Revealed! How Troops crushed fleeing Zamfara, Katsina bandits in Niger




Scores of armed bandits fleeing the ongoing military operation in Zamfara and Katsina states weekend  met their waterloo in the hands of soldiers at Maganda village, near Allawa in Shiroro local government area of Niger state.

The bandits were said to be escaping through the notorious Allawa forest in their hundreds before they were caught up at the military camp stationed at Alawa, and engaged the soldiers in a gun battle for several hours.

At the end of the gun battle, one soldier was said to be missing while scores of the bandits were neutralised with several others escaping into the forest with bullet injuries.

It was learnt that those who escaped with serious bullet wounds were still being trailed by the soldiers as the entire forest was being combed in search of the criminals. 

Blueprint gathered that six machine guns and a number of AK 47 riffles and bags of ammunition were recovered from the bandits.

A resident of Allawa community, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity said, “Most of the bandits killed all looked like foreigners as they have no resemblance of Nigerians.”

He said:  “In fact, from the dead bodies that we saw, they are not Nigerians, these are foreigners, all of them are carrying long hairs like women.

“They don’t have resemblance of Nigerians and they don’t know the terrain. This was why they ran into the soldiers because they did not know that there is military camp there.”

He disclosed that though one soldier was killed by the bandits, the soldiers recorded a huge success by killing several of them.

“As I speak with you, the bodies of the bandits killed are still littered in the bush. This is one of the major breakthroughs recorded by the military in its war against armed bandits in the state in recent time,” the source said. 

It was learnt that the same military camp was April this year attacked by bandits during which it was razed, and later reactivated by the military authorities.

Zango Kataf

And from Kaduna state, a pastor of ECWA Church Kibori-Asha Awuce in Zangon Kataf local government area of the state, Rev. Silas Yakubu Ali, was reportedly murdered by unknown assailants between Saturday and Sunday. 

His corpse was said to have been discovered Sunday by a search party at Kibori after he left home Saturday.

A statement by the Kaduna state government Sunday said Governor Nasir el-Rufai condoled with the family of the slain cleric and ECWA Church over the gruesome murder. 

In the statement, Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan said the governor also urged security agencies to apprehend the perpetrators of the act to book, while appealing for calm among residents.

“Security agencies have reported to the Kaduna state government the killing of Reverend Silas Yakubu Ali, Pastor of ECWA Church, Kibori-Asha Awuce, in Zangon Kataf LGA, by unknown assailants. 

“The report stated that Reverend Ali departed for Kafanchan on Saturday, and was not heard until his corpse was found by a search party early on Sunday at Kibori community, near Asha-Awuce, where he was apparently attacked and macheted to death.

“The Governor of Kaduna state, Malam Nasir el-Rufai expressed deep sadness at the report of the killing, which he described as horrifying and cruel. The Governor offered prayers for the repose of the soul of the cleric. 

“Going further, Governor el-Rufai sent his condolences to the family of Reverend Silas Yakubu Ali, and to the ECWA Church in Kibori-Asha Awuce, as he prayed for God to grant them fortitude and comfort over this sudden and painful loss. 

“The Governor urged security agencies to intensify efforts towards apprehending the perpetrators of the heinous killing, while appealing to members of the community to maintain calm. Security agencies are conducting investigations in the general area,” Aruwan said. 

School resumption

And ahead of school resumption in Kaduna, Monday, the state government has directed administrators and proprietors of public and private conventional and Islamiyya schools to establish security committee to ensure safety of students.  

Commissioner for Education, Dr Shehu Usman Mohammed, gave the directive in a statement issued Sunday in Kaduna.

He urged the schools, including learning centres such as Islamiya and Madrasas to set up school-based security committees for the safeguarding and protection of the students and pupils. 

The state government tasked the school managements to inculcate safe school learning initiatives as directed by the Federal Ministry of Education, adding that members of the school security committee are to ensure proper monitoring of security apparatuses in place and prompt security alertness.

