The ugly trend of banditry in the North-west and a part of North-central of Nigeria continued Thursday with the criminal elements killing innocent citizens and abducting others.
The affected states include Kaduna and Zamfara and Sokoto, all in the North-west, as well as Niger in the North-central
Although they killed a security officer, they however lost two of their gang members in an ensuing melee, even as luck ran out on them in Sokoto where the Police, in collaboration with the locals arrested some of the hoodlums.
In Kaduna state for instance, some gunmen Wednesday night killed a police inspector and kidnapped three persons, two of whom were suspected to be female students of Kaduna State University, (KASU) at Ungwa Waziri, Karji in Chikun local government area of Kaduna state.
An eyewitness who confirmed the name of the slain police officer as John Bello, said, “around 11pm on Wednesday, we received a distress call that gunmen came to our community, a message was passed across to us that we should put off our generators which we did, shortly after which we started hearing gunshots”.
A family member told Blueprint “Inspector John Bello came back and his wife served him food, immediately he received a phone call and told the wife that he was coming back to eat the food. He took his motorcycle only to be shot very close to his house by gunmen who were hiding under some mango trees not far from his house.”
According to the family source, the bandits proceeded to a compound housing some students of KASU and made away with two females and one male.
Police kill 2 bandits
But operatives of the state Police Command killed two bandits in Saminaka, Lere local government area of the state and recovered five AK47 rifles, one G3 rifle, seven magazines and a Gulf car.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Mohammed Jalige who stated this Thursday in an interview, said several other bandits escaped into the forest with gunshot wounds abandoning their operational weapons.
Jalige said: “On 17th March 2021, at about 10:45hrs, the combined team of FIB, STS, TIU and Operation Yaki of the Command while acting on credible intelligence, trailed some suspected armed bandits to Saminaka Town of Lere LGA whom from reliable source were planning to launch a deadly attack on law abiding citizens of the state.
“However, the bandits who were well armed, upon sensing the arrival of the operatives, immediately started shooting sporadically at different directions. This resulted in a fierce exchange of fire between them and the Police operatives of which the firepower and operational sagacity of the Police succeeded in neutralizing two bandits and wounding several others who escaped into the forest abandoning their operational weapons.
“The success of this operation is largely based on the courage and tactical precision displayed by our gallant officers which culminated in the recovery of the following: Five AK-47, one G-3 rifle, 17 AK-47 rifle magazines, 1,658 rounds of 7.62 x 39mm AK-47 live ammunitions and one Golf 3 vehicle.”
Speaking further, Jalige said the recorded triumph was without casualty of any kind on the part of the Police operatives.
“Furthermore, the body of the bandits have been recovered and deposited at Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital, Kaduna. Investigation has since been initiated while concerted effort is being intensified with the view to getting the injured and other fleeing bandits to face the full wrath of the law.
“The Command while calling on members of the communities within the said axis to be watchful and report any suspicious person(s) with injuries to the nearest Police formation, is still soliciting for more cooperation with the police on prompt intelligence sharing so that together we can secure our communities and the State in general,” added the police spokesman.
Kaduna parents, students protest
In a related development, parents and students of Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka Kaduna Thursday staged a peaceful protest over what they described as failure of government to rescue the 39 students of the college abducted by bandits last week Friday.
The protesters gathered at the school premises around 11:30am to appeal to the concerned authorities to rescue their colleagues and children.
According to the parents, since the incident occurred almost a week ago, they have not heard from the state government and the school authority about the effort being made to rescue the abductees.
The protesting students and parents displayed placards with various inscriptions such as ‘Free Afaka 39 students’, ‘End Kidnapping’, “FCFM students say no to kidnapping’, ‘Bring back our boys and girls’, among others as they walked on the new Mando road linking the College and Rigasa train station.
One of the parents, Mr. Sunday Musa said, they were tired of the waiting game, adding that, “we don’t know the condition of our children or what they are eating in the bush, so we are staging this protest for government to help rescue them.”
Also in Zamfara state, suspected bandits numbering over 100 stormed Yartashar Sahabi Market Square in Dansadau Emirate of Maru local government area of the state Thursday, and opened fire on traders, killing one, injuring several others and setting the market on fire.
In a telephone interview with Blueprint in Gusau, a resident of the village who pleaded anonymity, said the gunmen positioned themselves around the market square and shot sporadically into the air to dispersed traders busy doing their business on the village’s market day.
