Up until some level of peace was achieved in Zamfara state in 2019, bandits killed 6,319 residents of the state at different times, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Usman Nagogo has said.
He said the statistics emerged from the report by the committee set up by the state government to establish causes and recommend lasting solutions to the menace in the state.
Nagogo spoke to journalists Wednesday in Gusau on consolidating gains of peace achieved in the state Zamfara state through dialogue in 2019 and the way forward in 2020.
“It is devastating that a total of 6319 innocent people lost their lives within seven years or so in a small state like Zamfara, and we shall not relent our tremendous effort to ensure the ongoing peace and reconciliation been initiated by the command in collaboration with the state government has been sustained,” Nagogo said.
The police boss said during the dialogue between the two warring groups-the bandits and outlawed Yansakai-the latter group surrendered over 500 locally fabricated weapons to the command.
On their part, Nagogo said the bandits also released over 500 captives kidnapped in various camps and surrendered over 80 riffles to the command.
On the way forward in the year 2020, the police commissioner identified four ways to be adopted for peace to thrive in the state.
He listed these to include; improving efficiency of the personnel, full implementation of community policing, enhancement of the command operational base and boosting of specialised operating units respectively.
He called on people of the state to exercise further patience, persevere and support the command and the state government in their efforts at ensuring peace return to the state.
“On our part, we will continue the path of peaceful resolution of conflict through engagement, persuasions and in some instance use of carrot and stick approach where the criminals in our midst proved to be recalcitrant,” the CP also said.
Meanwhile, bandits again struck in Munya local government of Niger state killing four persons, abducting the Chief Imam of Beni Central Mosque, Malam Umar Mohammed and 20 other members of the community.
The bandits were reported to have carried out the attack in the early hours of Wednesday barely four days after the hoodlums attacked some communities, killing an army captain and three soldiers at the weekend.
Blueprint learnt that the bandits, numbering over 50, moved from one community to another in the area, dispossessing the people of their property, including cattle,
It was also learnt that the bandits, however, met stiff resistance from residents of Kudami village, but had a field day in Beni where they looted shops and houses, and also kidnapped the Muslim cleric who was on his way to a naming ceremony.
District Head of Beni Alhaji Jafaru Umar Sarki confirmed the recent attacks to our correspondent in a telephone interview in Minna.
He said the invasion of the community by the gunmen was the second in three days.
“They came three days ago and stole over 200 cows from Fulani men, and this morning (Wednesday), they came again in their numbers. As I speak to you now, they are busy looting shops and moving from house to house and collecting people’s property.
“So far, four people have been killed, they shot another boy in the head and we don’t know if he will survive. They are so many in number, I can’t count them and they are all with guns,” he said.
The traditional ruler lamented that despite informing security agencies after the first attack, up till now nobody came to their rescue.
“What is the essence of security if the people’s lives and property are not safe? This community is under siege at the moment and we are helpless,” he said.
The district head said July last year, two of his daughters were kidnapped on the eve of their marriage but only regained their freedom after the payment of ransom.
Meanwhile, the state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello has told security agencies to adopt new strategies in the fight against insurgency and banditry across the country.
The governor’s advice is coming on the heels of constant attacks by bandits in parts of the state which has left four soldiers dead and almost 2,500 people displaced.
The governor, in a statement, signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mary Noel Berje in Minna Wednesday described the attack and loss of lives and property “as sad and unfortunate”
He said: “The bandits may have crossed the river from Kaduna and came to launch attack in Munya. The issue of insecurity is a collective battle which must not be left to the security agencies and government alone”.
He regretted that normalcy had earlier been restored to the affected areas until the recent attack by the bandits who were said to have laid ambush on the soldiers on routine patrol in the area.
He said government would ensure the needed support required by the security outfits would continue to be provided and sustained by the state government
“We will continue to explore all avenues to ensure that peace returns to these troublesome spots,” the governor said, stating that the fight against the insurgents and bandits needed to be coordinated.
Bello urged the communities to also watch out for informants of the bandits amongst them.
Bello commiserated with the Nigerian Army and the families of the deceased soldiers who lost their lives “in defence of their fatherland” and prayed for the repose of the souls of the “gallant officers.”
Gunmen hit Kaduna
In a related development, a woman and her 14-year-old son were abducted by unknown gunmen at their residence in Juji area of Sabon Tasha, Chikun local government area of Kaduna state.
The incident was said to have occurred in the early hours of Tuesday when the bandits stormed the community and started shooting sporadically.
The hoodlums were said to have abducted the woman after they broke into their home, with the boy protesting his mother’s abduction and offered to go with her.
A resident of the area, who spoke on condition of anonymity in a telephone interview, said the kidnappers scaled the fence into the residence of their victims, after which the gunmen ordered the family to open the door.
And when no one responded, they smashed one of the windows and used digger to break loose the burglaries.
He said the operation lasted about 35 minutes, adding that nobody could dare the criminals because of the weapons they were carrying.
“The kidnappers stormed Juji around after midnight and headed to the residence of their victims. When they got into the compound by scaling the fence, they started knocking at the door and ordered the victims to open the door.
“But when nobody responded, they smashed one of the windows in an attempt to enter the room. The burglaries on the window was too strong, so they used digger to break them to enter the room. They took the woman and as they were going with her, her eldest son who is 14-year-old, protested and insisted that he must follow his mother and they left with him.
“As I am speaking with you now, the kidnappers have not said anything and we are very worried since the incident took place over 24 hours ago,” said our sources.
Blueprint further gathered that t the incident was reported at the Sabon Tasha Divisional Police Station Tuesday morning and the police visited and took pictures of the scene.
“We are living in fear and we are calling on government to protect us. We are also trying to come together as a community to see how we can protect ourselves from these criminals But government needs to live up to its responsibility of protecting lives and property of citizens,” said another source.
Spokesman of the Kaduna state police command, Yakubu Sabo could not be reached on his mobile phone for comments on the incident.