Hundreds of villagers yesterday blocked the Kaduna-Abuja highway, protesting the killing of the Commander of Civilian JTF Haruna Halilu in their community by suspected kidnappers.
The villagers, who are from Sabuwar Gayan, a village along the highway in Chikun Local Government of Area of Kaduna State, blocked the road around 2.05pm, lamenting the failure of government to tackle the kidnappers.
Bearing Dane guns, sticks, machetes and other weapons, the villagers who were mostly women, children and youths said their village had been taken over by the kidnappers.
The situation caused heavy gridlock as both lanes of the road were blocked for two hours.
Umar Ibrahim, Commander, Kaduna State Sector Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna that the incident caused vehicular gridlock that spanned up to 17 kilometres on the highway.
Around 3.30pm, patrol vans of both soldiers and policemen numbering about 10 arrived the location but were not able to clear the road until 4.pm.
A member of the civilian JTF in the community, Yahaya Ahmed, said the kidnappers went to the farm of their commander, Haruna Halilu, and killed him.
“They went to his farm, killed him and ran away. His offence was that he has been mobilising youths against them. That’s all. Oga Haruna left behind two wives and 10 children,” he said.
A different source said Halilu was in his farm harvesting maize with three other people assisting him when six men on motorbikes arrived and killed him while his companions fled.
Ahmed who gave further insights to the activities of kidnappers in the locality, said more than half of the villagers had relocated because of the activities of the kidnappers.
“We know where they are, they kidnap our people at will and if you go against their order, they will kill you. Because of them, I have not been able to harvest my grains. If you are lucky, they will call you on phone and demand money. If you see to their request, good for you, otherwise they will come for you,” he said.
A youth leader said the kidnappers had recently become deadlier.
“Unlike before that if they kidnapped you, they would demand ransom and after payment, you would be released. It is a different thing entirely now. If they kidnapped you, they would demand ransom and anybody that takes it to them will also be kidnapped. This is why nobody wants to take ransom to them. If they kill their victim, they will still demand money before the person’s corpse would be released,” the youth leader said.
A commercial driver also said of the rampaging kidnappers, “We are all victims. Daily, they kidnap our colleagues and collect ransom. If you have a flat tyre, don’t stop. If you do, you are gone.”
Our correspondents report that the gridlock caused by the protesters was so complex that after the protesters were dispersed, the gridlock continued for many hours.
When contacted, the Kaduna State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Mukhtar Aliyu confirmed the incident. He said, “We got information that some protesting youths blocked the Kaduna-Abuja highway,” adding that the Assistant Commissioner of Operations was on ground to curtail the situation.