The gunmen, who abducted 29 wedding guests on Saturday in Sokoto, have asked to be paid a ransom of N145 million before they are released, the secretary-general of the Phone Sellers Association in the state, Nasiru Musa, told TVC News.
Many of the hostages are mobile phone dealers at the Bebeji Communication Market in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State.
They were abducted on Saturday evening while returning from the wedding of one of their colleagues in Tambuwal in Sokoto.
“The bandits called twice on Monday morning to inform us of their stand regarding our members that are with them”
“They said we should bring five million naira for each of the twenty-nine persons with them which in total is N145 million before they can be released,” Mr Musa said.
Immediately after the abduction, it was thought that 50 people were abducted but several of those thought to have been abducted returned home. Seven others were rescued by a member of a vigilante group operating in the area.
The chairman of the association, Mustapha Khalifa, told PREMIUM TIMES on the phone on Tuesday that some of them who escaped during the abduction are receiving treatment at the Talata Mafara General Hospital.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the bandits ambushed two buses conveying the wedding guests back to Gusau in Dogon Awo immediately after Bimasa village in the Tureta local government area of Sokoto.
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Kidnap for ransom, killings and displacement of innocent residents, cattle rustling, and armed robbery have become rampant in the north-west and some parts of the central region of Nigeria
The worst hits are farmers, women, and students and now travelling on federal and local highways is becoming dangerous as bandits block roads, abduct and kill motorists.
Major federal highways including Abuja-Kaduna, Gusau-Sokoto-Birnin Kebbi, and Birnin Gwari-Kaduna have become travellers’ nightmares with attacks and abduction or killing of travellers becoming a daily occurrence.
Travelling by train in the region has also become dangerous as some abducted Kaduna-bound train passengers are still in captivity more than 70 days after their abduction.
Despite efforts by security agents and vigilance group members to tackle banditry, the gunmen keep committing atrocities in the land.
In his speech Sunday morning to mark this year’s Democracy Day, President Muhammadu Buhari said he lives with grief and worry over the level of insecurity in the country.
“On this special day, I want us all to put all victims of terrorist activities in our thoughts and prayers,” he said.
“I am living daily with the grief and worry for all those victims and prisoners of terrorism and kidnapping.”
The Zamfara State government said it has been making efforts to rescue the victims.
“Zamfara state government is doing all it could to secure the release of Bebeji Youth from their abductors,” the director-general, new media at the Zamfara State government house, Ibrahim Zauma, told PREMIUM TIMES.
The spokesperson of the police command, Mohammed Shehu, said the police commissioner has sent special operatives to track the bandits and rescue the abductees.
Motorists, commuters attack highway robbers on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway with stones, cutlasses
Brave motorists and commuters on Wednesday fought with stones and cutlasses highways robbers who had come to rob them of their valuables in the early morning traffic on the Long Bridge of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Initially, there was apprehension on the bridge, inward Lagos State, opposite Mikano/Karameh City, around 5.55am when four gun-wielding men in black came, taking advantage of the traffic jam and started robbing motorists.
However, Vanguard reported that some passengers and motorists summoned courage to disrupt their operations by pelting them with stones.
Narrating his experience to Vanguard, a passenger said he was in a Mazda car that took off from Mowe, Ogun State.
According to Owokunle, seven passengers were on board the Mazda car, when the armed men were sighted in black cardigans, robbing unsuspecting road users.
He said: “The journey was very smooth from Mowe, but as we approached the Long Bridge, the driver was advised to be alert because of the perennial gridlock ahead.
“Shortly after, the driver sighted the suspects on the bridge stopping and robbing road users.
“People were scared and many drivers and passengers abandoned their vehicles and fled in different directions. “Fortunately, one of the road users shouted at the top of his voice, advising co-road users to stop running and to face the suspects.
“This was how the road users pelted the suspects with stones, while some drivers brought out cutlasses and rods to face the suspects.
“Sensing danger, the suspects descended the bridge and disappeared.”
Another road user, who simply gave his name as Gabriel, corroborated Owokunle, saying two car owners were robbed in his presence before the road users began a counter attack.
“This angered us and we faced the suspects with pebbles, cutlasses and rods,” he added.
Another road user, Aramide, said out of fear someone jumped from the bridge and this may lead to serious injuries.
“But nobody could wait to attend to him as people continued their journey after the nasty experience,” he said.
Spokesperson for Lagos State Police Command, SP Abimbola Oyeyemi, said that policemen had been detailed to some sensitive areas of the expressway to curtail suspicious activities.
He was reacting to an alarm by one Pastor Olaleye Gbenga of The Redeemed Christian Church, RCCG, claiming that some 20 persons were kidnapped on the Kara Bridge, along Lagos/Ibadan Expressway.
