Relief and tranquillity enjoyed by commuters and drivers after four weeks of the restoration of peace in the Birnin-Gwari axis of Kaduna State through the combined operation of security agencies have been disturbed as armed bandits may have resumed with full force as they kidnapped travellers on the same route between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Speaking to PRNigeria in a telephone interview, Awwali Nagote, one of the drivers who escaped the attack, said armed bandits had intercepted some travellers and drivers and whisked them away into the bush.
Nagote said: “I was approaching the Labi area of the Birnin-Gwari highway when I noticed several vehicles, mostly commercial buses and lorries, parked by the roadsides, while the armed bandits were herding some of the captives into the bush.
“Then we saw some of the armed men shooting towards our direction and we quickly left our vehicles and ran for our dear lives.
“One of the intercepted vehicles was a trailer belonging to BUA Cement and another long Dangote truck among other vehicles conveying travellers to Lagos.”
Meanwhile, it was gathered that some of the victims have been rescued by the security personnel in collaboration with local vigilante groups.
A leader of the local vigilante group that assisted in the rescue operation said the bandits only strike when security men are withdrawn late in the night and before their return to the duty posts the following morning.
The vigilante leader, who craved anonymity, said: “The bandits are using new methods of kidnapping, using the same points that security personnel left in the evening to perpetrate their nefarious activities.
“They even killed some of their victims between yesterday and this morning around Labi along Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna highway.
“There were notable positive changes in the last one month when the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai, flagged-off the 2 Battalion Forward Operation Base at Birnin-Gwari with a mandate to the troops to go after the bandits and wipe them out, while the police also arrested and paraded some of the vicious kidnappers and cattle rustlers terrorizing travellers and people living in our communities.
“The challenges are that some of the security personnel leave the security posts in the night and return the following morning.
“It is in between the period the security personnel are not on the ground that the armed bandits do the kidnapping.”
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer of the Kaduna State Command, Mukhtar Aliyu, said he was yet to receive full details of the resumption of armed banditry along Birnin-Gwari Highway, adding that the command has increased surveillance on the flash-points.