Bandits suspected to be from the camp of notorious banditry kingpin, Ada Aleru, have abducted an officer of the Nigeria Customs Service, Mahassan Lawali, in Tsafe Local Government Area of Zamfara State
The bandits, numbering about 50, made their way into the local government headquarters, Tsafe, Friday morning and abducted the victim.
Mr Lawali, an accountant at the Kano – Jigawa Command of the Service, was abducted while spending the weekend with his family in Tsafe.
The victim’s younger brother, Salim Tsafe, told PREMIUM TIMES over the phone that the bandits surrounded the house during the operation.
“Three of them went into the main house and abducted him. A friend who lives there was tied down by the bandits and had all his phone taken away from him but when they brought Alhaji, they released my friend and went with Alhaji,” he said.
Another resident of Tsafe, Abubakar Bala, said it was obvious Mr Lawali was the target of the attack.
“They didn’t shoot anyone during the attack but some of them fired several shots in the air obviously to scare residents. He (Mr Lawali) was picked in his house around 9 p.m. It is surprising how they could beat the security check points and reach the main town a few minutes after nine; it shows no one is secured,” he said.
Mr Bala, who said he knows and interacts with the abducted victim “very well”, said the bandits have reached out for ransom.
“I was told by some family members this evening (Sunday) that the bandits are demanding N10 million as ransom for the officer,” he said.
Mr Salim said his immediate elder brother has been communicating with the bandits since Friday.
“When they took him, they called immediately to demand ransom. But they said once they mentioned the amount, no one should negotiate with them because they know he is rich. In fact, one of the bandits was saying they know Alhaji has over N100 million in his account.
“So, we pleaded with them to tell us the amount and they said N10 million. We pleaded with them but they insisted that we have a lot of money and that we should not be negotiating because they were being reasonable,” he said.
He, however, said when the person negotiating with the bandits said they could afford N5 million, the bandits were livid and insulted him over the phone.
“They have switched off their phones since morning when we told them we would pay N5 million. Some people said they (bandits) would call us back. For now, we have resorted to praying for God to help us and save him. We don’t have the N10 million they are mentioning.”
The police command spokesperson in the state, Mohammed Shehu, did not respond to calls and SMS sent to him on the abduction.
A WhatsApp message sent to him was also not answered despite the fact that it had been marked as “read.”