Bandits who kidnapped the 57 passengers riding in a Niger State Transport Authority bus have given conditions for them to stop kidnapping.
One of the freed victims on the bus that was attacked on February 14, 2021, Hauwa Abdulsalam, said this in an interview after their release at the Niger State Government House in Minna.
Abdulsalam, who narrated her experience in captivity in the seven days spent with the kidnappers, said: “It was on 14th Sunday, February 2021.
“We were on our way back to Minna from Raju so when we reached Kundu village before Zungeru bridge, we saw some gunmen who stopped the driver with their guns.
“They started shooting and shot two bullet at the driver’s boy.
“So they asked the driver to open the door.
“And they were shouting at us to bring out our money and our phones else they would kill us.
“So we decided to give them all the phones and money we had.
“Later they asked us to come down from the bus, which we did and they sent us inside the bush.
“Then we started trekking and we trekked for about 5km.
“Then they took pity on the women and decided to take us with their bikes.
“Then around 5pm we stopped and decided to wait for the men to come.
“From there, we continued to trek for another 60km with our bare foots.
“They started beating us, but they beat the men more.
“Some people were injured.
“We continued trekking till 4:30am then they asked us to sleep on the rock.
“Around 7am, we were woken up to start walking.
“We continued trekking again for about 15km and from there they took us to our destination (where we would sleep), under the mango tree.
“From there they decided to make something up to upload on the Internet so government can see because they were telling us that their target is for the government and since they saw that it was the government vehicle (NSTA) that we were in, that was why they stopped us.
“After the video, they uploaded everything on the Internet.”
When asked if there was network around the area they were, Abdulsalam said the bandits had to trek to another rock different from where they were to get service.
She said: “To get Internet, they had to trek to another rock different where we were staying.
“So, it was the next day.
“I don’t know if it was the government that sent a flight that was targeting the mango tree where we were.
“That very day our lives was in danger because some people were urinating on their bodies.
“Some of the old women were scared and some had hypertension because we were all scared.
“When they discovered that the target was on them, they decided to move us to another 7km.”
On the description of the bandits, Abdulsalam said they cannot be described because they were armed, heartless and fearless.
She said: “They cannot be described.
“They were armed, heartless and fearless people.
“They were saying that they would kill us and they meant it.
“I swear they meant it.
“Because they swore that as at yesterday, which is the deadline, they would start killing the men, while this morning they would start killing the women.
“The leader swore and he meant it.
“He said his name is Kachala Ali.
“They were complaining about the government.
“That the government promised them some things during the election and all these fake promises of politicians was what made them become bandits and kidnappers.
“So I asked one of them what he wanted from the government and he said if the government can fulfill their promises of giving them shelter, hospitals, good education and payment of salaries to some of them, but the government refused.
“After the election, the government then decided no to fulfill their promises.
“All they were saying was about government.”
Speaking on how they coped for seven days in the bush, Abdulsalam said they drank water from the same river they had their baths.
She said: “We were drinking dirty water.
“We bath with the water in the river and they still gave us same water to drink.
“I am very happy, I thank Allah for rescuing us because my family members were the largest number of the kidnapped victims.
“We were about 16 in number.
“While we were in captivity, we were just thinking about how our parents were feeling and we lost any hope of seeing our family again.
“We thank Allah that we survived and we are here with our families.
“My advice is for the government to please do something very fast because these people are very dangerous.
“They have most of the arms you people are not expecting them to have and they can deal with any person.”