Lagos, Nigeria: In a shocking escalation of violence, armed gunmen on motorcycles abducted more than 100 people in villages across Nigeria’s northwest, particularly in Zamfara state.
According to residents, the assailants targeted communities that had failed to pay a “tax” imposed by the gunmen, revealing the alarming extent to which criminal groups are exerting control in the region.
The victims, predominantly women and young individuals, were kidnapped as part of the growing trend of extortion for ransom that has plagued northwestern Nigeria in recent years.
These criminal gangs, commonly referred to as bandits, have targeted villages, schools, and travelers, demanding hefty sums of money for the release of captives.
During the attack, which occurred on Friday, one resident lost their life, and witnesses identified the leader of the gunmen as “Damana.”
According to reports, Damana appears to hold significant influence over the region in the absence of effective state security forces.
A resident from the village of Mutunji, who managed to escape the abduction, recounted the harrowing experience, stating, “We are trying to collect the money… but suddenly the bandits came in and robbed people. They took more than 100 people – most of them were women and young people.”
Locals described the prevailing situation, indicating that the gunmen, including Damana, have taken control of the area.
Villagers lamented that these armed groups not only subject them to forced labor in the forest but also brazenly enter towns to consume goods without payment.
This incident underscores the dire security challenges facing Nigeria, which include a jihadist insurgency in the north, deadly clashes between herders and farmers, a separatist insurgency in the southeast, and militants in the Niger Delta demanding a greater share of oil profits.
President Bola Tinubu, who assumed office in May, is yet to outline a detailed strategy to address the escalating insecurity. Despite acknowledging the challenges during his election campaign, the president’s approach remains uncertain.
Tinubu’s past experience as the governor of north-eastern Borno state, known for its struggles against Islamist militant groups and the Boko Haram insurgency, is expected to shape his response to the multifaceted security crises.
As the nation grapples with this latest incident, concerns continue to mount over the effectiveness of measures to curb the activities of these criminal groups and restore security in the affected regions.
This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members