Bandits turn Niger village into concentration camp for victims

From John adams, Minna

A Kidnapped victim from the Zagzaga community in the Munya local government area in Niger state, Haliru Musa, who escaped from the bandits’ lair, revealed how an entire village was seized and turned into a camp where the victims are detained.

Haliru, 35, was among 55 victims kidnapped in Zagzaga about a month ago when bandits invaded the community.

Just last week, the bandits rejected the 5 million naira donated by the community for the release of their victims, insisting that each victim must pay 1 million naira before being freed.

So far, eight people have managed to escape their captors and Haliru was among the lucky ones, but not without a bitter experience.

After three weeks in captivity, Harliru and his friend, Saidu, managed to escape the bandits after crawling on elbows, knees and stomach in the bush overnight for over an hour.

Haliru said that from 8 p.m., he and his friend walked through the bush all night until 6 p.m. the next day without food or water until they got to safety.

Haliru, who told the Daily Sun about his three-week ordeal at the hands of his captors in an exclusive interview, painted a detailed picture of the camp where they were being held. He said they were being held in a small village made up mostly of farmers who spoke the Gbagyi and Hausa languages.

The village, he said, is about 50 kilometers from the community of Kusasu in the LGA of Shiroro in Niger state, on the border with Kaduna state.

Speaking in Hausa, Haliru said, “They kept us in a village, not in the bush. There were people who lived there because there were houses there. The people were farmers and they spoke Gbagyi and Hausa.

According to him, the bandits seized some rooms of the people of the community, where the victims were being held: “They shared us in the rooms. Between five and six people slept in a room and we were not allowed to see outside except when we wanted to pray or relax.

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“When the food was ready, they would ask the women who usually cooked for us to bring the food to the room for us. We drank the same stream water that the people of the village drank.

He said the women among them were separated and taken to another place where the bandit commanders remained in the village. He said he couldn’t say what happened to the women there.

Haliru revealed that the bandits sometimes took them to the community’s farms to harvest their produce, mainly yam tubers, which they were fed, adding that the community did not dare to challenge the gunmen.

“The only food we ate was yams, and they usually took us to people’s farms to harvest the yams and they asked the women in the community to cook it for us. We ate once a day, ”he explained.

During the three weeks he spent in captivity, he and his co-abductees were not allowed to bathe. The only time the water touched their bodies was during ablution before prayers.

He told the Daily Sun that in addition to the 55 of them who were kidnapped in the community of Zagzaga, other victims were kidnapped from other nearby communities, pointing out that there were more than 100 in the camp before his miraculous escapes.

Although Haliru said he could not count the number of their captors, they could not be less than 70, all fully armed with sophisticated weapons, adding: because anyone who tried him would be shot.

“Even the villagers weren’t allowed out of the community, but they weren’t locked inside like us. They were confined to the village. They didn’t even allow them to go to the farm.

On how he managed to escape with his friend, Haliru said, “We told them we wanted to go and relax; we took some rubber kettles and went behind the house. In the process, they brought us food and it distracted them a bit, and when we found out their attention was not with us, I told my friend that we should go into the bush.

“We started crawling on our knees and even on our stomachs until we could get out of the village before we started walking in the bush. We walked all night until the next day before arriving in Kusasu, where we saw people, and they helped us with food and transport money to reach our destination in Zagzaga ”, a- he declared.

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