Bandits on Wednesday freed 11 of the 40 worshippers abducted on Sunday during service at Bege Baptist Church, Madala, Chikun Local Gvernment Area of Kaduna State.
The Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna, Rev. John Hayab, had on Sunday raised the alarm over the mass abduction.
Hayab said out of the 40 worshippers abducted, 15 managed to escape, leaving 25 in the captivity of the bandits.
On Tuesday, the CAN chairman told The PUNCH that the bandits had yet to contact the families of the abductees or made any demands.
However, on Wednesday, Hayab told AFP that 11 of the 25 abductees in captivity regained their freedom.
“The number of those kidnapped from the church has reduced 14 after the gunmen set free 11 out of the 25 they took away.
“They abandoned or released those they found difficult to manage due to health challenges, fatigue or age,” Hayab said.
Amond the freed 11 was a woman who was so exhausted that the abductors mistook her for dead and abandoned her in the bush along with her baby.
The woman regained consciousness, found her baby and returned home, Hayab said.
“To them, it is not the number of the hostages they take that matters because they know even if they take one person they will receive a ransom in exchange.”
He said they were waiting for the abductors to make their demands.
Kaduna police have confirmed the incident but are yet to provide details.
Meanwhile, State Directors of the Department of State Services in the North-West zone have expressed concern over the increasing insecurity in the zone and vowed to find lasting solutions to it.
This was just as the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, noted that insecurity in the North-West zone was disturbing but surmountable.
The governor, through the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, spoke at the quarterly meeting of the State Directors of the DSS in the North-west, which was held in Kaduna on Wednesday.
While declaring the event open, El-Rufai noted that the enormity and commonality of security challenges facing the zone made the meeting more important.
El-Rufai said, “The enormity and commonality of security challenges confronting the North-West give even more importance to the exchange of ideas and sharing of experiences between sister commands of the Department of State Services in this region.
“Many northern states – not least our states in the North-West – are confronting a unique set of security challenges. Criminal activities by bandits have threatened both rural and urban communities.
“Bandits have openly tried to crush the rural economy by attacking farmers in their fields, and in their homes. In many states, these criminals continue to be a menace on some highways.”
The Director, DSS, Kaduna State Command, Abdul Eneche, stressed the need for collaboration among all the major stakeholders so as to tackle security challenges in the zone.
According to him, the meeting was to review insecurity in the region, particularly kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, cattle rustling and other related crimes across the zone which comprises Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto and Zamfara states.
“We remain resolute to ensure that a permanent solution is achieved not only in the states but in the region.
“To prevent criminals moving from one location to another while fighting, the need for collaboration has become paramount,” he said.
However, in an interview with newsmen shortly after the opening ceremony of the conference, Mr. Eneche explained that, “So, to prevent criminals moving from one location to another while fighting, the need for collaboration became paramount.
“So, all the states collaborate and then they meet every quarter to do an assessment and review of all that had happened during the quarter and the essence is to find gaps, mistakes either that need to be improved upon and strategy of forging ahead in the next quarter.
“Honestly, as I mentioned in my speech, it’s not the job of a single security agency. Collaboration has so much worked for us in Kaduna State.
“So, all that we do here, we also send to the national headquarters in Abuja. So, all the zones bring their various reports into Abuja, it’s harnessed into one single report and it’s used to address security challenges in the country.
“We also give out the communique of this conference to all the state governors of the North-West. The essence is for them to also come together to review and see what we have done so far and what needs to be done and the area that to be improved upon and in the process, addressing the general insecurity in the North-West.”
Other stakeholders who spoke at the event included Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Musa Garba; the Chief Judge of Kaduna State, Justice Tukur Aliyu; and the Emir of Zazzau, Ambassador Ahmed Bamalli.
The Commissioner of Police said, “The security meeting is very apt. Insecurity has ravaged the seven states in the zone. And unless and until we cooperate we can never achieve our goals.”
The Chief Judge, on his part, promised that “the judiciary will continue to partner with security agencies to see that insecurity is tackled.”