Those who were the targets of an attack in Benue State by unidentified gunmen have described their struggles to avoid capture.
Along the Makurdi-Naka route in the Gwer West Local Government Area of the state, the gunmen kidnapped a Benue Links vehicle.
According to reports, 18 passengers were kidnapped.
According to available data, the incident occurred as the van was transporting people from Otukpo to Makurdi.
A military roadblock on the Naka-Makurdi route was mentioned by three of the victims who managed to escape captivity.
Blessing Omashi, one of the victims, claimed she was heading to Makurdi, from where she would proceed to Abuja when the tragedy occurred.
It was her words:
We had just driven past the troops’ location and arrived at the kidnappers’ location when they abruptly stopped the car. We mistook them for military and didn’t realize they were armed thugs. They appeared to be in military garb and armed. As they led us into the jungle, where they were still keeping others hostage, they fired shots into the air. They were up to 15 in number.
As night fell, I made my getaway. That night, I spent time in the woods. To get to Abuja, I took the road from Otukpo to Makurdi. We were forced to walk for nearly 40 minutes between several arbitrary meeting places. Aside from their native tongue, they also communicated in English and Hausa. They lacked masks. Around midnight, I managed to slip out of the line and get away. They abused us.
Another victim, who begged anonymity, said: “Before today, many felt these kidnappings were propaganda when the former Governor Samuel Ortom used to shout. Indeed, I must declare him my hero. The goal of his efforts was to prevent this. I think the present government should continue from where it stopped. This state is not safe for anyone.
The guards heard gunfire but were unable to respond without first obtaining a signal. We require vigilant security personnel. I saw five of them, all armed to the teeth, firing their weapons erratically, but at no one in particular. A combination of Fulani and English was used as they said, “Move or I waste you.”
When asked to describe his ordeal, Raymond Mbabov said:
I was returning from the Chinese exhibition in Lagos. Normally, I would fly, but this time I had to take the road trip owing to financial constraints. The driver dropped us off at Taraku, where we transferred to the Benue Links bus. I have never driven on that road before, but I have heard that it is full of potholes and is in poor condition. The driver maintained that this isolated route was actually the quickest.
A group of people with torches approached us in Fulani, halting English, not long after we passed through the military barrier. They threatened to spray us if we didn’t get out of the car, and they were really forceful in breaking the windows. The people shouted at the driver to open the door.
I was the first person they were able to name. I had a power bank and two phones in my hands. We numbered 18, and we all filed in a single file. While they were transporting us, I made up my mind to run; if they shot me, at least my loved ones would be able to identify my body before I was buried. I was prepared to take the hit for it. I escaped in several different groups, each time via a different route.
They ignored us in favor of hunting for the survivors. When I got to the area where the Benue Links car was parked, I saw the military riding motorcycles and firing into the air. Later, I proceeded to the military outpost, where I gave an explanation and begged for help rescuing the others. However, the troops said they had received no communication.