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A kidnap kingpin, Kachalla who took 62 women captive attack bridal train in Northern Nigeria


A kidnap kingpin, Kachalla who took 62 women captive attack bridal train in Northern Nigeria

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KADUNA—The kidnap kingpin that abducted a bride and 62 other women at 9 p.m. Feb. 2 in Katsina State has been identified as Kachalla “Boss’ Ruga, a notorious bandit, according to a gang expert speaking to TruthNigeria exclusively on background.

Ruga was once thought to have been killed through air strikes in 2022 but survived and attempted to arrange an amnesty with the Federal government. Having been rebuffed, Ruga’s gang hijacked a flatbed truck hauling a grand bridal party on the outskirts of Damari town as the honoree was being conveyed to her new matrimonial home in Dan Musa town, 23 miles away.

The entire southern corridor of Katsina State has been a war zone since the inauguration of President Bola Tinubu, who vowed to conquer terrorists during his presidential campaign.

The bridal party, including 70 Muslim women and nursing mothers, were hijacked about 170 miles south of Katsina town, Katsina state capital, which shares a border with Niger Republic.

Although different figures have been bandied about regarding the numbers of abducted, video released Feb. 8 by the outlaws shows them insisting that they were in custody of 63 hostages and threatening to marry off the bride and to sell the remaining hostages if their demands are not met.

Bride, others plead in trending video
In the video, hooded bandits speaking in Hausa language with Fulfulde accent are seen in police camouflage uniforms clutching AK 47 rifles and standing in front of the frightened hostages.

The video may have been shot in Yan Tumaki Forest in Dan Dume County of Katsina State, according to TruthNigeria sources. In the video, a masked bandit dares anyone to try coming to the rescue of their prisoners, while threatening severe consequences in obscene words. He warned that the bride will be married off and the other hostages sold away should a ransom of N100,000, 000 million naira (US$71,428 at the official conversion rate of N1,400 to US$1) not be paid immediately.

Possibly in a bid to humiliate the hostages, the bandits have dressed the bride herself in army camouflage and strapped a rifle around her neck. The truck driver of the bridal party is seen in a black trench coat wearing a gun strapped down his front. There are three other youngish women in hijab also festooned with assault rifles among scores of female hostages draped in hijabs under an open-air bush canopy.

The bride, the driver and others are heard pleading in unison to their family members to raise a ransom.

“We have not been maltreated. We have been well catered for,” the bride says.

“Government cannot raise the money that these men are asking for,” intones the driver, the only male hostage.

“Our family and friends must raise this money as soon as possible,” he is heard saying.

At the early part of the 150-second video, the hooded kidnapper said that they had in their custody 53 hostages but was hastily reminded by another voice that the hostages were 63. A small confusion ensued before he settled for the figure of 63.

The Chairman of Dandume county, Alhaji Bashir Musa, confirmed the story, but was unable to ascertain the number of hostages.

Disputed Number of Hostages
However, locals have differed with the number of hostages claimed by the kidnapper in the trending video 6 days after the crime, saying some had escaped before their arrival to the bandits’ camp. These witnesses said that about 45, including the bride and the driver, is the number still in the captivity of Ruga.

Nasir Babajo, a journalist and a resident of Dan Musa, confirmed to TruthNigeria about the crime and that Kachalla Ruga was behind it, but disputed the numbers of the hostages.

“I doubt if the number of women kidnapped by that man (Kachalla) is up to 60 as they claim,” he said, affirming the conclusion of others.

” From what we gathered, some of those women escaped as their vehicle slowed down before it stopped, since they were always on alert over the possibility of an attack,” he said.

“Some more also jumped into the bush when the vehicle finally stopped. I think those in captivity are between 40 to 45 women and children. They were originally about 70 from the onset of the journey,” he said.

Malama Larai Sani, a high-school teacher in Katsina who spoke to our correspondent, said that many of the bridal party had escaped.

“My niece was among those who jumped off and ran for her life before they were rounded up,” she said. “

Kachalla Ruga
Little is known about the pre-bandit career of Ruga, a Fulani herder turned serial murderer and kidnapper. But he became infamous as one of the most feared and loyal subordinates of Bello Turji, and he possibly served another bandit lynchpin known as “Dogo Gide.” The two kingpins reportedly are the top authorities over the huge ungoverned expanses of Nigeria’s Northwest since 2015. Gide hit the headlines in March 2018 when he was credited with the killing of a powerful former ally and bandit lord, Buhari Daji, in their same space of crime.

Ruga himself was once thought to have been killed by a Nigeria Air force bombardment early in January, 2022, along with another bandit commander, Alhaji Auta, in their bush hideout in Zamfara state. Later, Ruga emerged unscathed during other operations.

Ruga, 35, is Fulani and was born in Tsafe county in Katsina State, according to a source claiming to know him. He separated from Bello Turji’s gang, according to some acquaintances.

From this operation, Ruga now runs his fiefdom in Yan Tumaki Forest, a swath of uninhabited woodland spanning hundreds of square miles in Dan Dume county. His territory, according to sources, also straddles parts of forbidden bushes and woodlands of Sokoto and Zamfara states. Ruga is believed to be running a gang of 250 armed bandits, a reliable source informs TruthNigeria.

Ibrahim Rashid, a resident of Damari, told Truthnigeria that all the women kidnapped are of the Hausa tribe, and most of them are married.

“In my 68 years of existence, I have never seen this kind of evil,” he said, adding that, “where and how can the poor family of these women raise N100,000,000 (US$71,428)?”

Government mum over the incident
Government has yet to come out with a position on the fate of the hostages 10 days after they were kidnapped. This is even after 18 female kidnap victims were rescued by Nigeria troops on a grand-scale operation against bandits Feb. 7 at the same Dan Tumaki and Dan Ali Forest. It is not clear if part of Ruga’s men were part of the bandits that were attacked by the troops.

“The Nigerian Army and Air Force have the capability to track Ruga, not only through air surveillance, but also through commercial satellite imagery analysis, and phone intercept,” said M.A. Danner, a former CIA counterterrorism expert to TruthNigeria. “The military services have the manpower to rescue the hostages. What is clearly lacking is the will to action. However, under President Tinubu, there is reason to expect pressure on Nigeria’s ground and air forces to act decisively and achieve success.”