The security of life and property in Nigeria took another heavy hit last weekend as bandits dispatched 52 people to early graves in Katsina, Oyo and Zamfara states, in addition to burning down a palace and a fuel station.
The outlaws also kidnapped a monarch and his two wives in Zungeru, Niger State.
There were heavy casualties in Oyo State as no fewer than 20 people were reportedly killed in Igangan, one of the towns in Ibarapa North Local Government Area, as gunmen suspected to be bandits invaded and unleashed mayhem in the community on Saturday night.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the palace of the Asigangan of Igangan land, Oba Adewuyi Olaoye, as well as a popular petrol station were not spared as they were razed by the suspected bandits numbering 50, who were said to have invaded the town around 11 pm riding on more than 20 motorcycles.
It was gathered that many vehicles were burnt, including a truck loaded with cassava flour.
This attack occurred a few days after the chairman of Oyo State Security Network, code-named Amotekun Corps, General Kunle Togun (rtd) alleged that foreign Fulani had encamped in the entire Southwest region and may strike if nothing was done urgently.
A former caretaker chairman of the council, Tunji Omolewu, who confirmed last night’s incident to newsmen, said he had to rush down at about 5am yesterday to see things for himself.
“People had barely retired to bed when they said they sighted motorcycles entering the town. Before our people could know what was going on, they had started killing people. I got the call around 11 pm. We were on our way from Ekiti where we had gone to do the Yoruba nation rally.
‘’I got to Ibadan around 12am and when the calls did not stop coming, I decided to come home. I have counted more than 20 dead bodies. The palace of our monarch was torched. Adolak filling station, too, was burnt. We are assembled here…” he said, almost breaking down in tears.
A former caretaker chairman of neighbouring Ibarapa Central, Yemi Akinlabi, who was holidaying in the United States, said his phone was bombarded with calls.
Also in Katsina State, bandits attacked Kanawa and Runka villages of Damusa Local Government Area of Katsina State, killing six people.
A source in Safana disclosed that the attackers, numbering about 60 and riding on motorcycles invaded the two villages on Saturday evening around 6:30pm, carrying away some domestic animals.
“When we heard the roar of their motorcycles, we all dispersed into the bush but they chased some of us and gunned down six and injured others.
“As I speak with you now (Sunday morning), we have just finished the burial of the six persons killed and three more have sustained serious injuries.
“One is receiving medical care in Katsina and two others at Danmusa hospital,” he said.
The state police spokesperson, SP Gambo Isah, confirmed the incident, saying he was briefed by the DPO of Danmusa about the attack.
5 killed, Churches Shut As Police, Gunmen Clash In Imo
In Imo State, the police command yesterday repelled an attempt by hoodlums to attack the command’s headquarters in Owerri, killing five of the suspected attackers in a gun battle.
The command also said it had begun an investigation into circumstances surrounding the death of German returnee, Oguchi Unachukwu, who was murdered on May 31 in Imo.
The commissioner of police in Imo, CP Abutu Yaro confirmed the failed attack in a statement issued by the command’s spokesman, SP Bala Elkana.
The release stated that gallant officers killed five of the hoodlums during the crossfire, while others fled with bullet injuries.
“Hoodlums masquerading as unknown gunmen attempted an attack on the police headquarters this morning but suffered a huge defeat.
“They made efforts to access the police headquarters through the Works Layout around AIvan Nursery and Primary School but were vehemently repelled.
“They came in a white Hummer Bus, five of the hoodlums were killed during an exchange of fire and others were injured.
“The Hummer bus was recovered with four Ak47 rifles previously stolen from the police during a recent attack on its station, while officers have been deployed to apprehend the fleeing hoodlums.”
On Unachukwu’s death, the police commissioner said the command would unravel circumstances leading to the death.
Unachukwu was shot dead on his way to the Sam Mbakwe Airport to catch a flight back to Germany.
He was allegedly murdered in front of his wife and two children by men in a military uniform.
The CP vowed to stop at nothing to unravel the incident.
Meanwhile, gunmen have razed the country home of Imo State commissioner for information and strategy, Hon. Declan Emelumba.
Emelumba is from Oru East local government area.
According to an eyewitness account, the gunmen stormed the commissioner’s Ubulu-Ihejiofor community in Oru West local government area yesterday and set the two houses in his compound on fire.
The account stated that sporadic shooting was recorded in the peaceful community as villagers fled into the bush.
Hon Emelumba confirmed the incident to callers and empathizers.
