Kebbi state used to be peaceful both for human habitation and investment until that peaceful atmosphere was truncated recently by bandits who now terrorise the residents especially around Zuru Emirate Cuncil. KABIRU DOGON DAJI writes on how kidnapping, armed banditry activities broke down the peace in the erstwhile peaceful state.
It is on record that for decades, Kebbi state has been in the frontline for peace even as it was rated as second in the country where relative peace was enjoyed until recent times when insecurity in the form of banditry and kidnapping began to rear its ugly heads in the shores of the state with killings and maiming of human beings becoming the order of the day. Barely a year now, hundreds of people were reportedly killed and kidnapped while thousands flee troubled areas in search of peaceful coexistence elsewhere.
Zuru Emirate under attack
The recent attack in the state is in Zuru Emirate located along the southern axis of the state and shares border with Zamfara, Katsina and Niger states. The people of Zuru (Lelna) are mostly Dakarkari alongside other minority tribes of Fakawa, Achifawa, Hausas and Fulani. The entire emirate comprises four local governments areas namely Zuru, Fakai, Sakaba and Danko/Wasagu whose the inhabitants since accestral times were known and still recognized as warriors who once fought many wars and won.
Generally, the emirate council always tops the list in any military and paramilitary recruitment exercises and has on records produced a considerable number of retired Generals in the Nigerian Army.
Ironnically in recent times, their peaceful co-existance has ceased to exist due to the spate of kidnapping and armed banditry in Sakaba and Danko/Wasagu local government areas that has seriously affected the economic development of the area to the extent that some farmers had to flee the troubled areas enroute to Sokoto state in search of refuge since their lives were no longer safe in Kebbi.
We are no longer safe – Concerned resident
Speaking to Blueprint in Zuru town last week, a spokeman of Dankolo community, one of the villages attacked by bandits in the middle of last week, Malam Danlami Isah Bena, narrated his ordeal saying, “We saw hell; we really saw hell. These heartless people were sporadically spreading live ammunations on our souls for a period of over five hours untill they made sure that no live remains in the downstream of my village entrance. In fact, they killed scores and as well roasted small children to ashes while they also used dry cell batteries on women’s private parts,” he said in tears.
According to him, so far villages attacked by the insurgents spread across the two local government areas. He gave their names as Unashi Dankolo, Mairairai, Ayu, Bena, Munhaye, Zodi, Ushe, Maluku, Kasuwa and Wasagu as among the defenceless communities. Similarly, he vividly recalled last week killing of a Divisional Police Officer (DPO) alongside nine mobile police men during an encounter with the bandits.
Bena said further that the number of insurgents that came out that day outnumbered the policemen who were on their way to the scene of attack to restore peace before they had an encounter with the bandits who were on motorcycles. Because of their numbers, he said they were able to overrun the policemen who unfortunately met untimely death.
He added, “We were more comfortable when the Civilian Joint Task Forces (JTF) were asked to take charged of security situation in their respective towns and villages before they were disbanded.”
He revealed further that the tactics used by the insurgents is that after every attack, they usually burn down food storage facilities or any shop that sells food items.
In a state of helplessness he said, “We are defenceless; our lives are really in danger. We are appealing to all concerned authorities to as a matter of urgency come to our rescue by sending more security agents to this troubled area before they finally eliminate us all.”
According to him, the action of bandits has seriously caused hunger and starvation in the area such that life is so unbearable especially with the lack of food and water for nourishment.
Police confirms death of own personnel
When contacted, the Kebbi State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) ASP Nafiu Abubakar confirmed the killings of the nine officers and men of the command, saying the situation in the area is however put under control.
Gov’t on top of situation
Governor Atiku Abubakar Bagudu who severally visited the area had directed the State Emergency Relief Agency (SEMA) to supply food and drugs to the victims while assuring them that his government would do everything possible to ensure peace finally returns to the area and the state in general.The governor who was quoted to have said that people should intensify prayers to seek for divine intervention as remedy to calm the ugly situation, also appealed to people to be vigilant at all times.
Appeal from concerned civil servant
A civil servant resident in Zuru who sought to be anonymous told Blueprint that he was of the views that the bandits were still around the area hence, there is the need by the security agents to comb the forest. According to him, They still leave around us, they didn’t go.”
He noted that if the situation persists, then the communities leaving around the areas would be left with no option than to vacates to a more peaceful environment where they can run their lives without hindrance.
According to him, “Since the insurgency began in the area, we have so far paid millions of naira as ransom to secure the released of those in captivity, hundreds were killed, we were denied going to our farms and even markets, so the situation has seriously taken a dimension that only we the inhabitants can tell our nasty stories.
“Again, we are appealing to state and federal governments to come to our aids as we are in danger with this bandit visits and the mass killings.”
Briefing jounalists on Wednesday April 28, 2021 the state commissioner for information and culture, Hajiya Rakkiya Tanko Ayuba said the Kebbi State Executive Council has delibrated on the security situation of the state especially the current happenings in Zuru Emirate and resolved to assists the families of slain security agents who died on active service.