Barely 48 hours after attacking Bethel Baptist High School and whisking away over 140 students, with 121 still in captivity, bandits again invaded five houses at Ungwan Gimbiya, Sabon Tasha, in Chikun local government area of Kaduna State and abducted 15 persons.
The bandits who stormed the community shooting sporadically around 10:30pm cut through the block walls fencing the houses of their captives, including a pharmacist, landlord and his tenants, broke their windows and took them out of their houses to an unknown destination.
Our correspondents who visited the scene of the attack reported that although 15 people were initially taken, two nursing mothers whose husbands were taken away and two elderly and hypertensive women whose husbands and children were also also taken away said they were abandoned along the way when they fainted on their way.
LEADERSHIP recalls that yesterday’s abduction happened in the same area where one Dr Ataga’s wife and two children were kidnapped in 2020.
Ataga’s wife was eventually killed by the criminal and her children were released after ransom was paid.
One of the nursing mothers whose husband was kidnapped in the latest attack said, “They came around past ten in the night of Wednesday when my husband was still outside with one guy. They were discussing, and I was inside because I was having stomach upset. I was hearing noises and I came out to the sitting room and saw some men with knives. They wanted to stab me but they later forced me to go outside. Coming outside I saw where they tied my husband and other two guys.
“My children were crying inside and I was shouting, telling them to allow me to go inside and pick my children. They refuse, saying I was not going anywhere. One of them told the other that they should allow me go and carry my baby inside. They allowed me to go inside and carry my baby.
“The bandits were asking us if our neighbours were inside and we said we were not aware. They threatened us, saying if they should enter inside their rooms and see anybody, they were going to kill us outside. They broke their door and brought all of them outside. They asked me to go inside, and they went away with six of them, one man with his two sons, my husband and two other guys. I am not familiar with the language they were speaking but it sounded like Fulani and Hausa.”
Another breast feeding mother whose husband, Pharmacist Mr Chinedu, was kidnapped also told our correspondents that they came shooting and breaking the window, threatening to kill everybody.
“After successfully breaking through the fence, they asked us to open the door or they will kill us if they gain entrance. So we opened the door, and they took me and my husband away, but I was let off the hook when they heard the cry of my baby, and I told them I am a nursing mother.
An elderly woman who confirmed that she is hypertensive said her husband, two of her sons and herself were taken away but she and another hypertensive woman were allowed to go when she fainted along the way.
Also, a legal practitioner who was one of those who hid himself in one of their rooms after the bandits broke into their house said, “I discovered that there was an attack at about 11:20pm on Wednesday when I heard gunshots. I first heard the first gunshot, the second, third and on hearing the fourth they started shaking our gate but couldn’t gain entrance.
“They broke the wall and entered our compound; then my wife and I had to run for safety. We hid in our bedroom; they broke my burglary and entered into my sitting room, kitchen and the other bedroom. They tried opening the bedroom where my wife and I were hiding but they couldn’t open it because I locked it with a key. They destroyed it but yet they couldn’t enter.
“They took my neighbor, Mr Samson. We have four flats in our compound but they invaded only 2 flats. The bandits were speaking mainly Fulani language. They are Fulanis; they also speak a little of Hausa language”.
Bandits Demand N180m Ransom
A family source confirmed that the bandits have reached out to him demanding for a ransom of 20 million naira each as condition for the release of the nine persons they abducted.
Meanwhile, youths in large numbers took to the Sabon Tasha Kachia road in protest of the continued killings and abductions of their people.
The protesting youths blocked the road with various items causing a traffic jam.
As of the time of filing this report, the youths were still protesting, as they refused to listen to appeals from security personnel.
When the state Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO), ASP Mohammed Jalige, was contacted, he said he was in a meeting and promised to get back but failed to do so as at the time of filing this report.
We Are Now Living In Fear – Residents
Following the abduction of 121 Bethel Baptist school children and others in communities surrounding Kaduna metropolis by bandits, residents of Maraban Rido, Juji, Gonigora and other vulnerable areas said they are living in fear.
They called on security agencies to deploy more security personnel in strategic locations for any eventuality.
Our correspondent who went round some neighbouring Kaduna communities reports that after the latest abduction of some residents in Sabon Tasha area and students, residents of the area have expressed concern over the safety of their communities.
A resident in Juji village, Richard Mark Atim, said, “Many of us don’t sleep again because of fear of the unknown. Bandits have no mercy for anybody. We are living in fear now. Government and security agencies are doing their best but it is not enough. Local JTF alone cannot tackle bandits when they strike communities. With the hardship we are facing, what do the bandits want us to do?”
At Maraban Rido, one of the residents, Ishaku Bala, called for the deployment of more security operatives in areas under security threat.
He said, “We can’t sleep with our two eyes closed again in this Kaduna town. Now it has become a daily occurrence. Almost every day now we hear of kidnapping here and there. Many are relocating to other cities and states as a result of insecurity. The insecurity is all over the country but the recent happenings in Kaduna are getting out of hand.”
However, some government and security officials who pleaded anonymity urged residents to stay calm as there was no cause for alarm.
They insisted that the bandits and kidnappers who are attempting to penetrate Kaduna metropolis will not succeed.
Terrorists Kill Policeman, Abduct Travellers In Borno
Meanwhile, a policeman attached to the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) was yesterday killed by suspected Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists who attacked a convoy of travellers and abducted an unspecified number of persons along Maiduguri -Damaturu highway.
