Halima Falalu-Umar, the 10-year-old victim who escaped from bandits’ camp in Kaduna, has opened up on her ordeal in the hands of their captives.
We had reported that Halima escaped alongside her two siblings and 8 other hostages kidnapped by bandits.
The three children, all children of the Village Head of Dutsen Abba in Zaria Local Government of Kaduna, were abducted alongside four other residents of the village on June 9.
“We were not tied like the adults; they allowed us to mingle with their children before or after they return from cattle rearing. We were served white rice without stew, vegetable oil or any seasoning once a day and in some instances nothing at all,” she narrated to newsmen on Thursday August 12.
She said they ran away from their abductors in the night while it was raining and the person assigned to guard them was sleeping.
The minor added that shortly after leaving the camp together with some other abducted children, they met someone along the way who asked them where they were going in the night and they lied to him that some people freed them and left them stranded.
According to her, the man insisted to know if they ran away from any camp and the children maintained their position.
“The man took us to a different place where we spent the night. The next day, while it was still raining in the morning, we continued trekking towards the nearest village with the help of the man. While trekking in the rain, Bashir collapsed and had to be carried by one of us and we continued trekking with the help of the man until we saw a mobile network mast. The man stopped and told us to walk towards the direction of the mobile network mast and we will see people who will take us to the nearest village.’’
The young girl said while moving towards the mast as advised, they came across an over-flooded stream due to the rainfall which forced them to stay for some time till it subsided.
Halima said after crossing the stream and moving towards the mast, some good people guided them to Sabon Birni village.
The 10-year-old disclosed that the abductors lived with their families at the camp along with their children who go on cattle rearing daily.
She said they met other victims at the camp, mostly adults including a bride and her friends, a lactating mother and her baby and many others who were tied in different groups.
Their father, Alhaji Nura Jibrin, the Village Head of Dutsen Abba, said his three children were abducted alongside four other residents of the village on June 9.
The village head told newsmen in Zaria on Thursday that seven people were abducted from the village, but four were released on June 26, after the payment of N3 million as ransom.
Jibrin disclosed that in July, a few days to Eid-el-Kabir festival, the kidnappers demanded additional money and N500, 000 was paid to them, but they refused to release the children.
He added that on Aug. 6, the kidnappers demanded a new motorcycle or an additional N300, 000 to release the three children, but the request was not honoured.
“While waiting in anticipation, on Aug. 8, 59 days after the incident, I was informed that my children escaped from the kidnappers and they were at Sabon Birni in Igabi Local Government. The caller linked me to the children. Afterwards, we went to Sabon Birni and brought them home,’’ the village head said.