With insecurity boiling over in the country, North’s governors cried out on Thursday and took their concern to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
On Wednesday, bandits killed an estimated 83 people in multiple attacks in three local government areas of Zamfara State.
On Presidential order, a Special Military Operation was launched at 8:30 am yesterday from Mare Local Government to rid Zamfara of the “frequent and horrifying” activities of bandits, according to a statement by Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu.
The governors were led by chairman of the Northern Governors Forum Simeon Lalong (Plateau). With him were Governors Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe), Abubakar Bello (Niger) and Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa).
The Governors took turns to narrate their experiences, individual efforts at finding lasting solutions and their expectations from the Federal Government.
Lalong said: “This meeting is in respect of some of the common features of insecurity that we have within our states. You will recall that many of the states have some very similar situations.
“So, we put them together and see how to address some of those issues and we felt that we must also meet with Mr. President on them.
He declined to give details of the meeting’s outcome “because these are about security. But the take away is that the meeting was very fruitful and we are also very committed and we have seen a lot of commitment, so we are waiting for implementation. Mr. President has given us that assurance”.
President Muhammadu Buhari again directed security agents to take the battle to the rampaging bandits in Zamfara.
The President warned that “such wanton disregard for life will be brought to an end sooner than later.”
President Buhari charged the military, security and intelligence agencies to do what is required to halt the activities of criminals against defenceless Nigerians.
“The violence against poor villagers who are struggling with poverty and other severe economic challenges is not going to be tolerated by this administration,” the President warned.
He ordered security forces to “redouble your efforts in bringing an end to this mindless violence against innocent people.
“Let’s not give these criminals any opportunity to succeed by taking the war to their own camps and stop them in their tracks before they even have the time to respond under our massive fire power”, he said.
He added: “This insane and persistent violence against innocent people must stop”, adding that “these criminals should stop pushing their luck too far by believing that the government lacks the capacity to crush them.”
President Buhari reassured the people of Zamfara State that, “despite the latest set back in our efforts to protect our citizens, there will be no compromise in our determination to defeat these enemies of humanity.”
53 bodies recovered
No fewer than 53 bodies were recovered yesterday from the Magami district of Gusau in Zamfara State after suspected bandits unleashed mayhem on many communities.
The Wednesday morning attack was the fourth in two weeks in Magami.
Hundreds of bandits riding on motorcycles attacked the three communities of Yan Doka, Kango and Ruwan Dawa in the district.
A source said: “Many people were killed and buried in our village. There are still many in the bushes whose bosies have not been taken for burial due to fear of being attacked again by the bandits.
“I witnessed the burial of many persons in Ruwan Dawa village.”
Many injured persons were being treated at the Magami hospital.
Many villagers from the affected communities took refuge elsewhere in neigbouring villages.
Residents said the attackers moved from village to village unchallenged.
Many residents were yet to bury their dead as more bodies were being discovered.
Also attacked were Maradun and Bakura local government areas.
There was apprehension in the Dansadau district of the Maru Local Government Area following the killing of 20 people in separate attacks by rival groups.
The sole administrator of Bakura, Aminu Suleiman, told reporters that over 30 people were killed in attacks in Bakura and Maradun.
He said the deaths were recorded over days of reprisals between members of outlawed vigilante groups and bandits.
Most of the victims of the attack are members of the local vigilante group known as Yansakai, who attempted to repel the attack but were overpowered.
Some reports have put the death toll at over 80.
It was learnt that troops could not reach out to the areas due to communication and accessibility constraints.
The casualty count may rise. Further details remain unclear regarding the motive for the attacks.
Some reports suggest that some reprisal violence occurred in the vicinity of the incident.
Bandits abduct two nurses in Kaduna
Also on Thursday, bandits abducted two nurses from a general hospital in Idon, Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
The incident occurred a day after gunmen abducted students of Greenfield University in Kaduna and killed a porter who tried to secure the male hostel.
The Medical Director, Dr Shingyu Shamnom, said the gunmen gained access to the hospital through the fence and took away the two nurses who were on night duty.
“The kidnappers went away with the phone of one of the staff members whom we thought was also kidnapped but later returned,” he said.
