By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Bashir Bello & Monsuru Olowoopejo
•As kidnappers, herdsmen, robbers, other criminals go on rampage
•It’ll be ridiculous to say I’m not concerned —Buhari
•Lagos fire service boss, 7 others kidnapped; •Police station attacked, two cops killed in Kaduna; •5 killed, 46 injured in Maiduguri blast
•FG orders foreigners to quit mining sites within 48-hrs
ABUJA — With renewed killings and kidnappings by bandits and herdsmen in Zamfara, Kaduna, Borno, Lagos, Katsina, and Anambra states, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, said it would be “ridiculous and unfair” to suggest that he was not concerned about the killings.
This came as the Federal Government, yesterday, ordered foreign miners to vacate mining sites in Zamfara State and its environs within 48 hours. No fewer than 50 people were killed, last Tuesay, by armed bandits in the state.
The Federal Government also announced the suspension of mining activities in the state so as to curtail armed banditry that has been terrorizing the people of the place.
The kiilings in Borno State have showed no respit, as no fewer than five persons were killed while 46 others sustained various degrees of injuries when Improvised Explosive Device, IED, was triggered at popular Muna park in Maiduguri.
Spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, in North-East, Mr. Abdulkadir Ibrahim confirmed that the bombing was triggered by two suicide bombers on Saturday’s evening.
Ibrahim said: “Immediately we received a distress call, emergency response teams were dispatched to the scene. The suspected suicide bombers had detonated their explosives within five minutes interval at Muna Dalti settlement as a result, three persons died with the two bombers, while other innocent people sustained various degrees of injury.”
Also speaking on the development, the Director, Rescue Operation of State Emergency Agency, SEMA, Usman Kachala, said the incident occurred about 8p.m.
Kachala said the corpses had been evacuated while 45 others injured in the suicide bomb attack are currently receiving treatment in Maiduguri General Hospital.
Kachala said: “The two female suicide bombers detonated Improvised Explosives Device (IEDs) vests strapped to their bodies in a crowded place at Muna-Dalti area of Maiduguri on Saturday night. Two of the deceased actually died while on admission in the hospital.”
Kidnapping in Lagos
Also in Lagos, Acting Director of the Lagos State Fire Service, Mr. Rasaki Musibau and seven others were kidnapped, weekend, by gunmen on the Itoikin-Epe Road in Ikosi-Ejirin Local Council Development Area, LCDA in the state.
Those identified by the police boss were Lagos fire boss, Rasaki Musibau (male), Mufutau Adams (male), Funmilayo Adelumo (female), Asiogu Martha (female), Lasisi Muka (male) and two others
Sources told Vanguard that the abductors stopped vehicles conveying the victims at Iwoye Bridge around 8p.m, and ordered the occupants to alight from their vehicles before whisking them to an unknown destination.
It was learned that the axis had become the new den for kidnappers lately after abducting Ikosi-Ejirin council chairman, Mr. Ajijedidun Samson Adebisi and Vice Chairman of Lekki LCDA, last month.
A family member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Vanguard that the fire service boss was abducted on Saturday.
The family member said: “He (Musibau) left home at about 5pm on Saturday. He drove himself and after leaving home, he had telephone conversations with friends till 7pm. And since then, we have not been able to reach him.
“The gunmen did not leave with his vehicle; where he had his phone and other belongings which were retrieved by the family. He was the only person in his vehicle. We plead that they release him to us urgently. He is a loving father and diligent in his work.”
Police deploys anti-kidnap squad
Confirming the abduction, Police Public Relation Officer, PPRO, Bala Elkana, told Vanguard that the Lagos Commissioner of Police, Muazu Zubairu, has deployed a special squad to ensure the prompt rescue and arrest of the perpetrators.
Elkana said: “It is true. The abduction happened Saturday about 8pm on Iwoye Bridge on Ikosi-Ejirin-Epe road. Some hoodlums blocked the bridge and whisked away seven persons including the director of fire service. The Lagos Commissioner of Police, Muazu Zubairu, has visited the scene Sunday night.
“We have deployed our special anti-kidnapping unit to comb the entire axis, rescue the victims and arrest the perpetrators.
“I want to assure the family of the victims that they should remain calm. The Nigerian Police has started trailing the perpetrators and we assure them that the victims will be rescued alive. We have intensified patrol on that axis and other adjourning roads,” he added.
