No fewer than 18 persons have been abducted within 18 hours by gunmen in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Oyo, Osun, Kaduna and Benue states.
Hoodlums also injured five almajiri during the Kaduna incident on Sunday. The bandits abandoned three children they had kidnapped during a crossfire with security operatives, who arrested two of them.
Nine of the Oyo State kidnap victims were seized from a hotel in Ajaawa, Ogbomoso, the headquarters of Ogo-Oluwa Council Area last Saturday. They included the proprietor of the hotel, Oyedokun Oyeniyi, and his wife, Busayo.
Those abducted in Kaduna were two housewives. One of them is the mother of the three children abandoned by the fleeing gunmen.
Three of the abductees are students of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State, while the FCT and Osun victims were bus passengers.
According to sources in Kaduna, the gunmen on arrival at Kofar Kuyambana Low Cost in Zaria at about 10 p.m on Sunday, seized the housewives and the three children from their homes.
One of the sources said the mother of the three children, Maryam Ibrahim, is the wife of a Customs officer. He gave the name of the second housewife as Hulera Haruna.
The source added that the five almajiri were hit by stray bullets when policemen and members of a vigilante group, who arrived at the scene engaged the hoodlums in a gun duel.
He said: “While the gunmen were escaping, they abandoned Hajia Maryam’s three children. But, they escaped with her.
“I cannot say if the criminals have contacted the families of those kidnapped. But, I know the injured almajiri are already receiving medical treatment at a health facility.”
The state Police Command spokesman, Mohammad Jalige, said two of the suspects were arrested.
In Makurdi, a student of the University of Agriculture, David Mmenga , who told The Nation he was lucky to have escaped the attack, explained that they were reading in the Engineering Department on Sunday night when they started hearing gunshots.
He added that before the heavily-armed gunmen got to the department on foot, some of the students managed to escape, but those who could not were forced into the bush.
The university and the police authorities confirmed the incident yesterday. While the police said they got a report that three students were abducted, the university’s spokesperson, Roseline Waku, was silent on the abduction.
The police spokesman in the state, Catherine Anene, said: “Information was received from the school authorities that on April 24, at about 10.20 p.m., some unknown men kidnapped three students who were studying.”
Anene, who also said effort to track the kidnappers had started, assured parents of the kidnapped students that “we are doing our best to ensure that they get their children back.’’
The Police in Oyo State also said they had begun search for abductors of the owner of Agbo Hotel, his wife, and seven of the hotel’s guests.
The kidnappers, who had stormed the hotel at about 10 pm on Saturday, pretending to be lodgers shot sporadically into the air before kidnapping the victims.
In Osun State, the Police Command said it had launched a manhunt for some gunmen, who kidnapped a passenger, Okunade Yinka, along the Ife/Ilesha Expressway.
The Nation gathered that the gunmen waylaid a commercial bus at Akire junction along the expressway around 7.40 pm on Saturday and abducted Yinka.
The police spokesperson, Yemisi Opalola, said: “An intensive manhunt is in place by our operatives and local vigilantes to rescue the victim.”
The FCT passenger, Laide Muhammad, was kidnapped in Pegi, Kuje Area Council, by gunmen who laid siege to a major road in the community.
Chairman, Pegi Community Development Association (PECDA), Isaac Aderibigbe, said the kidnappers have since contacted Muhammad’s family for N15 million ransom.
He added that the gunmen, who wore military attire, shot into the air and forcefully stopped cars conveying workers to their homes.
An eyewitness said he saw that the bandits blocked a part of the road with heaps of sand.
He added: “I was coming back home. As I got to where the tarred road terminated, I saw heaps of sand near the 1000 Unit Gate in Pegi.”
The FCT Police Public Relations Officer, Yusuf Mariam, said there was an exchange of gunfire between the police and the gunmen before they went away with Muhammad
She said: “The kidnap happened in Pegi, and we had a heavy exchange of gunfire with the hoodlums. They took three people earlier, but thankfully, we were able to rescue two of them and recover their vehicle.
“However, efforts are still on to rescue the other person who is still in their custody”.