Animasahun Salman examines the menace of banditry in the North and how it has left behind tales of woes often left behind by the criminals
“I was there when my father was killed by bandits and I will avenge his death,” were the words of Umar Mohammed, when reacting to the killing of his father by bandits in their Magami Village in Katsina State.
“My father was killed in my presence,” he said further, with a note of grief. “It is by the miracle of God that I’m alive today. I would have been killed. I was very close to our grinding machine at home. My father was trying to collect some vegetables when I heard the sound of the gunshot.”
Visibly hurt by the incident, he lamented further, “Yes, I know those who killed him. They said if they caught me, they would kill me, so I decided to run away, and my mum didn’t know where I ran to.”
In an interview that has since gone viral, Umar narrated how he ran to another community in the heat of the attack. He said when he reached Dandabi, he was with his brother and when he heard gunshots, he ran away, praying for God’s intervention.
Despite the fate that had befallen him, Umar’s dream of being educated remains intact. “I want to enroll in school to stop my mother from going into the forest,” he stated. “I want her to remain at home and even if she stops going to the forest, she has to look for what we will eat.”
Many residents lamented that insecurity in the region had yet to abate despite the changes in the military and security apparatus. To date, women, children and even men are being killed, kidnapped, attacked and displaced by the bandits turned terrorists, while farmers have been chased from their farmland, stirring the possibility of poverty and hunger. And apart from the attacks, it has been argued that it is equally inhibiting the development of the country.
Not only the poor and middle income earners have been victims of the banditry, some political leaders, including state and national lawmakers, have also been unable to visit their constituencies.
A lawmaker at the Sokoto State House of Assembly, Saidu Ibrahim, representing Sabon Birni South, a few months ago lamented that bandits were in control of his constituency and that he had been unable to visit.
“No district head or village head, not to talk of a ward head, can say anything against the bandits. This is the true picture of the situation,” he stated. “Even when there are issues to be settled, no formal setting can intervene because everyone is afraid of the bandits.
“In most of the villages under Isa and Sabon Birni Local Government Areas, I swear to you, they are all under bandits’ control. Bandits are in charge. They have occupied the whole place.”
A few weeks ago, suspected Boko Haram terrorists ambushed vehicles of security agents who were escorting motorists on the Gwoza–Limankara–Uvaha Road, killing a soldier on the spot. Also, a patrol van was set ablaze while five commercial vehicles were also burnt down with the passengers inside roasted, even as a dozen bodies were unaccounted for.
Sources revealed that the incident happened around 5 pm when the soldiers and civilian JTF members were providing cover to passengers travelling to Gwoza, Askira-Uba LGA in Borno State and some parts of Adamawa State.
A military source had disclosed further, “The GOC (General Officer Commanding) was at the scene of the attack. A soldier and many passengers were killed in the ambush, and five vehicles, including a military van, were burnt with the passengers inside. A few female passengers were abducted by the insurgents but were released in the evening.”
A miffed Senator Ali Ndume, representing the Borno South, who also confirmed the incident, said, “The spike in killings in the Gwoza area has become rampant in recent times. It happens on a daily basis. So, we are calling on the military to take the fight to the enclave of the insurgents because we all know where they are.
“Farmers are now scared of going to harvest their farmland, so it’s high time the military led the civil (populace) who are willing to take part in the fight, provide them with logistics to liberate the area.”
Also in Borno State, marauding Boko Haram insurgents killed 10 farmers and abducted several others in the Mafa Local Government Area of the state. Aside from this attack, which occurred late Saturday afternoon in the fields between Bulakunkumma and Maiwa villages of the Baram Karowa ward of the LGA, the insurgents also obtained N4m from a businessman in Zannari ward as ransom.
Insecurity in the North has degenerated such that many states in the region are faced with one form of challenge or the other.
It was gathered that the assailants also abducted one female student simply identified as Ajoke, an ND II student of Science Laboratory Technology. Students, who sustained varying degrees of gunshot injuries, were said to be receiving treatment at a hospital in the state.
The victims, Freedom Luka and Ogwuche Janet, said to be students of HND l Public Administration and HND II Business Administration and Management respectively, as well as one Danladi Nicholas said to be seeking admission.
From Zamfara to Kaduna, Katsina and some other states, students have been abducted by the bandits. Students, staff and residents have at different times drawn the attention of the authorities to the polytechnic’s porous security but with no response from any quarters until the bandits struck.
In Kaduna State, where there are several military formations, not much has changed in terms of security. Recently, bandits were said to have invaded Anguwar Dandali in the Zaria Local Government Area of the state, killing four people and injuring five.
Confirming the incident, the village head of the area, Mallam Sunusi Yusuf told our correspondent that the suspected bandits arrived around 10.30 pm on Friday night and started shooting aimlessly into the air.
He said the bandits succeeded in shooting nine persons and abducting five others before the arrival of security operatives who engaged them in a gun battle. “Out of the nine persons shot, four instantly died while five sustained serious injuries. Due to the superior power of the security operatives, the bandits after shooting their victims retreated into the bush, abducting four other persons,” he disclosed.