The RRS is a special unit mobilised by the Borno State comprising detachments of police, civilian joint task force (CJTF), vigilantes and hunters.
Confirming the attack, the district head of Auno, Alhaji ABBA Umar ABBA Anas, said the incident occurred in the early hours of yesterday.
He noted that the terrorists attacked the police team on patrol before abducting unspecified number of travellers.
Anas added that a military convoy that rushed for reinforcement after a distress call had collusion with another vehicle on the road resulting in a fatal accident.
Although the district head could not confirm if there were casualties, LEADERSHIP was able to get a video of the accident which occurred before stranded passengers on the road.
“Today in the morning, the terrorists attacked a convoy of travellers and in the process killed one of the policemen on patrol. The attack occurred between Auno and Jakana along the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway. It was reported that the terrorists went away with some travellers,” the district head said.
A Senior Commander in the RRS confirmed the killing of the police personnel, but when contacted for more clarification, the Borno State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Edet Okon, said he had no knowledge of the attack.
Our correspondent reports that the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway has for long become a goldmine to the terrorists who take advantage of the economic importance of the route to kill, destroy properties and make money through ransom from kidnapped victims.
76,000 Nigerians Killed In 10 Years
Meanwhile, governors of the 36 states of the federation under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) have disclosed that between May 2011 and February 2021 over 76,000 people died in Nigeria due to violence and conflicts.
The governors spoke yesterday at the launch of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Peace and Inclusive Security Initiative (PISI) in Abuja.
The chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, blamed the situation on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, saying it worsened and exacerbated the level of violence and fatalities.
He said, “Between May 2011 and February 2021, over 76,000 deaths were reported. This number also includes persons who have been killed by state actors
“In addition to the proliferation of arms is an undertone of rising ethnic conflict, with different ethnic groups subsumed in conflicts and pitted against one another.
He also stated the level of insecurity across parts of the country is not only eroding citizens’ safety and people’s means of livelihood, but also threatening the expression of the rights of all Nigerians.
Fayemi said the spate of violence and coordinated criminal activities had undermined government authority and caused public trust to wane in recent times.
He attributed the current security crisis in the country to several factors which include “an oversized population that the government is unable to cope with; a large number of poor people estimated at over 40 per cent of the population who are living below $1 per day, and, indeed, desertification which has affected over 60 per cent of Nigeria’s land, as drought and climate change has continued to aggravate land deterioration in the country.”
On his part, former head of state and chairman of National Peace Committee, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), expressed worry over what he called the ‘instrumentalisation’ of violence.
According to him, violence has become a commodity in Nigeria.
Abubakar, who was represented by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah, said Nigerians are in denial of the diagnosis.
He contended that poverty is not the cause of violence in Nigeria, arguing that China has about 300 million unemployed citizens.
LEADERSHIP recalls that three months ago, General Abdulsalami had raised the alarm that Nigeria was awash with about six million illegal arms, saying it was a key factor in the rising spate of violence and violent conflicts in the country which had led to 80, 000 deaths and displacement of three million others from their homes.
Also, the British government warned that the rise in conflicts can destabilise Nigeria’s democracy in the run-up to the 2023 elections.
Development director, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Chris Beecroft, in his goodwill message, blamed the frequent crisis across the country on injustice and impunity, as well as weak justice institutions in the country.
He, however, noted that peace and stability could be achieved when the causes of conflict in the society are managed through strong, fair, and responsive governance mechanisms at community, state or federal level.
Beecroft stressed that the conflicts pose a threat to Nigeria’s existence, unity and its development.
“The rise in conflict risks destabilising Nigeria’s democracy in the run-up to the 2023 elections. There is an active insurgency in the North East; farmer-herder conflicts are extending across the country; resource conflicts in the Delta; tension in the South East, and banditry in the North West.
“Conflict destroys lives, destroys livelihoods, and destroys hope and ambition for the future. Conflict represents an existential threat to Nigeria’s unity and its development.”
Beecroft explained that the use of the police and army would only be part of the solution, and called for greater emphasis “on reconciliation, mediation, arbitration, and access to justice – all vital components of a vibrant, resilient, and effective social contract.”
According to him, proliferation of small arms and weapons and the weaponization of social media are drivers of conflict and instability.
He called for job creation for young Nigerians so they have a stake in a prosperous and peaceful Nigeria, adding that with the right commitment, dedications and support, there are solutions.
Beecroft stated that the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office recognised the important role the NGF played in setting the peace and security agenda, and in building state and community level structures and institutions to reduce violence and respond to conflict and insecurity across Nigeria.
“The UK is pleased to have been able to support this initiative and is committed to continue working with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in advancing its peace and security agenda.
“The UK is engaged in supporting Nigeria to reduce violent conflicts in a number of areas. We promote a regional response in the North East and Lake Chad Basin through our contribution to the Regional Stabilisation Facility (RSF) and delivery of programmes on peace building, humanitarian assistance, protection of civilians, human development, good governance and accountability.”
NGF’s director-general, Asishana Okauru, explained that the launch was a significant step in the life of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum as “we strive to build a nation where safety of lives and property is guaranteed.
“The Peace and Inclusive Security Initiative is a consequence of our determination to contribute to the conversation on inclusive security and add the leverage of the sub-nationals to the efforts to secure the lives and property of our country men and women.
“With the support of the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), we have been able to set up the Peace and Security Desk at the NGF to help in driving the dialogue around keeping the country safe and bringing all state and non-state actors together around one table to frame a sustainable resolution to the series of security challenges confronting our national experiment.”