•Bandits killed all men, set our villages ablaze; 15 soldiers killed, 19 wounded in Borno
•We lost five men, killed scores of terrorists– Military
•Army bans use of motorcycles in Kano, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna, Niger
•Security stakeholders task govt on urgent intervention
By Emmanuel Nnadozie, Kingsley Omonobi, Ndahi Marama, Bashir Bello & Nasir Muhammad
ABUJA—”WE were told to hide our arms because security operatives were coming. We heeded the call by hiding our arms. We saw some people coming towards us, we thought they were the operatives, not knowing that they were bandits. They started shooting sporadically. Before anyone could run to carry arms, they had done maximum damage.”
That was how Malam Adamu Salihu, one of the survivors of bandits’ attack in Kankara Local Council, one of the frequently attacked areas in Katsina State, narrated how the area was attacked recently.
Left at the mercy of the bandits by security agencies, he said they had to resort to self-defence, which unfortunately proved unhelpful during the last attack.
Salihu told Vanguard, weekend, how they survived the attacks in Katsina and Zamfara states, as Boko Haram insurgents’ attack on a military base at Magumeri Local Council of Borno State, left 15 soldiers dead and wounded 19. However, the military authorities said five soldiers died and scores of the insurgents were killed.
Meanwhile, stakeholders in the security sector rose from a meeting in Abuja, weekend, and called on government and security agencies to join forces to check rising insecurity in the country.
Victims recount ordeal in Zamfara
In Zamfara, there is only one official Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camp in Anka Local Council of the state. The camp is about 200 kilometers from Gusau, the state capital.
In most cases, victims seek refuge in relatives’ houses across the state and beyond. At the weekend, victims of the bandits’ attacks took turns to narrate their ordeals.
How bandits killed all able-bodied men in my village
A victim, who simply identified herself as Amina Ishaka, who is taking refuge in Matazu area of Gusau Local Council, said that during the last quarter of 2018, some unknown gunmen stormed her village in Mada town, killed all able-bodied men and set the village ablaze.
Amina said the raid which claimed the lives of her father, husband and two grown up children, compelled her and the remaining women in the village to flee to various towns and cities in the state in search of shelter and security.
According to her, gunmen carrying sophisticated weapons converged on her village in broad daylight last Friday and started shooting sporadically from every direction, an assault that led to the death of all the village men.
She explained that the bandits operated for six hours without the intervention of security agents, adding that more than 10 villages were raided on that very day.
“When we reached Mada town on foot that night, we met over 1,000 women and children in a temporary camp given to us by Gusau Local Government Authority. We spent a week at the camp, but after realizing that the government cannot even feed us and people started falling sick as a result of hunger, two of my daughters and I came to Gusau.”
Another woman of about 75 years told Vanguard in Anka, one of the local councils mostly hit by armed bandits, that she was returning from a local market in her village in Kawaye, when she was met someone who told her that bandits attacked her village and wiped out all her family and the remaining people in the village.
The woman who revealed with tears, said that after receiving the news, she fainted and was later taken to the general hospital in Anka where she regained consciousness some days later.
She called on good spirited individuals to assist the victims.
Malam Mannir Ibrahim, aged 52, of Kware village in Shinkafi Local Council of Zamfara State and currently residing in Awala area of Gusau, lamented that he lost four members of his family.
According to him, the bandits attacked Kware, his village in February 2019 and killed eight members of the community, kidnapped two persons and rustled their cattle.
Ibrahim said the attacks made him to abandon all his farms in the village and relocated to a relative’s house in Gusau.
He lamented that the situation had become more difficult now that he had to search for menial jobs and sometimes beg for alms to survive.
A victim of of the recent attack on Moriki Government Girls Comprehensive secondary School, Malama Hadiza Abdulkadir, also spoke on how her daughter, Fatima and two sons Hassan and Ibrahim, were abducted.
“I was walking from the staff quarters to the kitchen area at about 9:00pm when some hoodlums stormed the school where I’m working as a caterer with guns in hand, surrounded me and asked me to take them to where the students were.
‘’I told them that students were on holiday and as they were forcing me to take them to the hostel, one of the school teachers appeared.
“When their attention was turned to the teacher, I took the chance and ran for my life. I hid in a soak-away pit for hours. When I came out of my hiding place later, I found out that my three children had been abducted.”
How bandits, kidnappers altered our lives in Katsina
I narrowly escaped death – Saidu
A victim in Kankara Local Council, Malam Usman Sa’idu, said he narrowly escaped death when gunmen invaded his community, recalling that some other persons who ran side-by-side with him were gunned down but only God saved his life.
