The Zamfara State government has urged residents not to pay ransoms to secure the release of victims of kidnapping, arguing that doing so will only enable the abductors to carry out fresh attacks.
It made this statement on Wednesday in reaction to a report published by Punch Newspaper the previous day, which revealed that the family of a kidnapped Sharia Court Judge, Salihu Abdullahi, had appealed for financial assistance to pay for his release. The sum of N10 million had been demanded by the bandits.
“It has come to the notice of the state government that some media organisations have deliberately chosen to popularise the attempt to raise ransom sums for bandits than to promote the efforts being made to cleanse the state of the entire menace of armed banditry and other criminalities,” the government house said in a release signed by Zailani Bappa, Special Adviser on Public Enlightenment, Media and Communications.
It added, “The Punch Online today reported that some families of victims of banditry in the state are raising an appeal fund to pay bandits for the release of their family members, ostensibly to portray the inadequacies of government and security operatives in the fight against the bandits.
“The government wishes to draw the attention of the general public that the fight against banditry must be a collective affair and that payments of ransoms must not be a priority but rather, the support to the security operatives to rescue abducted citizens must be the priority.”
The state government explained that the payment of ransoms by the families of victims will “only encourage and empower the bandits to acquire more arms to further terrorise the people”.
It promised that those who have been kidnapped would be freed on the condition that adequate support is given to the security operatives.
“The government observes that in the last few weeks, the operation of the Air Force and the Army resulted in the wiping out of at least seven camps of bandits in the forests and the rescue of over 100 abductees after the killing of more than 100 bandits in the operations,” it said.
“It is therefore advised that all citizens, especially families of abductees, should give their total support to the government and security operatives efforts at finding a lasting solution to the security challenges facing the state.”
According to data from the Nigeria Security Tracker, there have been at least 54 victims of kidnapping in Zamfara in 2020, as of August 19. In June, 25 people were abducted by bandits in Bindin, a community in Maru Local Government Area of the state.
“They were going from one house to another picking people. They then drove the kidnapped persons into the forest asking their relatives to pay for ransom before they could be released,” one witness narrated.
“One of the kidnapped victims managed to escape and a woman was released because she is nursing a baby.”