Bandits in Katsina State have released 30 kidnapped victims, following the dialogue initiated by the state government with their leaders.
The victims were presented to Governor Aminu Masari at the Government House on Sunday in Katsina.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the victims were kidnapped by the bandits from Kankara and Shimfida, both in Jibia Local Government Area of the state.
They were thereafter taken to their hideout in Damsadau forest, Zamfara State, where they spent some weeks.
Addressing the victims, Mr Masari said that government would continue to persuade the bandits to release more kidnapped people until all of them were freed.
He directed that the released victims be taken to hospital for medical check up before reuniting them with their respective families.
One of victims, Zinatu Sani from Kankara, while narrating her ordeal in the hands of the bandits, said that she was kidnapped from her matrimonial home, with two of her children.
She said that the bandits demanded for a N20 million ransom before they could release her and the children.
Mrs Sani explained that the ransom was later reduced to N6 million which, she said, her family could still not afford to pay.
She said that the suspected bandits used to give them rice to cook, with only water and salt.
“For 55 days, we slept in an open place without a roof, not minding the rainfall or heat,” she lamented.
Mrs Sani expressed appreciation to the governor for securing their release, adding that there were still several other victims in the forest yearning for their release from the bandits.
The returnees were handed over to the Transition Committee Chairmen of Kankara and Jibia local government councils to ensure that they were reunited with their families after medical check up.
The Katsina Negotiation
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Katsina government earlier did a prisoner exchange with the bandits.
Nine bandits were released in exchange for five kidnap victims last week.
Katsina is one of the states most affected by bandits attacks. The armed bandits, sometimes in their hundreds, attack communities at will, killing many and kidnapping others for ransom.
The government, like that of neighbouring Zamfara State, has been negotiating with the bandits to drop their arms.