Bandits run riot in Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara



 Residents in parts of Niger, Kaduna and Zamfara states experienced some level of tragedy occasioned by bandits who went haywire killing, injuring and kidnapping innocent citizens.

In the wake of the attacks carried out at different times across the three states, both the young and the aged fell victims of the dastardly act.

The attacks came barely one week after Niger state Governor Abubakar Sani Bello told President Muhammadu Buhari bandits had overwhelmed the state, and therefore called for the federal government’s intervention.

But it was victory song for the troops in Borno state in the North-east, wherein an aerial raid, troops not only hit the gun-trucks of the insurgents, but also killed several of them during the operation, aided by ground troops.

Niger

Reports from Niger state said a Catholic Priest of the Diocese of Minna Father John Gbakaan Yaji was kidnapped and killed by bandits.

Also in separate operations across the state, Blueprint gathered that the hoodlums abducted 37 persons within the last four days.

 The kidnap and subsequent killing of Father Yaji was said to have occurred Friday night in Tufa village along Lambata-Lapai road in the state.

 The slain cleric was said to be returning from Lambata where he had attended a religious meeting along with his colleagues, but was kidnapped and killed on his way back to the station.

 It was gathered that late Yaji was kidnapped alongside his younger brother whose whereabouts was still unknown as at the time of this report.

 Efforts to get the state’s spokesman of the Police Command, ASP Wasiu Abiodun for confirmation proved abortive, but a source within the Diocese who wanted anonymity confirmed the story.

CAN reacts

In a reaction, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Niger state described the abduction and killing as unfortunate and painful.

Confirming the incident in Minna, the state chairman of the association, Rev Mathias Echioda said: “These attacks are unfortunate and we should not tag them as religious but we should all come together to put an end to banditry. And I know God who answers prayers will deliver us from the hands of the wicked.”

Also in separate attacks in other parts of the state, the bandits reportedly abducted 20 people, said to be on their way to Madaka market last Thursday in Duguru, Madaka ward of Rafi local government area.

In the same vein, 17 people were kidnapped by bandits in three communities of Bassa/Kukoki ward of Shiroro local government area of the state.  

 They were reportedly kidnapped on Saturday night in Madagwa, Wongo and Marenje communities.

 Co-convener Concerned Shiroro Youths, Sani Abubakar Yusuf Kokki, confirmed the abduction Sunday, saying the whereabouts of the victims were not yet known.

 He described the abductions as disheartening and unfortunate, noting that “it is unfair that the locals have been left to their fate.”

Kokki lamented that kidnapping and other related criminal activities had become the order of the day in the entire Rafi and Shiroro local governments areas of  the state.

 Kaduna

 Also in Kaduna state, the bandits weekend killed an 80-year-old woman, a ward head and three other persons in separate attacks on two villages of Chikun and travellers in Giwa local government area of the state.

 Three others persons were confirmed to have been injured in an attack on the travellers in Giwa local government area.

Kaduna state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan confirmed the incidents Sunday.

He said Governor Nasir el-Rufa’i implored security agencies to ensure diligent investigations into the disturbing incidents. 

 “Security agencies have reported the killing of an aged woman in Sharu village, Igabi local government area. According to the report, armed bandits invaded the village and raided several homes. As they shot sporadically, Hauwa Umaru, 80, was hit by a bullet and died instantly. 

“In another incident, unknown gunmen killed one Samaila Yohanna, the Ward Head of Konti, in Chikun local government area. Also in Chikun local government area, bandits killed two locals, Alhaji Sani and Malam Rabiu, at Dande.

 “In Giwa local government area, armed bandits barricaded the road between Fatika and Kidandan and opened fire on commuters plying the road.  One unidentified woman was killed and three other persons were injured in the attack. 

 “Governor Nasir el-Rufai noted the reports with sadness, and conveyed condolences to the families of the deceased, praying for the repose of their souls. He also prayed for speedy recovery for the injured. 

“The Governor also implored security agencies to ensure diligent investigations into the disturbing incidents,” Aruwan said.

Zamfara fresh attack

Meanwhile, no fewer than 10 people were killed by a group of suspected bandits at Janbako village of Maradun local government area of  Zamfara state, where the governor hails from.

 A resident of the village identified as Malam Ibrahim Janbako told Blueprint  via the telephone Sunday that the gunmen, numbering over 100 and riding on more than 50 motorcycles, besieged the village at around 10:25 am  Sunday, with sophisticated  weapons and shooting sporadically into the air.

He said during an exchange of gunfire, the vigilantes killed five of the bandits whose bodies were taken into the forests by the group.

 “As I am talking to you now, we have buried six people and preparing for the burial of the remaining four killed by the bandits. We sent vigilantes to guard our cemetery to guard against being ambushed during the burial rites, “Janbako stated.