Lately, many motorists and commuters have lamented being trapped in the traffic induced by the ongoing road construction on the expressway, particularly around the Otedola Bridge, Kara and Long Bridge.
Motorists and commuters, while lamenting over the situation, were heard complaining that the road had become narrow due to the construction, and had slowed down vehicular movements.
The situation, however, worsened as robbers take advantage of the traffic to rob.
Some road users told Vanguard there was urgent need for government to beef up security on the expressway.
Ritual: Pastor, accomplice to die for beheading seven-year-old
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Lagos State Special Offences Court sitting at Ikeja, on Tuesday, sentenced a pastor, Erinmole Adetokunbo, and his accomplice, Adedoyin Oyekanmi, to death for killing a seven-year-old boy in the Ikorodu area of the state.
Justice Taiwo gave the verdict after the defendants changed their pleas from not guilty to guilty.
The men were arraigned on October 30, 2017, before the Lagos State High Court on two counts bordering on conspiracy and murder.
According to the charge sheet, Oyekanmi and Adetokunbo, on June 7, 2017, on Oke Oniburokun Street, Odokekere, Ikorodu, conspired to murder a seven-year-old boy, Kazeem Rafiu.
They were said to have beheaded Rafiu and buried the head around the church’s altar, while the body was kept in a canal.
Adetokunbo was later apprehended by residents. He was said to have confessed to the crime, naming Oyekanmi as his accomplice.
The duo led a team of policemen to the church, where the victim’s remains were recovered.
After four years of being remanded in prison, the state re-arraigned the convicts before the special offences court on September 21, 2021, as the trial commenced.
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At the resumption of trial for the prosecutor to present another witness to prove the allegations against the convicts, the court was informed by the state counsel, Mrs O. A. Bajulaiye, and the defence counsel, Ms Anthonia Otsokwa, that the men had decided to change their pleas.
Subsequently, the judge ordered their pleas to be taken.
The charges were read to them in Yoruba and they pleaded guilty to the two counts.
The state counsel, Mrs O. A. Bajulaiye, thereafter reviewed the facts of the case and urged the court to convict them accordingly.
While begging for mercy, the defence counsel, Ms Anthonia Otsokwa, told the court that the convicts had realised their offence and were remorseful for the death of the child.
In her judgement, Justice Taiwo noted that the case was a pathetic one as the defendants conspired and killed a child by cutting off his head for ritual purposes.
The judge said, “These defendants have committed a heinous crime and deserve no mercy. They have cruelly and intentionally killed a seven-year-old boy, depriving him and his family of a bright destiny.
“Section 222 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State imposes the death penalty for premeditated murder and I have no hesitation in imposing the said punishment.
“I hereby sentence Adedoyin Oyekanmi and Erinwole Adetokunbo to death for killing Kazeem Rafiu. May God have mercy on your souls.”
Fake Ekiti doctor defrauds 25 PoS operators
Men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Ekiti State, have arrested a 36-year-old man, Ayodeji Ademiluyi, for allegedly parading himself as a medical doctor and defrauding Point-of-Sale operators in the state capital.
The state Commandant of the agency, Mr John Fayemi, said the suspect defrauded the operators by sending fake alerts after collecting cash from them.
He said the suspect used an application on his phone, which also triggered a call from his fake hospital that a patient needed his attention.
“The PoS operator will then consider his status as a doctor and allow him to go. Later, the PoS operator will discover that he or she has been duped,” Fayemi added.
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The state NSCDC Public Relations Officer, Tolulope Afolabi, in a statement, said the commandant spoke in Ado Ekiti while parading Ademiluyi and another suspected fraudster, Innocent Ekpako, 26, who was arrested in Cross River State for allegedly defrauding his boss.
The commandant, who said Ademiluyi had been perpetrating the act within the Ado Ekiti metropolis, said, “The suspect had defrauded over 25 PoS operators before men of the Counter-Terrorism Unit launched a manhunt for him with their dragnet, which paid off when he was arrested yesterday (Monday). Preliminary investigation shows that he is not a doctor but an okada rider.”
Fayemi said Ekpako, who was arrested in Ikom, Cross River State, ran away with a huge sum of money belonging to his master in Ado Ekiti.
He said, “The suspect is a former employee of a store in Ado Ekiti where he worked as a sales representative before he was sent on an errand with some money which he did not return. He disappeared into thin air until he was tracked, traced and arrested in Cross River State. The two suspects have confessed to the crime.”
The commandant cautioned PoS operators and shop owners in the state to be careful of their workers and customers as the state command had been inundated with complaints bordering on PoS fraud and stealing.
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