Tackle menace of kidnapping on Lokoja/Abuja Highway

It is becoming worrisome, the rate of kidnappings occurring along the Lokoja/Abuja Highway, especially along the Abaji/Kwali axis of the road.

The kidnappers usually lay ambush for unsuspecting motorists plying the highway and seize them to the bush before establishing contacts with their loved ones to demand for ransoms.

Many travelers/motorists plying the road often fall victims and  are made to pay millions of naira as ransoms before they regain freedom.

Some of the victims who are not lucky enough get killed either through gunshots by the kidnappers or accidents that ensue while they try to escape from the scene of such attacks.

For instance, on November 26, 2019, armed gunmen suspected to be kidnappers killed a driver and abducted 13 passengers along the Abuja-Lokoja road.

The incident occurred at Sabon-Gari Village when the hoodlums laid an ambush along the road and opened fire on moving vehicles.

The gunmen, according to an eyewitness, dressed in army uniforms and shot the driver of a Toyota Highlander coming from Lokoja axis.

The driver on sighting the gunmen had attempted to escape but one of the hoodlums opened fire and killed him instantly.

It was gathered that an 18-seater commercial bus coming from Abaji ran into the hoodlums, who fired gunshots and whisked all the occupants into the bush.

On December 31, 2019, nemesis however caught up with the kidnappers as four of them were shot dead by the police during their nefarious operation at Manyare Village near Kotonkarfe on the Abuja/Lokoja Highway.

It was learnt that three among the alleged kidnappers were arrested at the scene while attempting to escape into the bush and about seven AK-47 rifles were recovered from them.

The kidnappers usually take advantage of the bad portion of the highway to perpetrate their heinous crimes.

I therefore call on the police high command to deploy more surveillance teams to that axis to checkmate the deadly activities of these criminal elements operating on that particular road.

This is more so that the road serves as a major linkage between the northern and the southern parts of the country.

The police and other security agencies must also rise to the occasion in tackling the rising cases of kidnapping in other places such as Abuja, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna and Zamfara, just to mention a few.

For instance, kidnapping along the Abuja/Kaduna became recurrent phenomenon at some point thereby preventing many people rights including high profile personalities from travelling to Kaduna by road.

This is sad and quite unfortunate, to put it mildly.

Most Kaduna-bound travelers nowadays prefer to make use of train rather than going by road for fear of being kidnapped.

Abuja, the capital city, is also not left out in the kidnapping menace. Areas such as Kuje and Abaji have witnessed kidnappings including those traditional rulers.

In most cases, huge sums of money were paid as ransoms before the victims could be released.

A situation whereby people no longer feel safe even within the capital city is a wake up call that all is not well.

In a similar vein, communities in Katsina and Zamfara have also come under siege of vicious attacks by suspected kidnappers.

The security architecture and strategy in the country no doubt need to be fine-tuned to tackle these ugly trends before we are all consumed.

Bala Garba writes from Lokoja


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