October 21, 2012

MURDER OF 24 AT DAWN: A vengeful attack in Dogon Dawa and allegations of complicity

MURDER OF 24 AT DAWN: A vengeful attack in Dogon Dawa and allegations of complicity

*How government engaged a hunter to deal with criminals
Tales of killings unlimited

By Luka Binniyat

Dogon Dawa is a sleepy village of about 20,000 residents of mostly Hausa traders and sedentary Fulani herdsmen, sitting by the roadside,  90kms east of  Zaria city  and about 120kms further east of Birnin Gwari town, the Emirate it falls under. Sunday Vanguard has been able to gather and reconstruct the gruesome murder which took place last Sunday.

There are unconfirmed suggestions that a serving police officer led the raid that went on for about five hours unchallenged.

According to all accounts, the invasion of Dogon Dawa that Sunday morning, was to secure the release of four suspected armed robbers arrested at Kuyello village by members of Dogon Dawa vigilante – the robbers had stormed the place penultimate Saturday. The four suspects were alleged to be part of a formidable armed robbery gang, said to have been chased out of Zamfara State, but eventually made a base around Dogon Dawa-Kuyello axis, not far from the Zamfara border with Kaduna State.

The bandits, as opined by residents of the two villages, had operated on this axis since July this year with impunity. The Kaduna State Police Command was said to have been informed about this. The Police however denied knowledge of this.

Rescue and Avenge

Less than 12 hours after the suspects were abducted from Kuyello by the fearsome Dogon Dawa vigilante, gunmen stormed Dogon Dawa at dawn. They seemed to know members of the vigilante, as they went from house to house shooting or stabbing people to death. Then they made a bid to rescue their captured robbers.

However, two of them were grossly injured in the course of their capture the previous day, and were said to be weighing so heavily that it became difficult to evacuate them; this was even made more difficult because their rescuers/avengers came through bush paths on foot.

The invading marauders in their gruesome wake, 24 dead including two of the earlier captured four who could not be evacuated.  Eleven people were severely wounded.

The official position of the Kaduna State Police Commissioner, Mr. Olufemi Adenaike: “Investigation revealed that on 13/10/2012, some members of the vigilante group from Dogon Dawa village went to Kuyello village, a distance of about 35km, and arrested four persons suspected to be members of a notorious gang terrorising their areas and took them down to Dogon Dawa for questioning.

“Following the arrest, some unidentified armed gang in Kuyello village, mobilised in their large numbers and stormed the village in the early hours of today in a bid to rescue the four persons arrested. The gang descended on innocent members of the village, killing a total of 24 persons. The gang succeeded in rescuing two out of the four persons arrested by the vigilante group while the other two whom the attackers could not rescue were killed by the same assailants”, he said.

An Emir Alleges Police Complicity

The Emir of Birnin Gwari, Alh. Zubairu Jibril Maigwari, however, indicts a Police Officer (names witheld).
In a chat with newsmen a day after the massacre, the Emir alleged that “the police officer, who my people and the armed robbers call OC, led the gang to massacre my people.

“He has also attempted to stop the arrest of the four suspected armed robbers when the Dogon Dawa vigilante went to arrest them. After the Dogon Dawa vigilante had arrested the suspects, the same OC followed them in a car and attempted to rescue them.

“In the same vein, when the gang of the armed men came to Dogon Dawa, the same OC directed the gang. He showed them the places to attack. Some of my people heard the members of the gang calling his name, OC, but he cautioned them to stop calling him with his popular name, OC”.

CP Adenaike Reacts

When the Emir’s allegations made the headlines on the October 16, the CP called a press conference in which he produced the officer, Shero, allegedly involved.

Adenaike lampooned the Emir for his allegations, describing them as a fabrication by the press, and allowed Shero and his immediate boss (the DPO at Birnin Gwari) to state their accounts of the invasion.

According to Adenaike, “I want to caution members of the press to be very careful how they report news. It is very, very wrong to say that a Police officer led the killings of these 24 innocent men. He has not run away contrary to your reports, and he is here with his Divisional Police Officer (DPO) to brief you. Feel free to ask him any questions. We have just started investigation, but your report has prompted calls to me from Aso Vila. The Policeman is here.  He is not entirely exonerated yet.

When told that the Emir spoke on record, he said, “we were at the State Security Council meeting today. Everyone that was quoted in the stories was there. I don’t want to mention names. But they all distanced themselves from the story”,

Shero States His Case

“My name is  Musa Shero. I am an ASP. I came from Kwara State. I am the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Kuyello. I have been in the Police for 32 years.