Insecurity: Avoid traveling or moving alone, DG warns Corp members
In Kastina State, in the face of current security challenges, the Director General, National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Major-General Suleiman Zakari Kazaure, has warned corp members to be security conscious and avoid travelling or moving alone.
Major-General Kazaure gave the warning when he paid an inspection visit on the 2019 NYSC Batch A Corp members deployed to Kastina State and camped at the NYSC permanent orientation camp along Mani road, Katsina.
He said: “I admonished you to be security-conscious anywhere you are posted for your place of primary assignment, PPA. Avoid travelling or moving alone and also avoid following a particular track, instead, you should move in groups so that whatever happens, there is always someone to tell the story.
“I also urge you to respect the culture and tradition of your host community wherever you will be posted for your primary assignment. No man in Africa will want his tradition or culture disrespected. So be cool-headed and humble anywhere you find yourselves.
“Let me also charge you to become productive thinkers and doers in your efforts to move Nigeria and your society forward. I urge you to go out there and impact positively on the lives of people of your host community. Identify their problem and find a solution to that problem. By that, you would be leaving an indelible mark by touching on their lives positively,” DG Kazaure said.
Earlier, the state co-ordinator, NYSC Katsina, Hajiya Ramatu Sanda said over 2,100 corps members reported and registered in the camp while noting that the Corp Members have so far displayed high level of discipline.
Police station attacked, two cops killed
In Kaduna, two policemen were killed when their police station was attacked. The gunmen also attacked Kakangi Village in Birnin Gwari. It was gathered that the bandits descended on the village and began shooting into the air before torching some houses.
Scores were said to have been killed, although the exact figure could not be ascertained.
A community source, said the suspected bandits burnt down a police station at Kakangi village, Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna state, killing two policemen. It was gathered that the gunmen arrived the community on motorbikes around 5a.m., and began shooting sporadically. A resident of the community, who did not want to be named said the suspected bandits, who were armed with AK-47, killed two other persons.
Those who sustained injuries in the attack have reportedly been taken to the hospital for treatment. The state Police Public Relations Officer, Yakubu Sabo while confirming the incidence said a reinforcement had been sent to the area.
“We received a distress call through DPO Randagi on 6/4/19 about 1900hrs that Armed Men in large number entered Kakangi village of B/Gwari LGA a neighbouring community to Niger state, shooting sporadically attacking the villagers.
“Combined teams of PMF Personnel, conventional Police and Vigilante were quickly mobilized to the village engaged the bandits in fierce gun duel and successfully repelled the attack. Our gallant men gunned down three of the the bandits and several others escaped into the bush with bullet wounds.
“However, two of our men paid the supreme sacrifice during the intense gun duel with the bandits. One Insp Aliyu Mohammed and Sgt Rabiu Abubakar both attached to Randagi Division, while Sgt Ibrahim Nasir along with six civilians were injured and are now receiving treatment at the General Hospital B/Gwari.
“The attackers also torched some houses in the village. The Command has mobilized more reinforcement to the area with a view to apprehending the perpetrators of this attack and bring them to justice.
“The Commissioner of Police, CP Ahmad Abdurrahman has condemned the attack and assured members of the public that the Command will fish out the culprits. He however appealed to the good citizens of the State to support the Police with prompt and relevant information that could help in getting rid of the bandits in the state.
“The Commissioner of Police prayed for the repose of the souls of the gallant officers who lost their lives in the operation and quick recovery of the injured persons,” he said.
In Anambra State, suspected herdsmen had weekend stormed a farm settlement at Mmiata Anam, Anambra West Local Government of the state, killing six persons and inflicted severe wounds on 30 others.
One of the victims, said “The herdsmen stormed the Agweopia Farm Settlement Camp and Iyinkolo Farm Settlement Camp respectively, around 5.40a.m., on Friday, killed people and burnt houses and raped women and escaped before information reached the people in the community.”
According to the victim, who was lucky to escape, “Before people of the area knew what was going on, the herdsmen had killed six people, leaving about 30 people with different degrees of injuries.”
Protection of Nigerians, my main job — Buhari
Meanwhile, President Buhari insisted that ensuring the protection of lives of Nigerians remains his primary responsibility.
Responding in his tweet that he was indifferent to the killings, he wrote “It is ridiculous and unfair to suggest that I am not concerned about the situation in Zamfara, or doing anything about it. Ensuring the protection of the people of Nigeria is one of my primary responsibilities and functions. No other issue dominates my attention as much.
