Bandits now targeting traditional rulers – Official

December 21, 2020

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Tragedy struck Sunday in Madaka, Rafi local government area of Niger state when three members of a vigilante group were killed by bandits while attempting to foil the abduction of a district head.

Among those killed were commander of the vigilantes in the area, Malam Ishaku Alhassan and his son, Abdulhameed.

Residents said the gunmen, who were on motorbikes, stormed Madaka community in Rafi around 12.00noon and abducted its district head, Malam Zakari Ya’u-Idris.

The bandits, it was further learnt, also carted away food items and other valuables.

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Speaking to journalists on the development, chairman, Niger State Bureau of Statistics Board, Malam Muhammadu Husseini, said the abducted traditional ruler was earlier kidnapped December 2019 and freed after the payment of N4 million ransom.

Husseini said the latest incident happened while the traditional ruler was checking on his family after he heard of the new invaders.

The board chairman said the monarch was attacked in the process and abducted.

Hussein, a former chairman of the local government council, said the district head of Yakila, Abdulhamid Danyaro, was also abducted last week Thursday and still in captivity.

He said the gunmen abducted Danyaro around 3.00a.m at his palace in Yakila in the same area.

“The bandits requested a ransom and N3 million was raised. They (bandits) collected the amount and seized the phones and motorcycles of those delivering ransom and chased them away without giving them the captive,” he said.

Hussein said bandits “are targeting traditional rulers and vigilante members because of their commitment toward ensuring peace in their respective communities.”

 “The establishment of a military formation in the eastern part of Kagara, the headquarters of Rafi local government and Tegina will aid the quick response of security officials to forestall attacks by the gunmen,” NAN reports.

In another interview with journalists, Chief of Staff to Rafi LG Chairman Mohammed Mohammed, who also confirmed the development, said the bandits invaded the village at about 11a.m Sunday morning and operated till 2p.m while the villagers scampered for safety.

It was further gathered that the corpses of those massacred were yet to be retrieved as at the time of this report

 The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Niger state police command, Wasiu Abiodun, could not be reached for comment on the development.

APC govs 

Amidst the security challenge, serving governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have asked Nigeria’s security agencies to reinforce their capacity to protect and defend lives and properties in every part of the country.

The governors under the aegis of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), promised to work with President Muhammadu Buhari to bring an immediate end to the new phase of insecurity in Nigeria. 

 In a statement signed Sunday in Abuja by its chairman and Kebbi state Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the governors promised to work in harmony with all stakeholders for the restoration of peace across  the country.

 “We call on our security agencies to reinforce their capacity to protect and defend lives and properties of all Nigerians in every part of the country. On our part, as Governors elected on the platform of the APC, we will continue to work under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR to bring to an immediate end this new phase of insecurity in the country.

“We will ensure that, as leaders, we are able to work in harmony with all governors, political and non-political leaders for the restoration of peace across all parts of the country, irrespective of any difference.

 “Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians and must be secured as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God as affirmed by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic, as amended,” they said.

The statement further said: “With the rescue of the students, we wish to express of our gratitude to God Almighty and all those who worked for the successful rescue of these students from the hands of criminal armed bandits, especially, government of Katsina State, under the leadership of His Excellency, Aminu Bello Masari. 

 “Given the important role of our security agencies and other non-governmental leaders in the process that rescued our Kankara school children, it demonstrates that efforts to resolve our national security problem is a responsibility that require united, resolute and prompt responses.”

 Need for air force bases

 Meanwhile, the federal government has been advised to establish Air force bases in major border communities connecting Nigeria and her neighbours to confront security threats threatening the country.

 The government is also urged to establish free trade zones in the border communities to promote socio-economic ties between Nigeria and her neighbouring countries.

 These formed parts of the recommendations of participants at a one-day town hall meeting on Nigeria’s second peer review on the African Peer Review Mechanisms (APRM) process held in Ilorin Friday.

 The review was organised by the Kwara state office of African Union Development Agency (AUDA -AUDA) as part of self-assessment policy for members’ state of African union, to share experiences and strengthen policy in line with New Partnership for Africa Development NEPAD programme.   

The participants who broke into four cluster groups during the review, also appraised the ”inclusive” governance system of the administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq of Kwara state and his 56 per cent women representation in his cabinet, calling for a replication of such best practices in other states of the federation .

Addressing journalists on the sideline, Special Assistant to the Kwara state governor on MDGs, Dr. Jemila Ibrahim, expressed optimism that the meeting would  come up with recommendations to address the existing challenges and gaps  in the four thematic areas of the peer review .  

“The review is the second of its kind in Nigeria; the first one was done in 2003. At the end on today’s review, the report of the view will be sent and integrated into national programmes of actions”, she said.

 Also, a board member and north central coordinator, Hajia Tawa Yusuf Aremu, expressed satisfaction with the process of the review.  

