Encounter with Fulani Kidnappers for Release Unijos Female Students
By Habila Tonga
At about 7 pm yesterday, I waited at the old airport junction to collect the ransom that they had demanded, and as if they were watching, as soon as it was delivered to me, the phone rang, ” ka yi tsauri ka je terminus ka karbi dubu dari daga wuri’n daya’n mutane’n, baya’n haka sai ka kira mu a wannan layi’n”.
I dashed to the Terminus area at the speed of light because time was of the essence. I parked the car by the Total filling station opposite first bank, adjacent Sterling bank, that’s around the Mr Biggs area. The people to give their own part called to know where I was. We met and after dragging for some time, the old man obliged, his thought was that he didn’t believe the deal will go smoothly.
The phone rang again and the same voice spoke rather harshly and threatening this time around, “ka karbo kudi’n?” I said e na karbo, then he said “maza ka taho ta Bauchi junction, za ka sami daya’n mata’n kuma zata baka dubu dari takwas sai ka hada da naka, ama tare da ita zamu gaya maku inda za ku tsame mu. A shirye muke, ida’n ku’n kira sojoji ko folice za ku ga ne cewa mu ba yara ba ne” and the phone went off.
At this time I was already getting worried, or rather agitated. I zoomed off again and in a jiffy, I was already at the Bauchi junction, and the time was 8:16pm. I waited for about 20mins without a trace of the said woman. The man called, ” a’she ku munafukai ne haka?, ida’n baku yi tsauri ba, na rantse maka da allah za mu ka’she su”. Ku yi hakuri, ku yi hakuri was what I kept saying. Then he said “nawa ne ka ke da shi yanzu?” I told him, then he said, “ka hawo keke ka ce su kawo ka hanya’n Sharna farm kafi’n gida’n mai’n Jagab. In ka itso wuri’n sai ka kira mu, za mu fadi maka abu’n yi”.
It was a bit tough getting keke as it was already 5mins to 9 o’clock pm. I eventually got there. If you are familiar with that axis, there is an open space to the right immediately after the STF checkpoint, with a tarred road into the field. I called and told him I was already there. He asked after the woman and I told him I had not seen or heard from her yet, then he hung up.
After about 5mins, the woman called and begged that I give her a little time as she was stranded at Bauchi junction trying to get the vehicle to come down. I waited for about 40mins constantly exchanging calls with the man. He angrily asked me to come into the open field and follow a path that leads to a stream, and that I should cross that stream and come up the mountain and that they were watching me every step and any wrong move will cost me dearly. I obliged and solitarily moved as instructed. It was a very lonely environment and there I was praying like never before as I made it to the foot of the mountain.
A flashlight signalled me to come up. I saw the first with an AK47, he asked me to hurry up, I did and definitely shaky not too sure what might follow. Then I saw another with a gun, then another, and another, and others with heavy clubs and machetes, then another with a gun a little bit further up the mountain. At this point, they asked me to sit down, I was quite exhausted as a result of the climb. Then hesaid to me “wato mata’n nan ta nuna mana cewa ita munafuka ce, toh za mu baka naka yara’n ama za mu tafi da nata. Mu ba ma su kisa bane, mun fito ne mu sami abinchi sabi da haka, ka da ka ga laifi’n mu”. Bamu kudi’n”. I hurriedly gave it to him, then he asked me to name my wards. I did and he brought them out, 3 of them without the woman’s daughter, then it was about 10:35 pm, the time my phone rang and it was the woman that called, I answered and she told me she was already around. They now asked me to leave the girls there and go down to collect what the woman had brought. I was obviously panting as I made my way down the mountain again. It was truly hell, but because we needed the girls alive, it was seamless for me.
About 8 vigilante guys who had noticed my movements came and surrounded me and were asking what I was doing all alone going up and down the mountain?.
I had to tell them what was going on, but pleaded that they kept it quite for the safety of the girls. They escorted me to where the woman was waiting. I collected her money and with pains in her heart, she started crying. I asked her if she would be able to come with me up the mountain, of course, she outrightly refused. I hurriedly went back up the mountain with the money. They accused me that I connived with the woman to waste their time, therefore, they do not trust me. I pleaded with them to be merciful. They asked me to sit down again, I did and after confirming the cash, they brought out all the 4 four girls and handed them over to me, but threatened that if anything goes wrong, they are watching and will open fire.
We hurriedly but carefully went down the mountain, it was around 11:17 pm.
I called my wife and the other parents who were waiting anxiously to come and pick us up by the main road.
This was the first and the most nastiest experience of my life having come this close to a gang of Fulani kidnappers.
Yes Fulani bandits who abducted my wife’s niece and 3 of her course mates, all 300level theatre arts students who were innocently reading in their room preparatory to their exams around the students’ hostel along Bauchi ring road after Oddus.
I just knew that the security of this great nation and state is indeed compromised and failed one, we need to keep praying more for intervention. But we indeed give God the glory for the safe return of all 4 girls and my safety.
For those good for nothing Fulani bandits, God will surely visit them in His own way. And for the girls and other abducted, God will give them the strength to come over this trauma, to stand strong and face the great future that lies ahead of them.
We got home after 12midnight.
By Habila Tonga