Gun-wielding bandits Sunday stormed a weekly market in Goroyo local government of Sokoto state, killing 30 people, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has confirmed.
But another report from Goroyo, though unconfirmed, said about 60 people were killed by the bandits during the attack.
The tragic incident occurred barely 12 days after the gunmen in yet another attack hit Unguwar Lalle market in Sabon Birni local government area of the state, killing scores.
As a major step towards curbing the incessant attack by bandits, Sokoto, like some states in the North-west of Zamfara, Kaduna and Katisna, took drastic measures, which among others, include cutting off mobile telecommunications networks, stopping sale of animals in markets and sale of fuel in jerry cans.
The quartets of Isa, Sabo Birni, Goronyo and Raba are local government areas of the state are at the frontline of banditry.
A human rights activist in the state, Basharu Guyawa, said the bandits raided the market with a force of about 200 men.
“What we learnt is that over 150 to 200 of them (bandits) on motorcycles rode through the Gundumi forest to Goronyo town. They went straight into the market and started shooting sporadically. They were not selective in their shooting; they obviously came to kill,” Guyawa, the coordinator of Rundunar Adalci told Premium Times.
He, however, said nobody could ascertain the number of those killed in attack that locals said lasted for several hours.
“The attack was horrendous,” Guyawa said, in Hausa.
Bashir Adamu, a retired civil servant from Sabon Birni, said Sunday was a black day for the people of the area.
“It was a black Sunday for us. Over 30 people were killed while more than 20 were seriously wounded,” he said.
In yet another account, Blueprint gathered that the attackers came in hundreds with motorcycles, each carrying 3 bandits and stormed the market at about 5.00 pm shooting at the hapless traders
The police spokesperson in the state, Sanusi Abubakar, did not respond to calls and SMS sent to him on the attack by Premium Times.
Tambuwal confirms, wants more troops
Confirming the development, Governor Tambuwal called on the federal government to deploy more troops in the state.
The governor made the call Monday while receiving in audience the chief of army staff, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya at Government House Sokoto.
The governor said the state was worst hit by banditry following military operations in neighbouring Zamfara state.
Tambuwal said more security presence and collective strategies were needed to contain the rising security challenges bedevilling the state and the nation at large.
“Between last night, yesterday evening till this morning, we were greeted with a very dastardly attack in Goronyo local government, particularly Goronyo township, where scores and tens have lost their lives and still counting.
” We’re not sure of the figure, but about 30 persons died,” the governor told the COAS, also an indigene of the state.
The governor, however, called for synergy between the army and other security operatives in the state.
Tambuwal welcomed COAS Yahaya, describing the visit as a home coming, and his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari as well cherished by people of the state.
”You have come at a very trying moment for the army and the Nigerian nation. We are faced and bedevilled by many security challenges in our own area here, particularly banditry, kidnapping and other associated crimes.
” We shall continue to pray for your success, army and operatives in general to ensure success over criminals, ” Tambuwal said.
He pledged that his administration would continue to support the army and other security operatives toward overcoming the security challenges in the state.
Responding, Gen. Yahaya said the visit was part of his leadership effort at meeting men and officers on ground in order to have direct interactions and obtain relative operational information.
The COAS said courtesy visit was to pay homage to the Chief Security Officer of the state and other notables to solidify army relationships with the authorities and communities.
Visit to Sultan
The COAS had earlier paid courtesy call on Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar, whom he described as a pillar in the country and booster to security operations.
Responding, Sultan Saad assured the army boss of the traditional support and continued prayers for the army to overcome the nation’s security challenges.
But in another southwest state of Kaduna, security agencies killed 10 bandits in Kwanan Bataru, outside Fatika in Giwa local government area of the state. During the exercise, one hostage was rescued as the fleeing bandits left behind motorcycles and other items.
Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan announced this in a statement Monday.
He said: “10 armed bandits hibernating around some flash points in Kaduna state met their disastrous end. The joint security forces came in contact with the heavily armed bandits in Kwanan Bataru, on the outskirts of Fatika in Giwa local government area and subsequently engaged them. In the course of the gun duel, 10 of the bandits were eliminated while several others escaped with gunshot injuries.
“One Alhaji Abubakar Usman, who is likely to have been kidnapped in a neighbouring state and was being held by bandits in the area, was rescued by the troops, and is being debriefed at the moment.
“The bandits who managed to escape left behind several motorcycles, one revolver, mobile phones, torch lights and some charms. One of the sheds used by the bandits to hold hostages was burnt.
“The Governor of Kaduna state, Malam Nasir el-Rufai commended the security forces for taking out the notorious bandits. The Governor wishes the troops and personnel more success in the ongoing operations across the state.”
“The government is appealing to residents of Fatika general area to report to security agencies anyone found seeking medical attention for questionable injuries on these numbers: 09034000060 and 08170189999. All information received will be treated with the utmost confidentiality,” Aruwan said.
Police Div ablaze in Ebonyi
In a related development, unidentified gunmen Sunday invaded Ohaukwu Police Division at 135, Ezzamgbo, Ohaukwu local government area of Ebonyi state and set the station ablaze.
The gunmen were also said to have killed a police Sergeant and burnt vehicles at the station during the incident which occurred at about 12 midnight.
Confirming the incident, Police spokesperson, DSP Loveth Odah, said policemen on duty repelled the attack but regretted that a sergeant of the Nigerian Police was lost to the incident.
She said: “About 23hrs, a (sic) yet to be identified gunmen came to Ohaukwu Divisional Headquarters to attack the men and officers on duty and they were repelled. On the process, one police officer, a Sergeant paid the supreme price.
“They threw petrol bomb into the station and unfortunately, it got one of the patrol vehicles and exhibit vehicle parked at the place.
“The Commissioner of Police has visited the station for on the spot assessment of the area. He has met with the community leaders. This is the first time we are experiencing such a thing and the non state actors being the vigilantes and all those security outfits are of great assistance to the police. It is very surprise thing to us, we don’t expect any attack.”
Lai on bandits, insurgents, IPOB
Meanwhile, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed has described bandits as criminals who don’t have an ideology compared to groups such as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Boko Haram insurgents.
Lai said this Monday during an interview with TVC, ‘This Morning.’
The minister explained that the bandits are not known for either a religious or ideological motive.
According to him, armed bandits wreaking havoc across the North-Western part of the country are just simple criminals who believe in Nigeria’s unity and sovereignty.
“The difference between IPOB, Boko Haram on one side and bandits is that, while IPOB and Boko Haram are driven by ideology, a belief that they don’t want to be part of Nigeria, bandits have no flags.
“Bandits have no flag. Bandits are simple criminals. There’s no difference between bandits and other criminals other than their ferocity. Bandits have never said they don’t believe in Nigeria, they are just pure criminals.”