“In the early hours of today (Sunday) between 1am and 2am, some people called me from the village (to say) that heavily armed gunmen stormed my compound, broke the gate and set the buildings ablaze.
“My gateman, who was the only person around when the gunmen came, managed to escape unhurt but the bandits had easy access to the building and completely burnt down everything,” he said.
NSA Orders Crackdown On Illegal Security Outfits
Meanwhile, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) has directed a crackdown on all illegal security organisations and also declared NATFORCE an illegal outfit.
In a statement issued by the head of strategic communications, Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Zakari Usman, he directed the immediate dismantling of all illegal security organisations.
He accused them of extortion, harassment and intimidation of Nigerians.
Usman said: “In particular, the office has cautioned individuals, organisations and foreign partners on the activities of NATFORCE which was illegally formed as a taskforce to combat illegal importation and smuggling of small arms, ammunition and light weapons into Nigeria.”
He said the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) domiciled in the Office of the National Security Adviser is the national coordination mechanism for the control and monitoring of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the country.
Usman said the office of the NSA had observed with concern the proliferation of illegal security outfits in the country.
According to him, “These illegal outfits have been masquerading and acting as part of the Nigerian security architecture while extorting, harassing and intimidating Nigerians.
“One of such groups is NATFORCE which seeks to combat illegal importation of arms, ammunition, light weapons, chemical weapons and pipeline vandalism and has been involved in mounting illegal roadblocks, conducting illegal searches, seizures and recruitment.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the general public and all stakeholders are to note that NATFORCE is an illegal outfit without any mandate or authority to carry out these functions,” he said.
“This trend is unacceptable and the promoters of NATFORCE are warned to dismantle their structures and operations immediately.”
He said the setting up of the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons on May 3, 2021, marked the beginning of the process for the full implementation of Article 24 of the ECOWAS Convention on small arms and light weapons.
He, therefore, called on national and international stakeholders to work closely with the Centre to strengthen government-civil society initiatives.
Bandits Abduct Traditional Leader, 2 Wives In Niger
Bandits have abducted the community head of the first capital city of Northern Nigeria, Zungeru, Al Mustapha Madaki, and his two wives yesterday morning.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the bandits, numbering about 20, came to the house armed with AK 47rifles and forced their way into his compound, abducting only three of them.
It was learnt that the attack took place about 1:20am when the people in the ancient city hosting the state polytechnic were deep asleep.
After abducting the victims, the bandits began to shoot at random to scare the villagers and a few policemen at the police station in the town.
A resident of Zungeru who witnessed the abduction told LEADERSHIP that “the bandits took the by-pass adjoining the highway linking Minna to Tegina in front of the only police station in the town, shooting randomly into the air.”
The chairman, Zungeru Community Development Association, Alhaji Salman Yusuf, confirmed the incident to LEADERSHIP, saying that the situation had created fears and panic in the usually peaceful ancient city.
He noted that the entire Wushishi local government area has come under attacks recently, including villages around Zungeru, but that nobody thought they would enter Zungeru.
He, therefore, called on security agencies to urgently take practical steps to rescue all those abducted.
The police command’s spokesman Wasiu Abiodun could not be reached as he did not pick his call.
Bandit Kill Many In Zamfara villages
In Zamfara State, the police command yesterday confirmed that bandits had attacked several communities in Bungudu local government area, killings numerous villagers.
Reports say about 26 people were slain as the gunmen raised some villages.
Spokesman of the command, SP Muhammad Shehu, said armed men in their large numbers stormed Tofa and Samawa village in Bungudu local government area carrying sophisticated arms and shooting sporadically at the villagers, leading to the death of a number of villagers.
He said the police tactical operatives were not alerted until after the bandits had finished their onslaught on Tofa community, but that as the bandits left Tofa on their way to Samawa village for another attack, Police Tactical operatives stationed at Samawa village were quickly alerted and they engaged the assailants in a gun battle that lasted for hours.
As a result of the encounter, he said, an unspecified number of bandits were fatally injured, while others escaped with bullet wounds.
He reported that no one was killed in Samawa community but that a police operative paid the supreme price during the shootout.
According to him, the commissioner of police, CP Hussaini Rabiu had condoled with the families of the deceased and directed the immediate deployment of additional Police Tactical operatives to the affected villages to complement the ongoing efforts of safeguarding the lives of the citizens.
He urged the communities to always tell security agencies about the movement of criminal elements to enable them to be battle ready, just as he assured them that the police would fish out the perpetrators of the crime.