Not less than 21 passengers travelling in the Niger State Government-owned transport authority (NSTA) vehicle were yesterday abducted by suspected bandits in Kundu village near Zungeru in the Yakila District of Rafi Local Government Area of the state.
This is just as the Chief of Staff to the state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe, who a few minutes before the bandits struck, passed through the village, and escaped being kidnapped.
The District Head of Yakila, Alhaji Abdulhamid, was kidnapped over three months ago in the area, and has not been released by the bandits.
The incident, according to reports, occurred at about 3p.m. when the bandits laid ambush as the public transport vehicle ran into the blockade.
It was learnt that not less than 21 of the passengers in the ill-fated bus which was said to be carrying almost 40 passengers, were kidnapped and taken into captivity.
The Director-General of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency, Alhaji Ibrahim Inga, who confirmed the incident to THISDAY in a telephone interview, said the Chief of Staff to the governor got to the spot of the incident shortly after the passengers had been abducted and taken into the bush.
Inga said: “We met a woman with her child who was left behind by the bandits, and she told us that 18 other passengers in the bus have been taken away by the bandits, who she said numbered about 40 and were heavily armed.
“The only thing I can tell you now is we have rescued the woman and her baby, and she is in the vehicle with us. We are on our way to Minna. She told us that the bandits blocked the road and went away with 18 other passengers who were on the bus.
“No government official was among those kidnapped. I can’t give more than that for now because the woman is traumatised and we cannot ask her too many questions for now.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Wasiu Abiodun, could not be reached for confirmation of the incident.
However, a source at the state police headquarters told THISDAY that some of the passengers who escaped were seen there being interrogated and profiled.