“On the 13th of October, I got a call from my officer, that vigilante from Dogon Dawa had come to  Kuyello around 12pm and arrested four people; that they were taking the people away to Dogon Dawa. I immediately went after them. There were about eleven of them. The four abducted men were in a corolla car with others. Four other motorbikes carried other armed men escorting the car,

“I was with three of my officers. I was able to reach them. And I swung the car and blocked them. At that point, the vigilante were looking very tough, and were not ready to cooperate to even brief me what would lead them to carry four people away without my knowledge. I then decided to inform my DPO about the development.

“There is no police post in Dogon Dawa. It is from Kuyello about 35km away that we have police station complete with Mobile Policemen (MOPOL) that monitor all the adjacent areas, and I am the OC in Kuyello.

“I don’t know what became of the arrested four. But on Sunday morning (14th October), I got a call around 7am that there was heavy shooting at Dogon Dawa. I then called on the MOPOL unit at my Station in Kuyello and asked them to set out for Dogon Dawa. But they complained that there was no fuel in their van. So I had to give them N2000 (two thousand Naira) from my pocket.

“They later called to inform me that the type of weaponry the marauders were using are too superior for them according to the sounds of the machine guns they heard.  So I told them to stay away. I then called on the DPO in Birnin Gwari and informed him. He said that the men should wait for his own men for re-enforcement.  That was how they arrived at Dogon Dawa late with the batch from the DPO. I did not follow them, because I was at the only place that had network coverage so that I can monitor the operations”

CSP Birchi Abubakar (DPO) of Brining Gwari

“I have had a good working relationship with the vigilante of Dogon Dawa and they have been useful in helping us reduce crime.

“When the OC (Shero) informed me about the refusal of the vigilante to handover the arrested four, I advised him to leave them alone and not to go into any (confrontation) with them, since we were working together.

“The head of the vigilante later called me that afternoon and informed me that they had captured four suspected robbers and that they would hand them over to me anytime.

He said he was waiting for the vigilante to bring the suspects to him in Birin Gwari the following day before their suspected partners struck to rescue them and take vengeance.

“When the OC informed me, around 7am the following morning that there was superior  firepower from the criminals, I told him that I was re-enforcing. But, unfortunately, it is about 120km from Birnin Gwari to Dogon Dawa by road, and the network there is very poor. By the time we arrived there, it was already 8pm. The killers had left. That was all I know about it”, he said.

Earlier Criminal Acts of killing

August 2011: Armed robbers went from house to house in search of members of the vigilante groups in some villages under Dansadau Emirate, Maru LGA. Ten persons were reportedly killed in the attack by the gang.

October 2011: Bandits again returned and killed 23 persons and injured many others in the same villages, and escaped safely.

January 2012: 15 traders were ambushed and killed; their corpses burnt in Birnin Magaji local government area of Zamfara State allegedly by the same gang.

June 2012: The same gang returned to Dansadau  and went from house to house, killing the residents and setting their houses ablaze unchallenged for hours by security agencies. 27 residents were killed in that orgy of bloodbath

Sate Govt Seeks Help of Famous Hunter, Ali Kwara

The State Government went for the services of a famous hunter of robbers in the North, Aliyu Mohammad Ahmed, a.k.a, Ali Kwara. After a 25-day operation in the forest hunting for the armed robbers, Ali Kwara announced victory.

Ali Kwara, according to news sources, engaged the bandits, killed a few, arrested some but the most disturbing revelation, according to unconfirmed accounts, was that Kwara’s allegation that 12 serving policemen were the suppliers of guns to the bandits.

Nine policemen were reportedly arrested in Zamfara State and that three others were arrested in neighboring Sokoto State for gunrunning.  He said the policemen arrested in Zamfara State included seven inspectors, a sergeant and a constable.

“These policemen were fingered by the armed robbers as the suppliers of their guns. The policeman in charge of armoury in Zamfara State was also fingered by the armed robbers. After the armed robbers fingered them, I told the police commissioners of the two states and they ordered for their arrest.
“Guns belonging to Zamfara and Sokoto State Police Commands were taken to as far as Niger and Plateau States, and to states in Niger Delta area,” Ali Kwara was quoted as saying.

Curiously, according to reports, the  Zamfara State Police Commissioner at that time, Mr. Usman Akila Gwary, did not deny the allegations of Ali Kwara on the conspiracy of Police with the robbers.
“I’m not competent to speak, because the case is being handled in Abuja,” he had said.
Meanwhile, Adenaike has vowed to fish out the perpetrators of killings of last Sunday, calling on residents to come out with useful information that would assist the Police.