By Musa Na Annabi & Ibrahim Wuyo
Over 60 passengers travelling to Kano from Sokoto by Sokoto State Transport Authority buses were reportedly abducted by bandits along the Sokoto-Gusau highway, on Sunday.
While the Zamfara State Police said a bus was hijacked with 11 passengers on board, the Sokoto State Transport Authority said they were still compiling the manifest of passengers, to have the exact number of passengers in the vehicles.
A motorist, Mohammed Yusuf, who narrowly escaped the abduction, said the bandits blocked the road near Dogon Karfe around 3 pm and kidnapped all the passengers in the three buses.
Yusuf stated: “They (bandits) suddenly came out of their hiding and started shooting in the air, thereby forcing the vehicles to stop.
“They abducted all the passengers in the three vehicles belonging to the Sokoto State Transport Authority, as well as the drivers.”
Yusuf added that when the bandits disappeared into the bush with the victims, the other motorists, including himself, drove as fast as they could out of the scene in case the hoodlums return to abduct them.
“Immediately they left the place, we all drove our vehicles very fast, because we thought that they would come back and pick some of us,” he added.
He called on the authorities to provide adequate security on the road as, according to him, the bandits are abducting people on it daily.
Also, a member of the Road Transport Workers, Bello Mai Laya, said lots of their members in Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states have lost their lives as a result of wanton activities of gunmen along the highway.
He said he is afraid if care is not taken, they would be left with no option other than to go on strike and take off their vehicles from the road.
According to him, even last week Sunday, gunmen took over the road around 4 pm shooting sporadically on any vehicle plying the road, which forced them to converge on Lambar Tureta on the Sokoto axis and Talata mafara from the Zamfara axis not until Army came to provide escort.
We’re compiling manifests —SSTA
Speaking, yesterday, General Manager of Sokoto State Transport Authority, Yahuza Chika, said the driver and conductor were said to have escaped from the vehicle before it finally came under attack.
He said the transport agency was still compiling the manifests of passengers to have the exact number of passengers in the vehicles.
Yahuza, however, said this was the first time vehicles of the SSTA had come under attack by gunmen or bandits along the busy highway since they started operation over 25 years ago.
Only one bus was hijacked—Police
Speaking with Vanguard, yesterday, the Zamfara State Police Public Relations Officer, Shehu Mohammed, said it is not true that three-bus load of passengers were hijacked.
“Only a bus with 12 passengers was hijacked and the driver has been rescued while the Police are working hard to rescue the remaining 11 passengers.”
Bandits kill two
Meanwhile, it was also gathered, yesterday, that the bandits blocked Wurno-Goronyo road around 5:00 p.m the same day, killing two people and abducting others.
The attack on Wurno-Goronyo road was also confirmed by the Chairman of Wurno Local Government Area, Abubakar Arzika.
He said two people, including a lady, were killed by the bandits.
He, however, could not confirm the abduction of other passengers along the road, saying police were still investigating the matter.
Police authorities in the state are yet to release a statement on the incident.
Bandits abduct monarch in Kaduna
It was gathered, yesterday, that the Paramount Ruler of Jaba chiefdom in Jaba Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Danladi Maude, was abducted by bandits on his farm.
Although the authorities in Kaduna State are yet to react, Mr Anthony Maude, who is a brother to the 80-year-old first-class monarch, told journalists on the phone that the royal father was abducted on his farm at Gitata in neighbouring Nasarawa State.
The brother did not give details of the abduction.