“The Ministry appreciated the support of all stakeholders in the education sector, security agencies, parents and guardians and the media, and calls on them not to relent in ensuring a safer learning environment for all learners at all levels in the state.

“The Ministry also expresses its profound to the general public for their resilience, understanding and continuous support during this trying period.

“Whilst 1st phase of the resumption is already in school writing exams, the Ministry of Education is directing all principals to make arrangements to receive JSS1, JSS2, SS1 and SS2 boarding students on Sunday, September 12th, 2021 and day students on Monday September 13th, 2021 for a period of 14 weeks for the term.

“Primary 1-6 are to resume on September 27th, 2021 for a period of 12 weeks for the term,” he said

Benue border attack 

In a related development, gunmen suspected to be bandits attacked a border community between Benue and Taraba states, killing one person and abducting many.

The gunmen, it was gathered, stormed the community and forced residents to flee to Koffai Ahmadu in Takum local government area for safety.

Confirming the incident, the council chairman, Mr Shoban Tikari, said security had been beefed up in the neighbouring communities to avert further breakdown of law and order.

“One person was killed in the attack and I recovered the corpse and many others were also said to have been kidnapped. Where the bandits invaded, residents there all ran to Koffai Ahmadu for safety, but they were people from Benue state.

“People were also alleging that houses were burnt, but I can also confirm to you that no house was set ablaze as I went to the scene.

“Actually, what really happened is that people are referring to Koffai Ahmadu as the centre for the hostilities, but precisely where it took place was at the border between Taraba and Benue states.

“We have put security in place to restore normalcy in the border communities, especially the operation whirl stroke (whose members) are now camping close to the affected community to avert any further breakdown of law and order,” he added.

On efforts made to identify the culprits, the council boss added that no arrest had been made by security agencies so far.

The incident was yet to be confirmed by the state Police command as at the time of this report.

 Abuja

Meanwhile, a group of kidnappers is demanding N50 million ransom as precondition for releasing the three persons abducted eight days ago in Pegi Resettlement Area, Kuje in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja. 

The kidnappers had stormed the hilltop area of Zone A of the quiet community, scaled the fence, breached the security lock of the home of Pastor Gabriel Oladapo and kidnapped his wife and two teenage daughters.

But eight days after, the abductors contacted a distressed Pastor Oladapo, demanding a N50 million ransom and gave a payment deadline.

They threatened to be hard on one of the victims if the deadline was not met and also deal with the cleric.

Those in the kidnappers’ den are 45-year-old Mrs Bukola Oladapo, 17-year-old Glory Oladapo and 14-year-old Moyo Oladapo.

 Glory, the senior daughter and student of Government Secondary School, Pegi, Abuja, was to write her Senior Secondary School Certificate examinations before her kidnap.

 So far, Glory has missed three papers including the English language examination which holds today (Monday).

Though, for obvious reasons, Pastor Oladapo could not be reached for his reaction, the chairman of Pegi Community Development Association (PCDA), Mr Taiwo Addribigbe, lamented incessant incidences of kidnapping in the Resettlement Area, stressing that efforts of security agencies were  inadequate to arrest the menace.

“The residents of this community are poor Nigerians, who, for lack of means to secure decent accommodation elsewhere, came here to sort out their lives, but are living in perpetual fear because of kidnappers.

“It is quite worrisome that Pegi Community is being targeted for repeated incidences of kidnapping. Ever more worrisome is the fact the security agencies are not doing much to deter the kidnappers.

“It beats one’s imagination that the kidnap incidences ravaging Pegi is yet to be crushed by our professional security personnel,” he said adding that perhaps had Pegi been the abode of the rich and powerful the kidnap incidences would long have been contained.

He appealed to the FCT Police Command, the Nigerian Navy, the civil defence corps and the FCT minister to come to the rescue of the community by stepping up its presence in the area.