped because we heard people coming from the opposite road saying that armed robbers blocked the road and were robbing people. All people in the bus including the driver agreed that we would not proceed until the robbers finished their operation. It was during that stay the robbers ambushed us and started firing bullets that forced us to ran away, and in the process they shot the spare driver while he was running to save his life,” he continued.
“They attempted to shoot me but fortunately I escaped, and they went back leaving us in that scary situation. After some minutes, at around 2 am, they came back, arrested us and took us inside the bush where we trekked for more than three hours before we stopped. They tied our hands and eyes, they also asked us to search ourselves, threatening that they would kill anyone if they found anything in their pockets. We searched ourselves and gave them all our belongings including our phones, money, watches and everything. We were 18; some of us ran away during the first shooting.”
They came to us in the morning, gave us our phones and asked every one of us to call his relatives and say that we have been kidnapped and ransom must be paid. They priced each one of us; some 30 million, some 20, some 10, some 5, but they said my price was 20 million.
Our relatives together with market officials agreed to pay 10-15 million, but they were angered when they heard the price given by our people which led to them beat us with sticks, canes and guns.
There were series of heated arguments between them and our people in Kano about the ransom, and that was what led us to spend five days in their den.
When asked by Sahelian Times whether they gave them food, he said “They only gave us garri with salt and you can only have three spoons before they would send you away and call another person. They gave us pond water to drink.
At the end, our people paid 25 million as ransom for all of us before they agreed to let us go. It was bad experience, they almost broke my hand with stick, they slapped me uncountable times.
“They released us around 3pm yesterday. Those that took the ransom to them were the ones who took us back to Kano,” he added.
In his interview with Sahelian Times earlier today, the Kantin Kwari market spokesperson, Alhaji Mansur Haruna Dandago, also confirmed the release of the traders.
It will be recalled that kidnappers had, on last week, abducted 20 Kano traders, on their way to Aba for business, in Kogi state, in a small bush near Ofela forest.