By Laleye Dipo
No fewer than 23 passengers who left Minna Niger State and were heading for Katsina were Tuesday kidnapped by gunmen.
The travellers were in a Toyota coaster bus belonging to the Niger State Transport Authority (NSTA).
The circumstances surrounding the incident are still unclear but one eyewitness told THISDAY that they stopped along the road for some of the commuters to ease themselves unknown to them that some kidnappers were lurking around the area.
“The kidnapers came out from the bush and asked all of us to come down. They selected those they wanted and led us into the bush,” the eyewitness said.
Another account of the incident has it that the driver of the bus took a route not approved by the management of the transport authority for the journey.
“At a point, the driver complained about shortage of fuel and parked by the road. He later picked up a jerry can and went in search of fuel.
As soon as he left, gunmen appeared from the bush and kidnapped us,” an eyewitness said, adding that out of the 35 passengers, 12 who were mostly children were released, while the others were forced into the bush.
It was gathered that the gunmen collected the cell phones of the travellers and asked for a ransom of N40 million.
It was learnt that two of the passengers were released on Thursday after their families paid unspecified amount as ransom.
All efforts to get official confirmation from the General Manager of the NSTA, Alhaji Yakubu Salau, were futile as he refused to pick calls made to his cell phones.
The Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Wasiu Abiodun, said he could not comment because the incident happened “outside our jurisdiction”.
Sympathisers have however been visiting the families of some of the victims in Minna the state capital.