Officials in the Nigerian State of Katsina have traced 20 of its indigenes to Burkina Faso where they were allegedly sold into slavery by armed bandits.
It is believed that the victims were kidnapped in Kankara local government area of Katsina and sold to traffickers in Cotonou who in turn sold them to another slave merchant in Burkina Faso.
Katsina Governor Aminu Bello Masari led a team of government officials and security agencies to Burkina Faso’s dreaded Rugu forest, on a dialogue mission with a cross section of the bandits and kidnappers.
The officials traveled to negotiate their release by a swap deal which saw releases of both kidnap victims and arrested bandits.
Until the dialogue initiative, eight local government areas of Jibia, Batsari, Safana, Dan-Musa, Kankara, Faskari, Dandume and Sabuwa had become synonymous with banditry and kidnapping, along with the slaughter of residents in a number of communities.
Incidentally, the areas share boundaries with the Rugu forest, said to transverse through parts of the neighbouring Niger Republic, Katsina, Zamfara and Kaduna states.
Modern day slavery is still prevalent in parts of Burkina Faso which is located in the Sahel region of West Africa, with human merchandise exchanging hands through various middlemen in parts of northern Nigeria, Benin Republic, Republic of Niger and Chad.