At least 50 travellers have been abducted in Sokoto State by armed bandits, a witness has said. An official of the Sokoto government confirmed the abductions but did jot state the number of victims.

The victims were travelling on Sokoto-Gusau road on Sunday when they were kidnapped.

The total number of people kidnapped during the Sunday morning operation has not been confirmed, but a witness said over 50 people were kidnapped.

Multiple sources also told PREMIUM TIMES that most of those abducted where boarding buses belonging to the State Transport Authority, simple known as SPORA.

Confirming the attack to journalists, Yahuza Chika, the general manager of the Sokoto Mass Transit, said only one of their buses was involved, while other vehicles involved did not belong to them.

He said two people from the bus escaped while the other passengers were taken by the bandits. He did not give the number of those kidnapped from his organisation’s bus.

However, a motorist from Talata Mafara going to Sokoto, Abubakar Umar, said more than 50 people were kidnapped during the operation that lasted more than 30 minutes.

He said, “I was driving when I started hearing gunshots. I had to stop immediately after Lambar Bakura and other motorists stopped too. When the road was cleared, we drove to the spot and they were many vehicles empty parked. I counted three empty SPORA vehicles.”

Another motorist, Isa Mustapha, said the attack occurred few minutes after he drove past the spot.

“From Tureta to Lambar Bakura, you can count more than ten security checkpoints that include police, immigration and soldiers, how then could bandits be terrorising same place every day?

“I left just a little after 11 in the morning and I started getting calls to confirm whether I’ve left the spot because bandits have started attacking people. It’s scary.”

Ahmad Madunaka, a school teacher in Sokoto, said “commuters in the first three vehicles were completely kidnapped and those included the SPORA vehicle.”

Kidnapping for ransom has become commonplace in Sokoto and many other states in Nigeria.

The attacks in Sokoto and other states in Northwest Nigeria are carried out by armed bandits whose aim is to terrorise residents and make money.

Apart from the kidnappings, the bandits also kill residents of communities at will. A group of bandits recently shot down an alpha jet the military was using to attack the bandits in neighbouring Zamfara State.

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