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FG talks tough as bandits kill over 40 in one week

By Terhemba Daka (Abuja), Saxone Akhaine, Abdulganiyu Alabi (Kaduna), Joseph Wantu (Makurdi), Michael Egbejule (Benin City) and Ayodele Afolabi (Ado Ekiti)
12 March 2021   |   4:31 am
Despite reassurances by government, the deteriorating state of security in the country, particularly in the northeast, is daily testing the might of security agencies.

Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar (left); Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado-Bayero; Emir of Kazaure, Dr Najib Hussaini-Adamu; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi and Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe during  their meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja…yesterday.  PHOTO: NAN

• Restates order to shoot at sight anyone found with AK-47
• Banditry becoming too much, traditional rulers tell Buhari
• We’ll not negotiate with insurgents, NSA says, rules out engagement of mercenaries

Despite reassurances by government, the deteriorating state of security in the country, particularly in the northeast, is daily testing the might of security agencies.

Criminal gangs have killed over 40 people in three separate attacks in northwest and central Nigeria this week, residents said yesterday. Bandits wreaked havoc in Kaduna communities yesterday, killing seven persons, and leaving many injured after rustling cattle.

In Igabi Local Government Area, four persons were killed, two in Chikun and one in Giwa Local Government Areas, The Guardian gathered. This was confirmed by the Commissioner for Internal and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan.

“In the course of the raid, the bandits razed three houses belonging to Mohammad Jibril, Salisu Ya’u and Idris Muhammad. A pick-up truck belonging to one Umaru Saleh was also burnt. In all, 20 cows belonging to two residents were rustled and herded away by the bandits,” Aruwan said.

Also yesterday, bandits went berserk and attacked Tse-Haaga community in Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of Benue State around 5:00a.m., killing a police officer and burning several houses, including a police station.

On Wednesday, motorcycle-riding bandits stormed Damaga village in Zamfara State, killing residents and stealing livestock as villagers fled the shooting spree.

“The bandits came in around 1:00p.m. and began shooting indiscriminately. They killed 13 people. They took away a large number of cattle, sheep and goats. They didn’t spare even chickens,” Ayuba Musa told AFP.

The shooting forced students from a secondary school in the village to abandon their classes for fear of abduction, another resident, Sahame Umar, said.

Earlier on Wednesday, gangs invaded Osewu village in Nasarawa State. “The bandits used machetes to attack people and killed 17, including our chief,” a resident, Idris Habibu, told AFP.

Also, the Emir of Anka in Zamfara State, Attahiru Ahmad, has said more than 100 miners operating between Anka and Maru Local Government Areas in the state were abducted by bandits last week. Ahmad, chairman of the state council of chiefs, disclosed this in Gusau, the state capital on Tuesday when Lucky Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), led service chiefs on an assessment visit to the state.

The Emir explained that the incident took place when the state was focused on the rescue of the 279 students abducted on February 26, from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe.

Ahmad also said the bandits killed 10 persons during an invasion of a mining site in Zamfara. “The bandits have been attacking those involved in artisanal mining and carting away their money and property,” he said.

Three persons, a lecturer and two students of the National Institute of Construction Technology, Uromi, Edo State, were yesterday kidnapped by gunmen, while a palm-wine tapper and husband of three wives, simply identified as Osigwe Ayomonekhai, was killed by unknown assailants in Jattu, Etsako West Local Government Area of the state.

Ayomonekhai, said to be in his early 50s, was killed in the early hours of Thursday, when he set out from his Iyuku Road residence for his usual palm-wine tapping business.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Bello Kontongs, confirmed the kidnap and said the police were on the trail of the gunmen. This is coming just as one Mr Godwin Osakwe and his 17-year-old son, who were kidnapped on Tuesday, were released yesterday after the family reportedly paid N3 million ransom.

WORRIED by the escalating insecurity, members of the National Council of Traditional Rulers, yesterday, visited the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where they sought the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari in tackling the menace of banditry in the country.

Speaking with newsmen, the Etsu Nupe, Yahaya Abubakar, decried the situation, saying the activities of bandits were beginning to take a toll on their people. Specifically, the delegation of the council made up of representatives from the six geo-political zones of the federation, requested the president to do more to restore normalcy across the country.

The monarch revealed that the bandits make use of weapons with high sophistication compared to the ones used by security operatives deployed to tackle them. He stressed the need for the government to equip the Nigerian military to enable them match the bandits.

Distraught on all fronts by insecurity challenges, the Federal Government, yesterday, insisted that it would not engage the deployment of mercenaries to prosecute the ongoing fight against insurgents and other forms of insecurity.

President Buhari emphasized that security chiefs have received marching orders to go harder on criminals, including shooting anyone found illegally with AK-47. The President told the traditional rulers co-chaired by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, to use their roles and positions as bridge builders in each of their communities to complement government efforts at ensuring peace and security.

The meeting was attended by security chiefs including the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno (rtd); Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Director-General of Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi; and the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.

The President expressed dismay at the attacks on police stations and killings of security personnel by criminals, warning that no investor will invest in a country that is unsafe.

He appealed to the traditional leaders to deploy their reach and influence in the best interest of assisting the government to root out those whose sole objective remains to cause trouble and destruction of livelihoods and families across the nation.

Restating his marching orders to the newly appointed service chiefs to bring the security situation under control, the President noted that closer control can only be achieved with the cooperation and collaboration of traditional rulers and authorities, who occupy a critical role in our society.

In separate remarks, the royal fathers stressed the need for the traditional institution to be assigned definite roles, particularly on peace and security, within the ambit of the constitution, as well as regular engagement with the National Assembly on multiple fronts.

The following royal fathers made interventions at the meeting: Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe; Etsu Nupe, Alh. (Dr.) Yahaya Abubakar; King Jaja of Opobo, Dr. Dandeson Douglas Jaja; Emir of Bauchi, Dr Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu; Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Muhammad Iliyasu; and the Alawe of Ilawe-Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Ajibade Alabi.

Also speaking, the NSA said negotiating with the criminals would suggest weakness and incapacity on the part of government. Monguno spoke at the third edition of the weekly Presidential Media Briefing with security chiefs, forming the crux of discussions at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The NSA rejected calls by North-east governors to engage foreign mercenaries in routing Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa forest and other enclaves. He said: “The president’s view and directive is that we will not engage mercenaries when we have our own people to deal with these problems. We have the personnel and resources, and the president has given a new lease of life to the armed forces.”

On why the government was silent on the utterances of the Islamic scholar, Ahmad Gumi, who has been calling on government to grant insurgents amnesty, Monguno said he recently met and interacted with him briefly in Kaduna at the zonal town hall meeting with service chiefs, but that he was still waiting for the cleric to come forth.

This is coming as the Nigerian Army recently berated the Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, for alleging that non-Muslim soldiers were responsible for the attacks against bandits.

MEANWHILE, in Ekiti State, the Commissioner of Police, Mr Babatunde Mobayo, has said the command is ready to start the enforcement of the presidential directive by President Muhammadu Buhari against those carrying AK-47 rifles illegally. Mobayo said the state police command is resolute in restoring peace between the warring farmers and herdsmen in Ekiti, using the instrumentality of the laws and arbitration when necessary to halt ethnic tension in the state.

This came as the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Ekiti chapter, resolved that the establishment of ranches will help in quelling lingering crises between farmers and herders.