“As I am talking to you now, everybody is indoor for fear of the bandits’ attack. I cannot precisely tell you the exact number of people injured, but I saw only one body of the slain trader killed by the bandits, and they made away with food items worth millions of Naira during the attack before they later set the market on fire,” said the source.
But upon sighting some Mobile Police personnel attached to Operation PurpAdder, the bandits fled into the bush.
Meanwhile, efforts to reach the spokesman of the state police command SP Muhammad Shehu proved abortive as all his telephone lines were switched off as at the time of filing this report.
The bandits had Tuesday, invaded Kabasa village close to Dansadau area of the same local government, killing five villagers and three soldiers, including a Major attached to Exercise Sahel Sanity Operation in charge of Magami, Dankurmi and Dansadau areas.
Similarly, the Sokoto state Police Command Thursday paraded 14 suspected bandits for criminal offences ranging from kidnapping, armed robbery and handset theft among others
Parading the suspects, the state Commissioner of Police, Kamaludeen Kola Okunlola, said on 4 March 2021, two people Faruku Magaji and Mansur Sahabi both in Saketa village of Bodinga local government came to the police station and reported that unknown gunmen invaded their village, killed one person and kidnapped an elderly woman and an 18-year-old girl, and also carted away some properties
The CP said soon after getting the information, his men swung into action following which one Abubakar Altine was arrested with one AK47 rifle with magazines recovered from him, the victims rescued and reunited with their families
Okunola also said the duo of Bashiru Sani and Ibrahim Masama, both of Tambagarka village in Gwadabawa local government area of the state, came to Wurno police station and lodged a complaint that unknown bandits came to their village at about 3.am, invaded their house and kidnapped two girls- Hussaina Bairu and Farida Jamilu aged 20 and 18 respectively- to unknown destination
He said the villagers mobilised themselves and trailed the bandits into the bush where the victims were rescued and one Jabbi Alhaji was arrested
The CP said the suspect confessed to have conspired with one Diri of Dagyal village and one Umaru of Laka village to carry out the heinous act,adding that both Dagya and Umaru were at large, but assured the police would soon fish them out.
The police chief also said his men had March 11, received a complaint from Mohammed Sani of Gandabar Yamma of Tangaza local government area of the state that unknown bandits numbering about three, invaded his house, ransacked the room, beat him up and dispossessed him of the sum of five hundred thousand naira (500,000.00).
He said during the incident, the victim was able to identify one Abdullahi Mode of the same address, and that the suspect had since been arrested and that investigation was in progress.
Also, the command said on the 14th of February, one Yusuf Muhammed of Gidan Buwai village in Rabah local government area reported that a group of bandits in their numbers invaded the village.
In reprisal, the villagers and police officers attacked the bandits and killed three of them, and in the process recovered one AK47 rifle with four rounds of live ammunition.
He said two suspects namely; Umaru Mohammed Buda and Bello Ardo Bameri were arrested in connection to the crime.
Further to this, the police had March 13 at the Maulud gathering in Sokoto, smashed a syndicate of handset snatchers at Shehu Kangiwa square venue.
He said about 24 different handsets were recovered from them, adding that the handsets were snatched from unsuspecting members of the public that came for the celebration
He gave their names as Sadiq Ibrahim, Kabiru Muhammad, Usman Rabi’u, Sani Muhammad, Adamu Usman, Abdul Adam, Ibrahim Adamu and Auwalu Ibrahim all from Kano, Niger and Bauchi states.
He called on members of the public who lost their handset phone during Maulud celebration to come to the police headquarters with proof of ownership.
Okunola called on the good people of Sokoto state to assist the police by passing useful information for prompt action.
He reiterated the police determination to rid the state off criminal elements
Also in Niger state, gunmen upped their game and abducted a pastor of Anguwar Saye community, Yahana Bitrud near Yakila, in Rafi local government area of the state.
The attack came few days after the state government backed down on negotiation with bandits terrorising the state.
Rather, the state governor, Abubakar Sani-Bello, said he would arm the security volunteers in the state with Pump Action Guns to confront the hoodlums.
However, the gunmen were said to have parked their motorcycles at a distance and trekked to the victim’s house, and quietly took Bitrus away to an unknown destination.
The gunmen according to a source demanded N60 million ransom.
The source said: “Pastor Yohana Bitrus is about sixty years. Since the abduction of the Pastor, community members of Anguwar Saye and his followers are disturbed over the incident.
“Some of the members have commenced fasting and prayers, seeking God’s intervention on the matter.”