June 13, (THEWILL) – Gunmen suspected to be bandits have reportedly abducted over 40 traders and wedding guests who were travelling along the Sokoto-Zamfara road on Saturday.
Spokesperson of the Zamfara Police Command, Muhammad Shehu, who confirmed the incident in a statement on Sunday, said the victims were returning from a wedding in Tambuwal local government area of Sokoto State, when they ran into an ambush mounted on the road by the bandits.
“The wedding guests were returning to Zamfara around 6pm from a wedding in Tambuwal local government area of Sokoto State when they were waylaid by the bandits who mounted a road block on the expressway.
“The gunmen shot sporadically at the vehicles they were travelling in and abducted about 40 people, while around 20 managed to escape”, Shehu said.
He added that the state Police Commissioner has despatched a crack team of officers to the area to comb the forests and rescue the victims.
A victim, who managed to escape the ambush said some of those who were abducted were traders who sold mobile phones at the Bebeji Plaza Market in Zamfara State, who had travelled to Sokoto for a wedding.
Secretary of Union of Communication, Zamfara State, Ashiru Zurmi, while narrating the incident to newsmen in Gusau on Sunday, said one of the vehicles conveying the guests developed a fault at Tureta in Sokoto state and it was fixed by an automobile mechanic after about 40 minutes.
He said the bandits ambushed the vehicles after the repair of the faulty vehicle along Tureta-Bakura road and over 50 persons were abducted.
Zurmi noted that more than 20 persons later managed to escape, while some of them sustained various degrees of injuries.
“It happened that their motor developed fault at Tureta and they got a mechanic; for about 40 minutes, he assisted them and got the motor repaired; they started coming to Zamfara, but within the Tureta and Bakura axis, the kidnappers ambushed them; over 50 people were abducted but Alhamdulilah over 20 people escaped”, Zurmi said.
He confirmed that 30 members are currently in captivity and the abductors have contacted the members of their Union, confirming that they are with them.
“We have identified thirty members that are still in captivity, luckily today they used phones of those captives (about five of our members) to call us; they only notified us that they are with them”, he said, adding that no ransom has been demanded yet by the bandits.
Zurmi also suspected the involvement of informants which he said might have notified the kidnappers about their movement.
“Definitely something like that happened; we have that in our minds that there was an informant that gave the information to the bandits to attack them because it was just only them, other passenger cars were passing, but they did not care about them, they only concentrated on the coaster bus that has Zamfara Government number.”
Zurmi appealed to relevant authorities for urgent intervention and to ensure safe return of the abductees.
The chairman of the phone vendors who spoke on the abduction of his members, said the traders were returning to Gusau after attending a wedding of their colleague in Sokoto State when the incident happened between Tureta-Bakura road around 6 PM on Saturday.
The vehicles conveying the wedding guests were a Toyota coaster bus belonging to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), a Gusau Local Government Secretariat staff vehicle and two other private vehicles.
He explained that the traders numbering about 50 were traveling in a 40-passenger Toyota coaster bus and an 18-passenger hiace bus when they ran into the bandits who destroyed their vehicles with bullets before abducting about 40 of them, while the others managed to escape.
“They ran into the bandits on Saturday evening between Tureta and Bakura along the Sokoto-Zamfara road after leaving the wedding venue in Tambuwal”, he said.