The abducted passengers who regained their freedom from bandits on Sunday said that the men were beaten every day and they were threatened that if ransom was not paid, they would kill them in the bush.
They also disclosed that the bandits asked to be forgiven when they set them free.
Speaking to The Nation, one of the freed passengers, Hajiya Jumai Isa said that it was a very terrible experience as she had already given up hope of coming out alive.
“It was a terrible experience but we thank God that we are safe now. It was not easy. They have been threatening us, they beat the men- they really beat the hell out of the men. They told us they didn’t want anything from us but money. They said they want money, that we should give them money, that our people should bring money for them so that they will free us and that if not, they will kill us.”
On feeding, she said that they were served food on their hands as there was no plate to serve them food and that the water was very dirty but they had to drink it that way.
Jumai said that the bandits had sophisticated weapons that she only saw in movies, “Their weapons, I have never seen the type before in real life. They have rockets, guns, AK 47, and other weapons. The bandits were more than 1000 in that bush.”
She expressed appreciation to God and the government for bringing her back safely, “I feel happy being reunited with my family. I thank God I am still alive because I had lost hope, I didn’t think I will come back again.”
On his part, Mohammed Ndagi who was returning from his friend’s wedding in Rijau said that during the abduction, the bandits were shooting sporadically and a bullet swiped his head and he was bleeding but was made to still walk into the bush.
“One of the bullets swept my head. When I saw blood, I thought I wouldn’t survive. But even with the wound, they forced me to move with them into the bush. We walked for about 24 hours. We walked all through the night. They gave us simple food. We drank the water that cows drink.”
He said that all through their ordeal, they all slept on the bare floor and was not tied but had guns pointed at them at all times.
“We slept on the bare floor. They did not tie our hands or tie us at all. They kept guns to our head and beat us all the time. There is one among them that didn’t care if there is a man or a woman, he beats us. They beat us with stick. As they beat us, they kept saying, we need money or we will die here. They are all Fulani. When they want to speak to us, they speak Hausa and when they want to speak to themselves, they speak Fulani,” he added.
Continuing, he said that they were moved from one place to the other adding that on the day they were rescued, the bandits had to escort them to where the people who picked them so as to prevent them from being re-kidnapped.
“On the day they released us, they asked us to forgive them for what they did to us and we said we have forgiven them.
“They escorted us because they said if they leave us to go on our own; some of their partners may re-kidnap us. So they escorted us till where the people who came to collect us are.”
Hamza Buhari also described his experience as terrible saying that in his entire life, he had never trekked the way the bandits made him trek.
“My experience is very terrible and hectic that I don’t wish my enemy. They took us inside the bush. We walked for 24 hours. They moved us from one point to another. They convey the elderly with motorcycles. They beat us daily. They gave us rice on our hands. The experience was very bad,” he recounted.
53 Passengers of the Niger state Mass Transit who were kidnapped by bandits last week Sunday arrived in Government House at about 11.30 pm on Sunday.
They were received by the Niger state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello and other government officials.
Majority of the Abductees were seen to have difficulty in walking as they were said to have been made to walk in the bush barefooted during their abduction.
Some of them were held while others limped into the conference hall in the government house.
Niger state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello said that the released victims were malnourished and unwell adding that the medical team are on the ground to give them medical treatment.
He said that no ransom was paid adding that the government employee the use of dialogue to secure the release of the victims.
The Governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello said that the students of Government Science College Kagara abducted by bandits on Wednesday from their school are still in captivity adding that they would be released soonest.
“We still have the students of Kagara in the hands of the bandits and everything is being done to secure their release soonest,” the governor said.
Bello said that the state went through one week of negotiation and dialogue to ensure that the release of the passengers was secured within the shortest possible time.
He said that the state had made the necessary arrangement to ensure that they go through thorough medical services and rehabilitation.
The families of the released passengers were filled with joy over their return.
Speaking with The Nation, Alhaji Isah Abdukadir who had 19 members of his family expressed gratitude to God and the government for ensuring their release.
Abdukadir who was close to tears said that the past week has been traumatic for his family saying that he is grateful that they are back home even though they are not looking very healthy.
One of the family member who gave her name as Ameer said her mother, grandmother, uncle and sister were among those released.
Ameer expressed gratitude to God for their release while appreciating the government for ensuring that none of them was killed.