Security agencies are said to be closing in on the kidnappers of seven foreign construction workers in Jama’are Local Government Area of Bauchi State as information pieced together strongly suggests that the hostages are still being kept in the state. This has led to increased security presence in strategic parts of the state.
“The kidnappers are still inside Bauchi State and are yet to ferry their victims out. It is this discovery that has created a heightened security presence in the state”, a top security source said.
A group, Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladissudan, or Ansaru, for short, which translates as Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa, claimed responsibility for the kidnap.
Meanwhile, the security situation in the statehas led security agents to mount many check points around and in the state capital, a development that has led to traffic congestion.
The police have also commenced a 24-hour stop and search operation with a view to stopping the possible relocation of the victims with mobile policemen and soldiers stationed on major highways.
Many commuters, who were held up in traffic around Yelwa Road, Wunti, Central Bank Road, Awala Junction, Gombe Road and Wunti Dada Road, expressed frustrations concerning the development.
“I am just coming from Abuja, and from Jos to Bauchi Road, the security checks have been hellish for me. At each security checkpoint, I spent nothing less than an hour. In other instances, I spent nothing less than two hours. This is frustrating and, to make matters worse, the weather has been very hot,” a commuter complained.
However, the state Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Ladan, in his reaction to the situation said that the intensifying of security is to prevent the breakdown of law and order, and appealed to members of the public to cooperate with security agents by giving useful information that will lead to the arrest of criminals in the state.
The kidnapping of seven foreigners is the biggest of its kind since the insurgency of Islamic militants reared its head in the North. It occurred on the 16th of February in Jama’re town, about 200 kilometres north of Bauchi, sending signals to foreigners that the North is a dangerous place.
The expatriates were kidnapped at a Lebanese construction site in the night.
It was learnt that the company for which the foreigners worked was handling a road project that runs from Shuwarin in Jigawa State to Azare in Bauchi State. The Labanese company, Setraco International Holding Group, has its headquarters at the outskirts of Jama’re local government area of Bauchi where the kidnapping took place.
The Ansaru terrorist group had claimed responsibility in a statement they released onTwitter, which said:
“Based on the transgression and atrocities done to the religion of Allah SWT by the European countries in many places such as Afghanistan and Mali, by Allah’s grace, Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladissudan have the custody of seven persons, which include Lebanese and their European counterparts working with Setraco in Nigeria on the 8th of Rabiul Thani, 1434 equivalent of 7th February, 2013.
“It is stressed that any attempt or act contrary to our condition by the European nations or by the Nigerian government will lead to the happenings as it was in the previous attempt.” It was signed by one Abu Usamatal Ansary.
The “previous attempt” the group referred was the killing, in Sokoto State, of Franco Lamolinara, an Italian, and Christopher Mcmanus, a Briton, after 10months of abduction last year.
Security also heightened, yesterday, as been heightened throughout Bauchi metropolis and at the headquarters of Triacta Nigeria Limited, a construction company handling the Bauchi International Airport.
According to a staffer of the company, who pleaded anonymity, security agents had been deployed to the area to protect the expatriates handling the airport project and other workers of the company.
“Since the kidnap incident, there has been heavy security at Triacta because most of the people handling the project are foreigners; but it hasn’t stopped work at the airport. The foreigners are residing somewhere in the state metropolis; I cannot disclose the place for the sake of their security”, the staffer said.