 He said upon sighting the bandits, the villagers were in disarray, during which ten people were killed by the marauders, while others sustained gunshots of varied degrees.

 “As soon as we heard sounds of gunshots, our people ran into the bush, including our women and children. But unfortunately, we lost ten innocent people,” the eyewitness further said.

He commended the security personnel, particularly the military and police for their quick response following a distress call.

The villagers called on both the state and federal governments to deploy additional security personnel to the area to stem the ugly tide.

 Efforts to get in touch with the state police public relations officer, SP Muhammad Shehu, proved abortive as all his telephone numbers were switched off  as at the time of this report.

CP urges dialogue

But the state police commissioner, Abutu Yaro, had, while addressing journalists Saturday in Gusau, said the command, in collaboration with Zamfara state government, would  continue to dialogue with the bandits , especially those willing to surrender their weapons for peace to thrive in the state.

 To this end, the CP announced a seven-man police peace and implementation committee for peace and tranquility in the state.

 He stated this while speaking on the achievements recorded by the command since the New Year began.

The committee was headed by the Chief Imam of the state police command, SP Alhassan Suleiman, assisted by the  O/C SIB CSP Rufa’i Ahmad Nuhu and four other police officers of Fulani extraction.

 “One of the terms of references of the committee is to interact and dialogue with all warring parties, especially Fulani bandits operating in different camps and locations in the state and to facilitate the surrendering of arms and ammunition by repentant bandits.

“Providing religious interface such as Tafsir and Islamic re- orientation to the Fulani nationalities in the forests and pastoralists’ camps and ensure accessing peace through Islamic appeasement,” the CP said.

 On the achievements recorded by the command, he said: “On the 24th December, 2020, our peace building initiative led to the unconditional surrendering of three AK-47 rifles and forty seven rounds of live ammunition to the Government Committee on disarmament that comprises the Police, Military, DSS and the Ministry for Security and Home Affairs Zamfara State.”

“On 9th January, 2021, Police tactical unit attached to Operation Puff Adder in Kanoma District of Maru LGA acted on intelligence report and recovered an AK-47 rifle with four hundred and forty four rounds of live ammunition abandoned under a tree by a suspected bandit and escaped into the forest. 

 “Sequel to the abduction of three people at Gidan Barga village and other three people at Dangajeru village in Keta District of Tsafe LGA, on 13th December, 2020 and 1st January, 2021 respectively,” the police also said. 

 He said the Divisional Police Officer of Tsafe local government, in collaboration with Tsafe peace initiative committee and some leaders of the repentant bandits, facilitated the unconditional release of all the abducted victims hale and hearty, saying they were properly debriefed and reunited with their families.

Abutu commended officers and men of the men of the command in their fight against criminality in the state, the efforts by the officers and men of the command in combating criminality in the state.

He urged members of the public to continue giving necessary information to the command about any strange movement by any the group of people for prompt action.

Ekiti on drones, Amotekun

Meanwhile,  Ekiti state government has said addressing the growing security challenge in the state will be a major priority in 2021.

To this end, it voted N1.4 billion for the State Security Network, codenamed Amotekun Corps, in its 2021 budget.

Commissioner for Budget Femi Ajayi made this known Sunday at a press conference in Ado Ekiti where he gave the detailed analysis of the N109.666 budget passed by the state legislative and assented to by Governor Kayode Fayemi recently.

Fayemi had December 23, 2020, signed the appropriation bill tagged “Budget of Recovery and Economic Restoration.”

The approved budget comprised N58. 4 billion for recurrent, and N51.6 billion for capital expenditures.

Presenting the details, Mr Ajayi said the priority to security was in a bid to further attract investment and ensure safety of all investors and residents.

He said: “Following the incessant security challenges which include kidnapping, herders/farmers clashes, robberies in the country, to ensure the security of lives and properties, Governor Kayode Fayemi inaugurated the Ekiti State Security Trust Fund coined ‘Amotekun’ in collaboration with other South-Western States on 19th October, 2020.

A sum of N1.44 billion has been earmarked as capital allocation for Amotekun Corps.

“For procurement of drones for surveillance, a sum of N550 million has been earmarked while a total of N320 million will be spent on safety city project and the Ekiti State Security Trust Fund will gulp a sum of N55 million,” the commissioner said.

Other areas

Ajayi further  said bedside the government’s attention on security, a total of N8 billion was earmarked to critical areas of social services, to include the education sector, health, gender empowerment, social security and other pivotal sub-sectors critical to the growth of the state’s economy.

On  how the budget is to be funded, the commissioner said  a total of N29.6 billion was expected from the federation account, N8.4 billion from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), including taxes and other fees, while N4.5 billion would be generated from tertiary institutions and  other sundry sources.

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