A driver, Sa’idu Tanko, who plies the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari highway was killed after his vehicle was riddled with bullets from suspected terrorists who blocked the highway and abducted several passengers.
Mr Tanko, who is from from Tegina, a community in Rafi Local Government of Niger State, was conveying passengers from his hometown to Gusau in Zamfara State on Monday when his vehicle was attacked by the terrorists at Manini along the troubled highway.
The deceased’s colleague, Hassan Ahmad, who witnessed the evacuation of Mr Tanko’s body from the scene of the attack on Tuesday said the terrorists abducted seven passengers after the attack.
“He (Mr Tanko) left Tegina town Monday morning for Gusau with seven passengers onboard. Unfortunately, he arrived at the dreaded point of the highway late after the security operatives that normally escort commuters through the route had proceeded some minutes ago.
“He decided to follow them as he could see the convoy of vehicles, but the terrorists who were already in hiding at the roadside riddled his vehicle with bullets, they targeted the driver only, killing him on the spot, the vehicle hit an electric pole wire at the roadside and got stuck,” Mr Ahmad told PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr Ahmad said Mr Tanko was buried on Tuesday. He left behind four wives and 12 children.
Mr Ahmad said on Wednesday the terrorists contacted the families of one of the abducted passengers known as Auwalu Mechanic and demanded N30 million ransom.
The police spokesperson in Kaduna could not be reached immediately for comment on the development. His known phone number did not connect Wednesday evening.
But the leader of Birnin-Gwari Emirate Progressives Union (BEPU), Ishaq Usman, said the killing of the driver was one among several attacks by terrorists on the Birnin Gwari, Kaduna Highway in recent times.
Mr Usman said attacks on the highway have gone unreported despite their intensity in recent weeks, with several people abducted and killed.
“Armed bandits intensify attacks on travellers kidnapping and killing people including children. Almost every day, our people are been abducted on the roads or killed but only about 10 per cent of the incidents are reported.
“For instance, on the 19th of this month, a 10-year-old girl, Fatima, was shot and killed around Kwaga on Birnin-Gwari/Kaduna highway, about 10km from Birnin-Gwari town.
“In the last four weeks, the situation has worsened. Up to today (27 September), bandits are attacking travellers on the highway. One cannot dare follow the Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna highway without a security escort,” Mr Usman said.
Mr Usman identified the major flashpoints for terrorist attacks and kidnapping along the Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna highway as Manini, Runfan Kwano, Gayam/Palwaya, Kwaga/Kwanan-Shehu, Kwanan-Dutse and Gonan Lema.
Appeal to authorities
Mr Usman appealed to the Nigerian authorities to establish a military detachment in Katakaki of Kakangi Ward in the western part of Birnin-Gwari with at least 1, 000 military personnel.
He said this will help in dislodging various bandits’ camps and block the terrorists from using the axis as a route for coming out from Kwiambana, Kuzomani and Kamuku forests to attack Kaduna and Niger communities.
“The Nigerian Army should initiate inter-state coordinated security operations within the North-west and North-central and take the fight to the bandits’ hideouts in Kamuku, Kwiambana, Kuduru and other notorious forests in the regions.
“Nigerian Army should also restore military detachment in the Manini flashpoint of the Birnin/Gwari Kaduna Highway. New military detachments should also be established in Dagara and Tsohuwar Gwari which are strategic routes and points used by the armed bandits to attack communities and travellers.
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“More military personnel and equipment should be mobilised to patrol roads connecting Birnin-Gwari town. Daily security patrol on Birnin-Gwari/Kaduna and Birnin-Gwari/Funtua highways as well as Birnin-Gwari/Kakangi/Randagi road to prevent daily attacks against travellers by armed bandits.
“The government should restore the Mopol Unit of Damaritoo to put a stop to incessant attacks on commuters, farmers, traders and rural dwellers as well as stop bandits from using the route to attack various communities in far away Zaria, Giwa, Sabon-Gari and Igabi LGAs,” Mr Usman appealed.
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