The Northern Nigeria Roads That Have Become Terror Traps
Many roads across the Northwest and North-central have become flash points where terrorists kidnap for ransom. HumAngle has collected reported incidents and has put together a visual analysis of the kidnap hotspots.
Just a few years ago, travellers worried about armed robbers. Today, the threat has escalated, especially in Northern Nigeria. The worry is about terrorists wielding some of the most dangerous weapons, who will waylay travellers and instead of taking money and goods, will march whole busses into captivity in the bush. Some of Nigeria’s busiest roads have become terror hotspots, across Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, and Niger states.
The deadliest roads in this northwestern state are the Abuja-Kaduna highway, Kaduna-Birnin Gwari expressway, and Kaduna to Kachia road.
There have been countless attacks on the Kaduna-Abuja highway. People were so wary they moved to taking the train, up to the point where terrorists successfully orchestrated an attack on it on March 28, this year, stopping the operation of the railway completely. Barely two months later, about 30 commuters were abducted between Kurmin Kare and Katari in Kachia Local Government Area (LGA). Katari is about 148 km from Kaduna city and 111km from Abuja, just short of midway between the two cities.
One reason why the road that connects Kaduna and Abuja is arguably the most well-known terrorist infested route is because of its link to Abuja, the country’s capital. But there is another that is probably more dangerous in the state, so much that commercial and private vehicles wait until they have police, military, or vigilante escorts – this is the Kaduna to Birnin Gwari expressway. The strip of road, from Buruku to Undawa, is called ‘The Red Zone’ by travellers. The “Red Zone” is surrounded by deserted communities. People have fled to avoid the armed groups.
Perhaps the most little known or least publicised abduction spot is the road passing through a small community called Kafari in Chikun LGA. Then there is also Kachia road, about 92 km away from Kaduna to the east of the city, in the Southern part of the state. Victims from here were once released on a path leading to Sabon Gaya, a settlement in Chikun alongside several others from Kakau Daji.
The Funtua Road that connects to Birnin Gwari is another risky road, reports have shown. In september this year, locals in the area have appealed to the authorities for security as terrorists continuously block the road to commit mayhem. From Funtua road to Kaduna is just about 4.8 km by road via Katsina Road.
On Aug. 20, 2022, terrorists kidnapped at least 27 commuters on the DakiTakwas-Zuru federal highway in Zamfara, northwestern Nigeria. HumAngle reported how the gang operated for about five hours without any interference from security forces.
The DakiTakwas-Zuru road, which is about 138 km away from Zamfara, is an access route to travellers coming from Sokoto, Gusau, Gummi, and Anka. Also, Zuru, Ribah, and Danko-Wasagu areas of Kebbi State.
Not long after, on Aug. 30, 2022 HumAngle reported the attack on the convoy of Zamfara’s Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs, Zainab Lawal Gummi along Kwanar Dogon-Karfe, on the Sokoto-Zamfara federal highway in Bukuru LGA.
The Nigerian police had, according to the Vanguard, in July 2021, reportedly neutralised terrorists who blocked the Gusau-Sokoto road at Dogon Karfe while they attempted to abduct 12 travellers.
One of this state’s most dangerous roads is the Katsina/Jibia highway. Here, terrorists in as recent as August this year, kidnapped several commuters at a point close to Kadobe village, Punch reported. The distance of this location from Katsina city is about 49.7 km.
Then there is the Gurbi-Zurmi road that links up to Jibia where a cameraman with the Information Unit of Jibia LGA was reported to have been killed in May 2021. Way back in 2019, a kidnap victim, Hassan Musa Shinfida, who was taken between Shinfida and Gurbin Baure in Jibia had described the route as more dangerous than Sambisa. Gurbin Baure is about 72.0 km away from Katsina.
In similar manner, when troops were responding to an emergency situation, Channels reported their ambush in September this year on the Kaura Nomoda-Shinkafi road where one soldier was killed and some injured.
All the roads mentioned so far link Katsina and Zamfara. The distance from Kaura Namoda to Katsina is about 145 km, while from the former to Zamfara is roughly 130.9 km by road.
In Nov. 2022 about 50 people were kidnapped along Sokoto-Gusau road, according to This Day. Gusau is approximately 184 km away from Sokoto, and 46 km to Zamfara.
Earlier in June, Channels reported the abduction of 50 wedding guests along the Sokoto-Zamfara highway. “They were returning to Gusau after attending a wedding of their colleague in Sokoto when the incident happened between Tureta-Bakura road. From Tureta-Bakura, it is 97.2 km by road to Sokoto.
The Lambata-Izom road in Gurara LGA is one of Niger State’s most dangerous routes. Here, two construction workers were abducted in Feb. 2022 after being beaten and tied, Buhari Umar, a commercial transport driver, told Punch. The terrorists operated for a while unchallenged. Driving from Minna, the state capital, it is about 206 km to Lambata-Izom.
There is also the Suleja-Minna road which is close to Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, in the North-central region. Again in February this year, terrorists blocked the route and forced motorists to make a U-turn, according to Sahara Reporters. A resident, Umar Adamu, said they operated around a village called Dajigbe.
Interactive Editor: Muhammed Akinyemi
Editing: Andrew Walker
Design: Khadija Gidado, Attahiru Jibrin
Voicing: Umar Yandaki, Nathaniel Bivan.
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This is a welcomed initiative, looking forward to seeing more of this.