Kidnappers on Kaduna/Abuja Highway.
A suspect, Mustapha Mohammed, 26, has revealed that the incessant kidnappings and killings along the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway and other routes in northern parts of Nigeria have stopped because he and his other partners in crime were afraid of contracting COVID-19.
The suspect disclosed that as soon as the COVID-19 was checked or eradicated, kidnapping and other heinous crimes will resume along the routes.
These routes have witnessed several kidnappings and killings. Aside from civilians being kidnapped and some killed, a staggering number of law enforcement officers had also been killed along these routes.
Mohammed and two of his cronies were arrested by Operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team in an operation led by the Unit’s head, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari. Mohammed said his arrest wouldn’t make any difference in the plans of the gang to immediately commence operation after COVID-19 has been checked.
His words: “We have stopped kidnapping for now because of the outbreak of COVID-19. We shall go back to our operation when COVID-19 is over. We have radios and we listen to news. We have food in our camps worth over N5 million. We used to come out from our camps to buy medicines and other items.
In fact, it was because I came out to buy some items that IRT Operatives arrested me. Our gang leader, Nasiru Kachalam, aka Yellow, is inside the forest with all our guns. When I came out to buy food for our gang members, I left my rifle in the care of a friend, who is also a member of our gang.
When we kidnap women, Nasiru, Bello, Musa and Idris will rape them. I don’t join them in raping our female victims because I have a charm given to me by my father. The charm forbids me having sex when I have it on me.”
The suspect explained that the gang some time ago stopped kidnapping on highways because of too much disturbances and interferences from law enforcement agents. He said that rather than quit operating on the highways, the gang decided to restrategise and change their modus operandi. Now, rather than focus majorly on kidnapping victims on highways, they target rich people’s homes and go there to abduct victims.
It was due to the change in the gang’s modus operandi that they stormed the house of Bolanle Ataga, wife of a Medical Doctor, Philip Ataga. They also attacked a seminary in Kaduna, where Michael Nnadi was abducted. Mohammed admitted that the gang aside from numerous kidnappings on highways had lost counts of the number of houses and villages it had attacked, abducting victims.
The gang after abducting 18-year-old Nnamdi killed him. The gang also killed Mrs. Ataga.
According to Mohammed, both victims were killed by Nasiru. He said Nasiru killed Ataga by inflicting machete cuts on her after she rebuffed his attempts to rape her.
Mohammed said: “Nasiru thought that the woman would cooperate, but when he tried to rape her, she bit him. He got angry, brought out a cutlass and slashed her on the head and stomach. She fell to the ground and started bleeding. She died at the spot. Nasiru ordered that the woman’s corpse be taken to a certain location and dumped there. He then called her husband to go and pick her corpse.”
The same Nasiru also shot Nnamdi to death because the seminarian preached to him, asking him to repent from his evil ways of kidnappings, killings and raping.
Mohammed recalled: “Our leader was angry with Nnamdi for preaching to him. He asked why such small rat should be preaching to him about God. Our leader had already released Nnamdi, but when the boy was getting close to the seminary, he brought out his rifle and shot him. He died at the spot.”
Nasiru killed both victims after collecting ransoms from their respective families. He collected N8 million from Ataga’s family and N10 million for the seminarian’s release.
Our reporter gathered that the cold-bloodedness of Nasiru has made IRT Operatives to place him on their Most Wanted Persons List. It is further gathered that the operatives are already closing in on him.
Mohammed’s gang specialises in kidnapping and terrorising on the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway and other routes in the northern parts of Nigeria. Investigations, however, showed that Mohammed’s gang was just one of several gangs causing havoc on major routes in the North.
Mohammed was arrested at Maraban-Jos, along Kaduna-Zaria Expressway. IRT Operatives later used him as bait to arrest two other members of the gang, while the hunt for other fleeing members of the gang continues.
Mohammed explained that before the gang members graduated to kidnapping, rape and murder, they were just farmers, who started out with cattle rustling. Mohammed, a widower with one child, said he assisted his father in rearing cows. When he started rearing cows for his dad, the old man had just 10 cows, but today, the family has over 50 cows. It is believed that Mohammed rustled most of the cows from unsuspecting victims.
Mohammed said: “I joined kidnapping three years ago. It was our gang leader Nasiru that introduced me to kidnapping. I met Nasiru while I was rearing cows. We became friends and went into cattle rustling. We rustled as many as 200 and 400 cows at a single operation. Nasiru was in charge of selling the cows. On my first cattle rustling operation, I was given N700,000, but on the second and third operation, Nasiru used the money we realised to buy AK47 rifles and ammunition. We have many cartons of live ammunition in our camp, with over 51 pieces of AK47 rifles. Nasiru sometimes sells our ammunition. There’s a guy that used to supply us the arms and ammunition. I don’t know his name, but Nasiru knows him well.”
Mohammed said as the gang continued with cattle rustling and buying of guns, their armoury swelled. They then decided that the guns would be more useful in kidnapping than cattle rustling. He and Nasiru organised and got more members into the gang.
He said: “Our first operation was at Rijana area, where we kidnapped four persons by first blocking the Abuja Kaduna Expressway. We were 15 men that went for that first operation. Nasiru, of course, led the operation. We all wore military camouflage uniforms and mounted five motorcycles. We then created three checkpoints. The first checkpoint was for us to monitor those driving expensive cars and alert our colleagues at other checkpoints to set a trap and launch an attack. In our first operation, we kidnapped two persons in a jeep and another two in a Golf car. We took the victims into Rigana Forest, where we held them in captive for 10 days before N6 million ransom was paid.”
According to Mohammed, he got N400,000 as his share in his first kidnap operation. Whenever victims were abducted, Nasiru and another gang member, Amedo, handled ransom negotiations.
“In my third operation, we used the same method of checkpoints and military uniforms to operate. We chose the vehicles that had rich people and ended up kidnapping five victims that day. We collected N10 million ransom from them and I got N500,000 as my share,” said Mohammed.
The suspect said part of the gang’s modus operandi was to contract commercial cyclists, who they pay to help them source for rich victims to kidnap. After ransom is paid, the cyclists would be given their own share of the money.
The gang was part of those that stormed Engravers College, Kakawu Daji area in Kaduna State, where they abducted six students and two teachers.
The gang collected N15 million before the eight victims were released. Mohammed said the gang also carried out three other major kidnapping operations along Abuja-Kaduna Expressway. One was the abduction of four Rigana villagers. The victims spent seven days in the kidnappers’ den and only got their freedom after family members coughed up N6 million.
The second major operation was at Gadam Mallam Maman, village along the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway, where the gang kidnapped three passengers and later smiled away with N4 million ransom. Mohammed disclosed that the gang made N10 million from the attack on Olam Farms, where they abducted some people.