Nearly two weeks after the reported kidnap of some police officers by bandits, police authorities have neither confirmed nor denied the abduction or stated efforts to secure their release.
According to a report by BBC Hausa, 12 officers, who are assistant superintendents of police, were kidnapped about two weeks ago but it was not reported in the media until Tuesday.
The officers were on their way to Zamfara State from Borno to carry out a special assignment before they were abducted by the bandits in Katsina.
On Thursday, Punch newspaper reported that the number of kidnapped officers is six. The paper said eight of the officers embarked on the trip, and when the kidnappers struck, two escaped leaving behind six.
According to the paper, families of the abducted police officers are said to be trying to raise N3 million each as ransom after the kidnappers made contact.
“When they were released to go to Zamfara, they scheduled a day for the trip from Maiduguri, but one of them said he wasn’t comfortable with the trip and declined to join them,” a source was quoted as saying.
“He said he had something to do and promised to join them in Zamfara later. So, the eight others left, but on getting to Kano, the driver said he couldn’t continue the journey to Zamfara, because his vehicle had developed a fault.
“They joined another vehicle and on their way around Dongodaji in Katsina State, the bandits accosted and kidnapped them.
“While being taken away, two of them escaped and one of them was shot in the leg, though he didn’t die. He found himself at a village and the villagers took him to a police station and he was taken to a hospital.
“The other six officers are still with the bandits who are demanding N100m ransom.”
A police officer was quoted as saying the incident did not come to light as soon as it occurred because the commander, Mopol 6, did not know about the abduction.
“He was supposed to relay the information of the kidnap, but he said he didn’t know about it when he was asked; instead, he referred inquiries to the Zamfara state police command,” the officer was quoted to have said.
Apart from the growing security challenges bedevilling the country, Zamfara and Katsina states are amongst the North West states most affected by the activities of bandits.
In the past few years, hundreds have been killed and many kidnapped in the two states.
The states have also seen frequent attacks from bandits in recent years, despite heightened security measures in the area and assurances from the federal government and security agencies.
The national police spokesperson, DSP Frank Mba, neither answered multiple calls nor text messages sent to his phone since Tuesday.
PREMIUM TIMES also reached out to the spokespersons of the police in the three states involved.
However, none of them denied, confirmed or commented categorically on the issue.
“I can tell you that there is no case of abduction in Zamfara,” Mohammed Shehu, the state’s police command spokesperson said via telephone.
He refused to comment when PREMIUM TIMES asked him if he is aware of the case since the officers were deployed to the state. Rather than give a definitive response, the spokesperson directed our reporter to the state where the kidnap reportedly took place.
He did not mention the name of any state on the grounds that he does not want to be quoted.
Also, speaking with our reporter, Basten Debaye, the spokesperson of the police in Borno State where the abducted officers began their journey, said he does not know about any abduction.
When PREMIUM TIMES probed further, he hung up the call. Multiple calls put across after were declined by Mr Debaye.
For Isah Gambo, the spokesperson of the police in Katsina State, where the kidnapping took place, all telephone calls and text messages were not responded to.
While the police authorities have kept mum on the kidnap, Nigerians have continued to clamour for increased efforts to secure their release.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, on Wednesday, urged that no resource should be spared to free them.
“I am concerned like many men and women of goodwill that a dozen police officers, who are charged with the protection of our lives and properties, are themselves victims of kidnapping. No resource should be spared to free them,” he wrote on Twitter.
Also, a former senate president, Bukola Saraki, begged that possible actions be taken by the Nigerian authorities.
“At this difficult time, my prayers are with the abducted officers and their families. I am sure that I echo the sentiments of all Nigerians when I say that we must pray for their safe return and take all possible actions to secure their prompt release.”
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