File photo: Armed herdsman
The last may not have been heard about the activities and exploits of the suspected Fulani herdsmen who have been terrorising travellers on Kaduna-Abuja expressway before they (herdsmen) were captured recently. Some of the arrested suspects include Adamu Mamman, Shehu Idris, Ali Robo, Amodu Awwalu, Babangida Abdulahi, Shaibu Ibrahim and Isha Musa.
At the police station where they were kept pending arraignment in court, Saturday Sun had the opportunity of talking to some of them. Robo, who hails from Kaduna admitted witnessing the execution of a police officer who attempted to overpower them.
“In one of the operations, we mistakenly kidnapped a police officer,” he recalled. “But it was when he tried to overpower us and snatch one of the guns that we knew that he could be a security man. Luckily he did not succeed, so we killed him and threw his body into the bush, far from our hideout.”
He tried to justify their action: “If we did not kill him, he would have killed us. We have kidnapped several policemen and soldiers and if they co-operate with us, they are released as soon as they paid any amount. The truth is that anyone that fails to co-operate with us would be killed and dumped in the bush.” Idris revealed that it is only policemen and soldiers that were in mufti that were mistakenly kidnapped.
Mamman 30, who hails from Angwa, Katsina State, and who claimed to have joined the gang in 2016 some years after his graduation from an Arabic school in 2013, appeared to be the most experienced of the suspects. In the interview, the man, one-time farmer and herdsman, claimed to have been introduced to armed robbery and kidnapping by one Hussein popularly known as Blacky.
“Hussein used to be my childhood friend, so when he called me to join him at Rijana, I did not hesitate,” he said. “We met one Umar who took us to the bush where we saw other men, about 25 of them. They brought out military uniforms and a lot of arms. At this point, I asked Hussein what this was all about and he explained to me that it was for kidnapping. On that day, three persons among us wore military uniform while three others were asked to follow them. I was one of those asked to follow. We all marched to Kaduna-Abuja expressway which is close to Rijana.”
According to him, they were able to pick many persons that night and who, they subsequently, took into the bush. “Our victims spent some days with us until the day they were able to pay some ransom which we shared to everybody. There was a time we mistakenly kidnapped a policeman but hurriedly released him after he paid us N300,000. I guess he was the one who brought police to the village to arrest us.”
On the source of their weapons and uniforms, Mamman claimed ignorance and said that it was the responsibility of the gang leader, Hussein. “I heard that he bought the uniform from one of the tailors who usually sew uniform for soldiers. He also bought the guns from one market.”
Speaking on their operation, Robo revealed that the gang is divided into four groups with each reporting to Hussein who is still at large. “Ever since I joined them, I know that we have about four groups and all of them are loyal to Hussein who is the overall gang leader,” he said. “They have more than 30 AK-47 rifles kept and watched over in the forest by some of us. It is the duty of those watching over them to give the guns out anytime we want to operate and to collect them back after each operation. Any amount made is shared equally.”
“I was introduced to kidnapping by one Bonge, a Fulani man,” he claimed as he tried to explain how it all started. “He told me that there is a new business booming in Rijana town that I should join him. When we got there, he asked me to follow one of his boys, Adamu, to buy cow for him. But I was surprised when, on getting there, I saw so many people tied up and kept on the ground. Since there were so many Fulani who are involved in kidnapping, I decided to join them. We have succeeded in kidnapping more than 20 persons since I joined the gang.”
“It is the responsibility of those wearing military uniform to do the kidnapping,” Idris explained. “They would mount roadblock at night to stop oncoming cars. Then they would flash their torch on occupants while pretending to be looking for Boko Haram members. They would check their cars and in the process assess the occupants to know whether they are rich or not. If they look rich, they would overpower them and bring them close to the bush where some of us are already waiting. But if they are poor people, they would allow them to go after checking their cars. Most of us would be in the bush collecting them batch by batch until we are done for the night. Some security men passing by would wave at us with the belief that we are real soldiers."
Another suspect, Amodu Awwalu, a mechanic with workshop close to Rijana expressway, Kaduna, told the police that he was the one who alerted the kidnappers to flee whenever there was a raid by security operatives. “Most of my loyal customers are kidnappers and I got to know about their illegal activities during discussions”, he claimed.“Gradually, I became their friend and errand boy. I became their informant and most of the time that military and police would come to raid the village, I would alert them and they would disappear. I was paid every time I gave the information to the kidnappers. I also know their camp because they have taken me there several times.”
Ibrahim, 35, also from Kaduna State, admitted belonging to the armed group that kidnapped five students of Nuhu Bamallu Polytechnic, Zaria and a policeman attached to force headquarters, Abuja. On the list of their victims also was the driver of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Abu Ibia.
According to him, the driver did not spend more than two days because the Senator paid millions of naira to secure his release. “Apart from kidnapping, we also steal cows. Recently about 10 of us attacked Gayan town and stole about 70 cows. We took the stolen cows to our camp in Sabuwa and shared them. I was able to get about seven.”
Their arrest followed the continuous raid by the Task Force deployed to that zone by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris. The Task Force headed by a Deputy Commissioner of Police is expected to remain in place in the zone till they curtail the activities of kidnappers and restore the confidence of travellers on that route.
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