“We are fully determined to tackle this challenge ferociously until these remorseless killers are crushed and utterly defeated. We have deployed security agents to all the areas currently under attack, and we are constantly fine-tuning and escalating our security strategy.
“I am constantly in touch with the security chiefs, and receive regular briefings on the situation in Zamfara and across the country. Let me assure that we will continue to do everything to motivate and equip them to respond effectively to all our security challenges.
“I want to appeal to Nigerians that we should not politicize this tragic situation in Zamfara. How can I be indifferent to the senseless killings and kidnapping of my fellow citizens by bandits, and the deep trauma and impoverishment that these attacks inflict on them?”
IGP on foreign miners
Similarly, briefing State House correspondents at the presidential villa Abuja, yesterday on the situation in Zamfara, acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said that any foreign miner that continues mining activities would have his license revoked.
The briefing was attended by Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; Director General, Department of State Services, DSS; Yusuf Bichi and Director General National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ahmed Abubakar.
The Police IG said that it had been established that there was a nexus between activities of the bandits and illicit miners, adding that a combined team of security forces will be now dispatched to the area.
He said: “As part of sustained efforts to flush out, and permanently put an end to armed banditry and criminality in Zamfara State in particular and the North West in general, the Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with the Nigerian Military and other security services have commenced “Operation PUFF- ADDER” which is a full scale security offensive against the bandits.
“The operation is aimed at reclaiming every public space under the control of the bandits, arrest and bring to book all perpetrators of violence in the area and their collaborators, achieve a total destruction of all criminal camps and hideouts, mop up all illicit weapons fuelling the violence and attain a full restoration of law and order in the affected communities.
“Our commitment at protecting the sanctity of life and property is irrevocable, and we will not scale-down the pressure on the armed bandits until they are totally flushed-out.
“Meanwhile, in the face of intelligence reports that clearly establish a strong and glaring nexus between the activities of armed bandits and illicit miners — with both mutually re-enforcing each other, the Federal Government of Nigeria has directed as follows: “Mining activities in Zamfara and other affected states are hereby suspended with immediate effect. Consequently, any mining operator who engages in mining activities in the affected locations henceforth will have his licence revoked.
“All foreigners operating in the mining fields should close and leave within 48hours. I want to assure the general public, especially in the affected areas that the security services are doing their best to address the situation.
“May 1 appeal for the cooperation of the local communities, especially the traditional and religious leaders within the community.
“Meanwhile, we note the use of social media to spread fake news, falsehood and deliberate misinformation. We therefore, urge our citizens to exercise restraint in circulating unconfirmed information capable of doing more damage to us all.
“Let us not allow the social media to hijack our sense of judgment and capture our minds negatively.”
Causality figure in Taraba Tiv/Jukun clashes rises to 10 – Official
Also in Taraba State, Chairman of Wukari Local Government Area of the state, Mr Daniel Adi, has confirmed that 10 people were killed and several others injured in the ongoing clashes between Jukun and Tiv ethnic groups.
The Jukun and TIV ethnic groups share common boundary between Benue and Taraba states.
In an interview with newsmen in Wukari, yesterday, Adi who called for calm, further disclosed that more than nine communities had so far been razed and displaced from the Kente ward of the affected area.
“As I am talking to you now, several households including Government Day Secondary School, GDSS, Kente, were burnt down by the attackers in the early hours of today. I made efforts to contact my counterpart in Ukum LGA in Benue to appeal to his people to lay down their arms and embrace peace,” Adi said.
He disclosed that the Wukari LGA was footing the bills of several injured persons currently receiving treatment at the Wukari general hospital.
Meanwhile, Chief David Kente, a former All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship aspirant who hailed from the area, has condemned the wanton destruction of lives and property.
He described the crisis as unfortunate, adding that the Tivs and Jukuns in Kente had co-existed peacefully for many years after their first clashes in 1991.
He appealed to both the Tivs and Jukuns to embrace peace and sheath their swords, promising that all those who lost their property to the current crisis on both sides of the borders would be assisted.
“You see this is achievable because after the 1991 clashes between the two ethnic groups in Kente area, I single handedly provided succour to all the affected communities by providing roofing sheets, cement and related building materials.
“I also provided boreholes to the affected communities both on the Benue side and Taraba,” he said.
The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, of the Taraba Police Command, Mr David Misal, confirmed the development.
He however, said after the death of two persons at the initial stage of the crisis on April 1, the police was yet to ascertain the actual casualty figure.
Misal also confirmed that the command had deployed additional officers and men to restore peace and order in the area.