Kajuru LGA chairman, Cafra Caino, said efforts were on to rescue the two nurses.
The monarch, Chief Hyacinth Ajon, and a resident, Benjamin Anakula, were killed in Tse Zoola, Makurdi.
Two others were killed around 8 pm at Mbayer-Yandev in Guma council.
A resident, Pa Aho Zoola, said during Governor Samuel Ortom’s visit that the herdsmen attacked the villagers at about 2 am on Wednesday.
He said his people never had any issues with the herdsmen despite cattle grazing on their crops.
Police debunk kidnap of 18 passengers in Ibarapa
Commuters numbering about 18 were kidnapped in the Igbo-Ora area of Ibarapa, Oyo State, a resident said.
But the police denied the abduction of passengers while parading four suspected kidnappers arrested in the area.
The suspects – Abubakar Rico, Samuel Oga, Christian Abunka and Sheu Babangida – were paraded along with other suspects including car snatchers, an alleged sodomist and 30 young men and a woman arrested for robbery and bank fraud.
Commissioner of Police, Mrs Ngozi Onadeko, said Oga, Abunka and Babangida were responsible for many armed robbery and kidnapping incidents in Ibarapa.
She said: “The trio confessed to being involved in the crime and their confessional statements are helping to the tracking of other syndicate members still at large.”
Two Bajaj motorcycles with Reg. No. GBE 035 UX and FST 651 QC, five empty cartridges, 13 cutlasses, one hammer, six syringes abs 54 cows, were recovered from the suspects.
Rico and three others were said to have kidnapped Jamiu Rasaq at his Ojamgbe village farm at about 11:00 am on Monday.
He was rescued three days after by the police, local vigilantes and hunters.
Rico was apprehended by members of the community and handed over to the police on his way to purchase food items for his gang members.
A 30-year old class teacher Ebenezer Olawuyi was accused of repeatedly having carnal knowledge of a 12-year old male pupil.
Olawuyi confessed to the offence. He said he was influenced by pornographic movies.
Onadeko denied the report that passengers of an 18-seater bus were kidnapped along Igbo-Ora-Eruwa road.
‘800 students kidnapped in four months’
The Incentive Based Programme (IBP) of the Policy House International said 60 dormitories have been shut in the North due to the kidnapping of school children.
It said 800 students were abducted between December 2020 and March this year.
IBP Executive Director, Taiwo Akerele, said the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria may increase from the current 10.5 million to 13 million by December 2021 if the trend continues.
He urged the Federal Government to accelerate the implementation of educational intervention programmes outlined under the Alternate School Programme (ASP) launched in January.
Akerele also urged state governments to construct perimeter fences around schools and to deploy technology and increased manpower in securing schools.
The House of Representatives urged Inspector General of Police (IG) Usman Baba, and Director-General of the Department of State Service (DSS) Yusuf Bichi, to step up actions to curtail kidnapping and banditry.
The resolution followed a motion by Prof. Julius Ihonvbere (Owan Federal Constituency) on the need to tighten security in Owan Federal Constituency, Edo State, to mitigate the increase in cases of kidnapping.
The House urged the Executive to come up with a holistic implementable strategy to address the incessant kidnappings and abductions in Owan Constituency.
Such strategies include the recruitment of men, deployment of personnel, support for vigilante groups and local hunters, as well as dialogue with critical stakeholders.
The Committee on Police Affairs and National Security Intelligence was mandated to ensure the resolution was implemented.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) demanded the immediate implementation of community policing across the country following the escalation of killings in Zamfara State.
The party, in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, bemoaned the killing of a security guard and the abduction of yet to be ascertained students by armed bandits at Greenfield University in Kaduna state on Tuesday night.
The PDP said it was saddening that bandits and terrorist elements are now holding the nation to ransom due to the manifest lack of commitment by the Federal Government to decisively confront the situation and secure the country.
The party lamented that under President Buhari, the country had become an expansive killing field where bandits, terrorists, kidnappers and other criminals are having a field day despoiling communities and killing Nigerians at will.
“This is completely unacceptable. Our party recalls that we had advised President Buhari to conduct a holistic rejigging of our national security architecture.
“But Mr President only replaced the faces of the service chiefs, without any attention to serious operational issues.”