One hundred civilians, kidnapped in early June by armed men in the village of Manawa in northwestern Nigeria, have regained their freedom after 42 days of captivity, Zamfara state authorities said on Tuesday.
“On June 8, 2021, bandits invaded the village of Manawa and kidnapped 100 villagers including women, mostly young mothers, men and children,” according to the Zamfara state police statement.
“The victims, who had been held by their captors for about one and a half months were released without the payment of any ransom,” said this statement, which does not specify how the release took place.
Northwestern Nigeria has been the scene for several years of the activities of criminal gangs who attack, loot and kidnap villagers, stealing their livestock and burning their homes.
The army has recently deployed new military reinforcements, including combat aircraft, in the region to put an end to the violence of the “bandits,” who have also been converted in recent months into the mass kidnapping of schoolchildren or children from high schools for ransom.
The criminals are known to take shelter in the wooded areas of the Rugu Forest, which spans the states of Niger, Katsina, Kaduna and Zamfara.
Zamfara authorities are used to discussing amnesty agreements with the criminal groups with whom they have been negotiating for over a year in exchange for handing over their weapons.
It was the officials of the state of Zamfara who had also negotiated the release last December of 344 boys who had been kidnapped by bandits from their boarding school in the neighboring state of Katsina.
With each release, the authorities deny paying any ransom to the kidnappers. However, there is little doubt for security experts who fear that this will lead to an increase in kidnappings in regions plagued by extreme poverty and with little to no security.
President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general in power since 2015, faces growing criticism for his inability to provide security in Africa's most populous country, beset by unrest.