“It was an unfortunate incident. At around 4:30 pm on Friday, we suddenly heard gunshots. We stopped to clear the doubt in our minds, then the next thing we saw was people running in their numbers shouting ‘thieves, thieves, thieves’ as the bandits arrived.
“As we ran away from the bandits towards the Eastern direction, they followed us with three motorcycles asking us to stop. They started shooting sporadically saying ‘stop, stop’ we didn’t stop, they shot some dead but it was God that saved our lives.”
Bandits caught us unawares, while we hid our arms – Victim
Another victim, Malam Adamu Salihu, said they have resorted to protecting themselves by buying arms (locally made guns) and bullet charms.
Salihu said they were caught unawares by the attack of the bandits.
He said they were told to hide their guns in anticipation of the arrival of the security personnel but were outsmarted by the bandits who took advantage to strike.
His words: “We were told to hide our arms that security operatives were coming. We heeded the call by hiding our arms. We saw some people coming to us, so we thought they were the operatives, not knowing that they were bandits. They started shooting sporadically, Before anyone could run to carry arms, they had done maximum damage.”
“They continued to shoot, opened fire on people, they killed nine people, abducted a lady, a house wife and a boy just coming back from the forest.”
Bandits killed my people, set their houses ablaze, cart away livestock — District Head
The District Head of Kankara, Alhaji Yusuf Lawal, also spoke on how his people are being killed, their houses set ablaze and properties, livestock, food stuffs and other items carted away by the bandits.
Lawal said if something urgent was not done to address the menace, farming activities will be crippled in the area this year.
“It is a calamity that has befallen us in Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State. Some people, mostly Fulani, come out from the forest area, they strike, kill our people, go away with their food stuffs, and their handsets. They equally set ablaze their houses and shops. They cart away livestock.
“This year, farming activities cannot take place here with the rainy season approaching, if the government fails to arrest the ugly situation,” he said.
Girls, pregnant women also kidnapped – Shara’atu
Malama Shafa’atu Abubakar, who was displaced from Yar-Center/Sherere village in Kankara is one of the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs. She said her daughters and women, including pregnant women, were not spared when the bandits attacked as the bandits kidnap them.
Shafa’atu said the bandits have rendered them homeless by settting their houses ablaze, forcing them to relocate.
“We are here at the IDP camp because of the activities of bandits, they are terrorizing us. They sent us packing from our village. They set our village ablaze.
“We are warned not to bear arms and they snatched all our arms. They set ablaze our shops, cars, burnt houses, and took away our animals and some of the animals were burnt.
“Some of our people were killed, they abducted some of our girls and women, including the pregnant ones.
“We are calling on the government at all levels, including the President, to come to our aid for the sake of Allah and His Prophet as we are in critical condition,” Shafa’atu stated.
Bandits sacked more than 200 households under my watch – Village head
The village head of Guzurawa, in Safana local government area, Muhammed Bello, said the activities of the bandits have left a village of more than 200 households under his watch sacked.
“Many people have been killed by bandits and most of the survivors don’t sleep in their houses as a result of banditry in their areas. There is a village under my watch with more than 200 households was sacked. The village is now empty because you won’t find anybody there. People have deserted their homes because of series of attacks. We are in the villages, we know what is happening.
“We that reside in the villages feel the heat. You will see people calling or come in the middle of the night crying that they have kidnapped their wives or children.
“Two daughters of a ward head were kidnapped. Their wedding is around the corner. Three weeks on, they are nowhere to be found and no communication yet. They (bandits) stormed his village and went away with the two ladies,’’ he said.
We paid N2m ransom for my three kids – Yusuf
Lawal Yusuf, also a resident of Kankara whose three children were kidnapped, said the bandits demanded for N15million as ransom but later settled for N2million when he told them he cannot afford it.
“I am one of the first victims of bandits attack in Kankara. They came in the middle of the night around 1am. I was awake browsing online in my room when they came. I heard sounds of movement at the back of my room around where I kept my livestock. I peeped from my window to see what was happening. Then I heard movement in the next house, my father’s house. They broke in and kidnapped my step mum. They went with her and two others they had earlier kidnapped.
“They jumped the fence into my house and attempted to break the door to my room. When their attempt failed, they went with my three children in place of me. They threw my children within the age bracket of 9 – 11 years down from the fence.
