Some freed passengers abducted by bandits in Niger State have shared their ordeal while in captivity of theirs abductors.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, the freed passengers said they slept with over 2, 000 cows rustled by the bandits in the forest and also drank contaminated water.
The victims added that they were subjected to harassment, indignation, the threat to lives, and having to cohabit and trek for hours.
One of the freed passengers, Abdulkareem Abubakar, narrated his ordeal in the hands of the bandits.
“The Fulani bandits were having about 2,000 cows. As we were moving deeper into the forest, they continued to rustle other cows they came across. We were staying and sleeping with the cows. If I sleep here, cow will sleep next to me,” Abubakar said.
Abubakar said the bandits gave him the beating of his life because he told them he had no money when they demanded N10m ransom and later reduced it to N5m.
“The bandits at the scene of the attack collected all our money and phones; they carried the bag of rice in the bus. That was what they cooked for us and they gave us food once a day. At a point, they demanded for 10million or N5million from each person, we said we did not have the money. This angered them and they started beating us until they got in contact with one Sani, who was pleading with them not to kill us,” he further recalled.
Abubakar further said in the course of negotiation, the bandits told Sani to bring N50million ransom if he wanted us alive, adding that “they, however, agreed on a certain amount of money after Sani said he did not have N50million. They gave him two days to bring the money or they would kill us, but Sani pleaded for them to spare our lives.”
Also narrating her ordeal, Bunmi Oyerinde, a widow and caterer who lost her husband a year ago, said she was returning from Kontagora where she was hired to cook for an event before the unfortunate incident.
She said the victims were seriously starved and drank water from the same river used by the cows.
“On the first day, we slept under the mango tree separated from the men. The cold in the area is like ice block. None of us was able to sleep till daybreak. When the day broke, they heard sound of plane and they asked us to run, then they took us to another bush which they cleared for us to sit. They asked us to lie down and we were hungry. They went to the river which their cows also drink from to fetch water and they gave 10 of us to share one Ragolis bottle. After sharing the water, if anyone stood up, they would put the gun on the person’s head and threaten to kill him or her. We begged them to allow us call our relatives because they seized our phones,” she said.
Still narrating her experience, Oyerinde said she begged the bandits who showed no human sympathy to allow her contact with her children, but they refused until one Sani came to rescue them.
She said: “Our children were crying and hungry. Some among us have high blood pressure. We did not know from where they brought spaghetti, they cooked it without salt and oil. They ask us to go and pluck leaves from defecation area with which to spice our food. There was no water to drink after eating.
“We were kept with the animals and we moved everywhere with them till we were released.”
In yet another experience, Ibrahim Usman Jamade, a civil servant and teacher, said he was coming from Rijau on that fateful day from a friend’s wedding.
He said: “We went on barefoot into the forest, if you observed my walking; my legs are still in pains. They treated us so bad. There was harassment and lots of threats to our lives. When they abducted us, we trekked for distance and they allowed us to rest for one hour before they directed us to stand up and continue the journey deeper into the forest. When they realised the cows were slow, they asked us to go ahead of the cows. They asked us for money and that was why they kept threatening us that if we didn’t pay up, they were going to kill us or this and that.“