El-Rufai deploys more troops

In a related development, four people were killed Saturday night in Ungwan Gaiya, Ungwan Gimba, Ungwan Makama and Apimbu village in Zangon Kataf local government area in continuation of reprisals in the area. 

A statement signed Sunday by the state commissioner for internal security and home affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan, said Governor Nasir el-Rufai condoled with the family of the slain people, while urging residents to stop resorting to illegal and violent methods of settling grievances.

 “Military and police authorities have informed the Kaduna state government that four persons have been killed in further reprisal attacks in Zangon-Kataf LGA at night on Saturday, 19th December 2020. 

“Troops under the auspices of Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) had earlier reported the killing of seven persons at Gora Gan in Zangon Kataf local government and the counter-killing of seven herders at Ungwan Idi and Kasheku of Kauru local government. 

“An update from the military received on Sunday morning informed the government that following clearance operations at Ungwan Gaiya, Ungwan Gimba and Ungwan Makama of Zangon Kataf local government, three more corpses were recovered, two of which have been identified as follows: Noel Markus (35 years), Titus Thomas (32) and one unidentified herder 

“The military also reported that one citizen was killed in Apimbu village of the same local government. The deceased was identified as 35-year-old Kambai Yohanna. The military confirmed that two houses were burnt in the Apimbu attack. 

“Two mobile phones were also recovered. The corpses and other valuables were handed over to the police for further investigation and analyses.

“In the meantime, troops of the Operation Safe Haven and Special Forces are still carrying out operations in Kauru and Zangon Kataf local government areas. 

“Governor Nasir el-Rufai who sent condolences to the families that lost their loved ones on behalf of Kaduna state government, reiterated the need for aggrieved individuals and groups to seek recourse to the law instead of resorting to illegal and violent methods of settling grievances.

“The Governor commends security agencies, traditional and religious institutions, community leaders and other critical stakeholders who remain committed to the peace building efforts of the government, despite the challenging situation.

“He expressed thanks to the military and police high commands for the deployment of more personnel to the two local government areas, towards enhancing security.”

EU lauds Buhari on Kankara

Meanwhile, the European Union Human Rights Forum (EUHRF) has commended President Buhari for the release and safe return of the 344 students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State.

In a statement Sunday, Special Rapporteur, Lake Chad, West Africa, Joseph Cullen described the release of the students as deserving relief, saying everything ended without bloodshed.

However, Cullen noted that measures must be put in place to avert a repeat of the action.

The statement reads partly, ”The abduction had sent shockwaves across the entire international community because of the similarities it shared with the kidnap of the schoolgirls in a secondary school in a town of Chibok in Borno State of Nigeria which took place on the night of Monday, the 14th day of April 2014 under the previous administration.

”EUHRF commends President Muhammadu Buhari and the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for this cheery outcome even as it is now apparent that measures must be implemented to ensure such actions do not occur in the first place.”

Presidency reassures

    Reassuring Nigerians however on the teething security challenges, the presidency said President Buhari has “demonstrated unquestionable capacity to protect Nigerians.”

Senior Special Assistant to the Presidential on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu gave the assurance in a statement issued Sunday in Abuja.

The presidential spokesman also commended the Nigerian forces, whom he said, were not getting the accolade they deserve.

He said: “The Buhari Administration has the will and has demonstrated unquestionable capacity to protect Nigerians. Those who doubt this Government’s resolve are mischievous. It is an administration empowered to draw enormous resilience from innate reservoirs of human resources, a network of reliable intelligence sources, and demonstrated expertise in scenario building and mediation.

“Under enormous pressures from local and international sources, those charged with coordinating the boys’ safe return held tight, stayed focused, refusing to succumb to doubts, taunts, and conspiracy theories. They eventually got the job done most transparently and brought back the boys.

“Our Security Forces often do not get the accolades they deserve. Once more, the Nigerian Military has delivered on the big stage. They had a plan, kept to it, and got the job done without firing a single shot. This is important because one casualty, one dead schoolboy, could have traumatised President Buhari and the parents. One dead student would have tainted the rescue mission.

“The President wanted the boys back alive and delivered to their parents. As a compassionate father figure, he would have been pained if one life had been lost in the rescue process. Bravo to the Nigerian Military and our security agencies for a well-coordinated and professionally executed mission to the President’s order reuniting the boys with their parents.

“There are not enough words to thank our gallant men and women in uniform, the military that continues to make sacrifices for many of us to enjoy and express our freedoms in its various forms and shapes. Millions of appreciative citizens applaud the success of the Army in bringing back the Kankara schoolboys. Well done, boys!

“Terrorists have lost the lead narrative with the military and our security personnel’s excellent performance in rescuing the boys without any incident. They can run, but they can no longer hide. The momentum now lies with our forces, and one should expect a new push against violent forces and their sponsors.”

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