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Thursday, 28 March 2019
Security Alert! Gunmen Regularly Kidnap Children in Jos, NorthCentral Nigeria
AHMAD Salkida, a Nigerian journalist with expertise in conflict and terrorism reporting, says that residents of Jos have recently been gripped by fear as a result of frequent kidnapping activities, with majority of the victims being children.
The journalist, who is renowned for his in-depth reportage of the Boko Haram crisis, revealed this on Wednesday through a series of tweets, adding that the abductions take place “right under the noses of the elite formations of the Armed Forces — Army, Air Force, Navy, Secret Service, Police and paramilitary arms in the metropolis” unlike in Zamfara State where they are often perpetrated in rural communities.
He noted that he has documented over 40 cases of such incidents in the state between January and March.
“Insecurity is turning a gory, brazen, page with new incidents of kid kidnappings making the rounds in Jos, Plateau State,” Salkida said.
Based on his findings, he estimated that about 90 per cent of the victims are children aged between two and 10 years. He also pointed out the likelihood of a collusion between the kidnappers, security formations, unemployed youth population, and vigilantes, because of the circumstances of the kidnappings.
“There is a reported incident of a four year old who was abducted in his sleep. Mostly, it is the middle income families that are targeted. A staff of a private firm with his wife and three kids were traumatised in the dead of night when four gunmen forced their way into their bedrooms,” he narrated.
“With barely 15,000 Naira cash in the house, their five year old was instantly abducted, awaiting ransom. The distraught family ran to the Police in desperation, but the officers advised them to act wisely by heeding the instructions of the gunmen/kidnappers.
“The family finally raised 500,000 Naira ransom for release of their child. Another family, invaded by the gunmen at 2am experienced the same trauma but with different details. Insisting that it was better for her to be abducted rather than her children the woman submitted herself and walked for eight hours with the gunmen into the bush.
“When the husband finally laid hold of the ransom about 12 hours later, he was instructed by the kidnappers on where to drop off the cash and where to pick up his wife.”
Salkida said he decided against disclosing the identities of the victims in order not to sabotage the “assumed official investigation” by the police. He also said, judging from the testimonies, the gunmen are suspected to be people already acquainted with the victims.
He said: “A victim reported the experience of his head being kept down to forestall any eye contact but nevertheless found a voice familiar. Many of the victims are too afraid to speak out.”
“On the average, there are between three and four abduction cases in Jos each week. But many sources insist that the cases are understated believing that there are more cases of child abductions right in front of their parents in Jos than are admitted,” he added.
“The kids were usually seized in the absence of cash in the house. And the choice is usually death or abduction, the family chooses to let go of a child while they scrambled to raise money for ransom payments days later. The police have not been able to help the victims, so far.
“It is believed that many middle income families are taking steps to avert the attendant trauma by keeping at least 100,000 Naira at home. A troubled family lamented, ‘we cannot hide our children in the house. The gunmen seem to have information about us. We are helpless.'”
In the past months, hoodlums have continuously attacked communities in Zamfara State, leaving hundreds of residents dead and many villages deserted. Earlier this month, a minimum of 113 persons were reported killed in the local government areas of Shinkafi, Anka and Tsafe.