Motorists, passengers, petty traders, farmers and residents along the Keffi-Bade Road between Nasarawa and Kaduna states have been robbed, wounded and killed in recent times. However, the recent killing of a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh, has exposed the scenario in high proportions.
For many years now, reports have it that bandits rob, injure and kill people along the Keffi-Bade Road and that the activities of the bandits intensified in 2018 at a sharp bend around Unguwan Mangoro Village near Tudu Uku Community before Zango Gitata, where Marshal Alex Badeh was killed.
A source said Marshal Alex Badeh was coming from his farm between Koso and Kugwaru communities when he was shot around 07:00pm, and that the military soon mobilised and arrived the scene.
A day after Alex Badeh was killed by the bandits, the Nasarawa State Police Command issued a statement signed by Idrisu John Kennedy with reference Number AZ:5250/NAS/PRD/VOL.1/258 with the subject: “Former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh (Rtd) Shot Dead.”
The statement read in part, “On the 18th of December, 2018, at about 1835hrs, the former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (Rtd), while returning from his farm located in Panda Development Area, Karu Local Government Area, was attacked by gunmen at Tudu-Uku along Gitata-Keffi Road. He was in company of his friend and driver when unknown gunmen ambushed and opened fire on his moving vehicle. The former Chief of Defence Staff suffered gunshot injuries which resulted to his death, while his driver was injured and the said friend abducted.
“Meanwhile, the police command, the Nigerian Army and air force personnel, led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police, are in the area with a view to rescue the abducted person and arrest the perpetrators of this dastardly act.
“Finally, the Commissioner of Police of Nasarawa State is calling on the general public with useful information that can aid the ongoing investigation to come forward with it and it shall be treated with utmost confidentiality through 08033041306 and 08033097663.”
Most of the people interviewed said they prayed for safe passage when approaching the point where Alex Badeh was shot and killed and heaved a sigh of relief when they passed the area. The place, nicknamed “Sharp bend”, is bushy with long grasses that encroach on the road thereby giving criminals a perfect hiding place to lay ambush on travellers.
A senior official of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) said the union lost four drivers in December, 2018.
Similarly, a senior official of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) said the association lost many drivers and passengers on the road.
The official particularly mentioned two drivers who were brutally killed by the armed robbers cum kidnappers: Ibrahim Garba, who was shot and eight of his passengers wounded, and Yahaya Usman, who was shot and killed and six passengers in his car wounded.
A modern farmer told Daily Trust Saturday that he had since avoided going to check his farm because of fear of being kidnapped, and that even when he had to, he did not tell anyone, apart from his family, about his direction; dressed in simple, cheap clothes and in a rickety car.
Recently, security experts talked about the possibility of kidnappers capitalising on tall grasses to harm people. They said the bush that encroached roads affected visibility of drivers and security personnel on patrol, but ironically exposed accident victims thereby aiding kidnappers and armed robbers to have access to their victims.
The Special Adviser on Security to Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, Gen. Muhammadu Dan-Hanne Isah (Rtd), said, “I am very much in support of clearing both shoulders of the road for clearer view. You can’t mortgage security of lives and property for beautification.”
Also, a former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to a former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Col. D. A. D Usman Dudu (Rtd) Esq, said, “Grasses are not supposed to encroach on the road, but that is not enough to give a good chance to kidnappers, but it enhances their operations. It only enhances that they cannot be seen and detected easily, and it means they can do anything. Tall grasses along the highways are supposed to be cleared to make the roads visible; not only along the major highways, but even along other roads and even rural roads in the country because if accidents occur, especially when there are no vehicles behind, the tall grasses will not make it easy for detection and rescue.”