In Zamfara state, Nigeria, armed individuals on motorcycles reportedly stormed several villages, resulting in the kidnapping of residents. Witnesses claim the kidnappings occurred after the villages failed to pay a “tax” demanded by the gunmen.
This incident is part of a growing trend of kidnapping for ransom in north-western Nigeria. These armed groups, locally known as bandits, frequently target villages, schools, and travelers, often demanding substantial ransoms. A village head reported to Reuters that one person was killed during the attack on Friday.
A resident from the village of Mutunji, who was abducted but later escaped, shared with the BBC that over 100 people, predominantly women and young people, were taken during the raid. He recounted that they were initially attempting to collect money to meet the bandits’ demands but were overpowered during the assault.
The gunmen are said to be under the leadership of an individual known as “Damana,” who allegedly controls much of the region due to the absence of state security forces. Villagers describe a situation where they are forced to work as agricultural laborers in the forest, while the bandits exploit the town’s resources without payment.
Nigeria faces multiple security challenges, including a jihadist insurgency in the north, clashes between herders and farmers, separatist movements in the southeast, and militants in the Niger Delta region. These militants are advocating for a larger share of oil profits.
The newly elected President Bola Tinubu, who assumed office in May, has not yet outlined a specific strategy to address these escalating security issues. During his campaign, Tinubu’s office highlighted his experience as governor of Borno state, which has been a hotspot for Islamist militant activity, including the Boko Haram insurgency. The country and its leaders are under increasing pressure to find effective solutions to the diverse and complex security challenges.