“My children spent 23 days in the kidnappers’ den. They demanded for N15 million as ransom which I told them I have never seen in my life. We later settled for N2 million when I told them I can’t afford N15 million. They collected N5 million for the release of my step mum,” Yusuf stated.
15 soldiers killed, 19 wounded as Boko Haram attacks military base
Meanwhile, suspected Boko Haram fighters killed 15 Nigerian soldiers in an attack on a military base in Borno State, security sources said, weekend.
The terrorists rode into Magumeri Local Council of Borno and sacked a brigade there at about 6:00 p.m. on Friday, and reportedly killed a captain, a lieutenant and 13 soldiers after an intense fire fight
Nineteen soldiers who were wounded in the attack, were reportedly evacuated to the military hospital in Maiduguri for treatment.
About 24 soldiers who survived the attack, which was first reported by Agence France Presse on Friday, left the base to a safer military facility, sources said.
Heavy military equipment, including anti-aircraft machine guns and Toyota Hilux vehicles, were reportedly stolen by the insurgents during the attack.
The attack came as the military was managing the aftermath of a similar overrun of a base in Borno on April 26. At least five soldiers were killed on that day, while the dozens feared missing are yet to be found
Military confirms attack
The Nigerian army says many insurgents were killed in Friday’s attack at Magumeri town in Borno state.
The Islamic State (IS) had claimed responsibility for the attack, saying its fighters killed 10 soldiers and burnt a military base.
But in a statement on Sunday, Ezindu Idima, deputy director, army public relations, sector 3 Operation Lafiya Dole, said five soldiers were killed.
He said the insurgents invaded the town in large numbers to loot food items and other valuables.
Idima said after the insurgents attacked the military base, they engaged the soldiers in a fierce gun battle.
However, he said the troops overpowered the fighters, killed many, while others escaped with gunshot wounds.
The operation spokesman said the army is in pursuit of the fleeing insurgents.
“During the encounter, the terrorists suffered heavy losses/ casualty,” Idima said.
“Unfortunately, five soldiers paid the supreme price. Troops have continued to intensify vigilance and a high level of alertness to deny the bandits freedom of action.”
Idima said Olufemi Akinjobi, commander sector 3 of the operation, praised the gallantry of the soldiers.
“He charged them to maintain the momentum and the successes achieved so far to ensure the final defeat of the terrorists,” Idima said.
Stakeholders call for urgent government intervention
In a related development, rising from a meeting in Abuja, stakeholders on security, who spoke through their convener and a top private security expert, Chief Wilson Urobi, noted that specifically, the re-introduction of special constables system by the police boss as provided for in Section 50 (1) of the Police Act Cap P19 LFN 2004) to serve as voluntary community police officers under the coordination of the Nigeria Police Force, is in line with the spirit of community policing.
They also expressed happiness with the upgrade of the leadership of the Police Mobile Force (PMF) unit to Assistant Commissioner of Police for effective and efficient operational and administrative control of the unit.
According to the stakeholders, on assumption of duty on January 16, 2019, the Acting IGP did say that his appointment and the confidence reposed in him by Mr. President and, indeed, the country at large represents a call to duty and a charge to restore the dwindling primacy of the Nigeria Police Force within the internal security architecture of the nation.
The Police boss did promise that a number of well thought-out reform initiatives directed at restoring the traditional policing standards of the Force shall be vigorously pursued in all aspects of policing functions, particularly in operations, intelligence, investigation, training, science and technology and innovation (STI) as well as monitoring and evaluation within the Force.’’
The stakeholders further stated that he established a new Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) Base in Kaduna State to provide additional manpower and firepower in the reinvigorated fight against criminal elements, especially along the Abuja-Kaduna Express way and also established the Citizens-Centered and Community Driven Policing Model (Community Policing) as a policy thrust to return policing to the people.
They, therefore, called on all relevant agencies to ensure that the police was provided with all the needed tools to tackle the onerous responsibility ahead.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army, under its Exercise Harbin Kunama 111, yesterday banned the use of motorcycles in 7 states of the North, noting that perpetrators of criminal acts made use of them.
The Army in a statement signed by Col Sagir Musa, Acting Director, Army Public Relations, in Abuja yesterday, said: “The Nigerian Army over time has observed the use of motorcycles by armed bandits, kidnappers, criminal elements and their collaborators as enablers to perpetrate their heinous crimes especially in the states within the north west geopolitical zone of the country.
“This informed the decision and directive to ban the use of motorcycles within the hinterland, particularly around the forests where the armed bandits, criminals and kidnappers hibernate and all around where troops are conducting operations alongside other security agencies.”