The persistent attacks and killings by bandits, killer-herdsmen and kidnappers of Nigerians, with a new twist being the shooting down of a Nigeria Air Force fighter jet, have led some northern groups to call on President Muhmmadu Buhari to declare the perpetrators as terrorists.
Nigeria has been witnessing unrelenting attacks on communities, schools and individuals, leading to the kidnapping and killing of thousands of Nigerians, with Zamfara and Kaduna in the North West zone, and Niger and Benue states in the North Central being the most badly affected, in addition to the destruction of properties and farmlands.
This is aside the counter-terrorism war being fought in the North East against Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists by the security agencies.
In the crises-torn southern part of Kaduna State, a socio-political group, the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) urged the federal government to immediately declare bandits, armed herdsmen and kidnappers as terrorists following their devastating activities of killing and destroying properties across the country.
The union’s president, Jonathan Asake, who made this call at a press conference in Kaduna, said the activities of bandits had taken a more worrisome state with the destruction of farmlands.
“We call on the federal government to immediately declare these armed Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers, bandits, or whatever name they parade, as terrorists,” he said.
SOKAPU said there seems to be a recurring vicious cycle of violence meted out on their communities that always coincides with the commencement of the rainy season which has often culminated in massive destruction of lives and property, including displacement of thousands of people.
The union recalled that “last year (2020) when the rainy season commenced in May, there were massive onslaughts of genocidal proportions across Southern Kaduna communities, particularly in Chikun, Kajuru, Kachia, Kaura, Kauru, Sanga, Jema’a and Zangon Kataf LGAs. These assaults left in their trail death, destruction and displacements, with a huge humanitarian crisis.
“Again, this year, with the commencement of another rainy season, the onslaughts have resumed which coincide with the period when our farming communities need to be on their farms. With particular reference are the recent attacks on communities in Zangon Kataf local government areas where no fewer than 100 persons have been massacred within seven days, 12 villages completely decimated and over 90 percent of Atyap land deserted by inhabitants over fears of uncertainty.
“It is sadly unbelievable that 10 days after these massacres and displacement in our communities, from all observable indices, there appears to be a conspiracy of silence or a deliberate attempt by the government to downplay the severity of the atrocities and genocides being perpetrated by these attackers across our communities.
“In conclusion, whoever comes to our communities, either as individuals or groups, to kill, maim, rape, destroy and displace our people and take over our homelands, no matter how long it takes, every square inch of our lands will be recovered by our generation or future generations,” he said.
Another northern group, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), through its spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, concurs that those who terrorise people should be properly designated.
“As far as the CNG and, I think, any decent organisation should be concerned, even without saying it, bandits and kidnappers are terrorists. Unless the label means anything else, but they are terrorist outfits.
“But if labelling them officially as terrorists would change the situation, it should be welcome. And I don’t think even the kidnappers and bandits see themselves as anything but terrorist. We place so much emphasis on name tags and not the essence of issues.
“By whatever name it is called, they are all acts of criminality that must not be condoned by society”.
The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has also called on the Buhari administration to declare killer-herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers as terrorists.
According to the MBF, the herdsmen pressure group, Miyetti Allah, should also be proscribed because its leaders had own up to the killings in several states of the region.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP last night, the president of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr Bitrus Pogu said the government must stop its grandstanding and declare the killer-herdsmen terrorists, adding that their activities have brought hardship to the people of the region, in addition to impending hunger ahead since famers can no longer go to the farm for fear of being attacked.
“There is a double standard where you proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group but leave out killer-herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers.
“The agitation for Biafra is as result of what the people describe as injustice. If the country is working well, who will think about separating? The herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers have been carrying out their activities unchecked. They kill, rape women and collect ransom at the same time. They have not been proscribed. Even when their leaders, Miyetti Allah, said they do that because their cattle were rustled, no one has arrested them. No one has have invited them for questioning.
“The call by our ethnic groups for killer-herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers to be declared terrorists is in order. What we are saying is that the government should not just declare the killer- herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers terrorists, but the government should go a step further to inve
stigate leaders of Miyetti Allah who are backing these terrorists, ” Pogu said.
According to the Middle Belt Forum’s president, the government must stop its double standards and address the issue, adding that if communities begin to mobilise themselves against the killers, things might become worse.
“A killer is a killer, whether a herdsman or whatever name he or she is called. If the government does not declare these killer-herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers terrorists and stem their activities, communities will begin to mobilise themselves.”
He lamented that distressed called are not being responded to in timely fashion to rescue communities under the attack of bandits.
“If an attack is taking place, residents will call the security agencies, no one will show up until after the damage had been done. The bandits, the killer-herdsmen and the kidnappers have been carrying out their deadly activities unchecked. No one has declared them terrorists. There is trouble ahead because from all indications, the bubble will burst if everyone in every community moves against these killers. Everyone will be in for it.
“Since the responsibility of government is to ensure peace and security, the government must rise up and declare these people terrorists. Their activities must be checked now,” Pogu added.
The apex sociocultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), through its national publicity secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, said bandits and kidnappers’ activities are terrorist in nature but “because they are not coordinated as a group and amorphous in nature, it will be difficult for government to classify them as terrorists like the Boko Haram and Independent People of Biafra (IPOB).
“They are criminals terrorising people but the problem of calling them a terrorist group is because they are not organized; they are just scattered around.
“Organised groups like Boko Haram and IPOB can be branded terrorists, but when a group is not coordinated and carries out sporadic attacks, it becomes very difficult for government to call them terrorists.
“What the bandits are doing is criminal but they are all scattered everywhere, but their acts are terrorist acts,” he contended.
We Have No Connection With Killer-Herdsmen, Bandits – Miyetti Allah
Meanwhile, a socio-cultural groups of all Fulani in Nigeria, the Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore, has said that the group has no relationship with killer-herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers.
Miyetti Allah said it should not be linked to such criminal groups, adding that it does not to complain whenever such people are killed.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP last night, national secretary of Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore, Sele Alhassan, said their group does not cry whenever bandits are killed.
“We don’t have relationship with bandits. We don’t have relationship with killer-herdsmen. We don’t cry whenever bandits are killed. So, we should not be linked to such people,” Alhassan said.
On the call by the Middle Belt Forum for the Miyetti Allah to be proscribed and its leaders investigated, Alhassan said all the champions of the Middle Belt had fizzled out, even as he urge them to address challenges rather than make baseless claims.
“Middle Belt is a group that has no base. Middle Belt of what? They are politically and culturally confused.
“If they have any case against anyone, they should go to court. They can go to the international court. We have criminals in every part of the country. We don’t support killers. One emir was making claims because the government wanted to recover all grazing lands. Let him touch an innocent Fulani man; the security agencies will go after him, ” Alhassan added.
Gunmen Kill 4 Policemen, Monarch, 13 Others In Benue, Enugu, Nasarawa
Operatives of the Enugu State Police Command have left checkpoints in the state following a deadly attack on their colleagues at a post in Obeagu-Amechi community in Enugu South local government area by gunmen.
The police spokesman, Daniel Ndukwe, confirmed the attack on the operatives but said information on the shooting incident was still sketchy.
Although he was silent on the number of policemen who died or sustained injuries, sources said lifeless bodies of four policemen were seen at the scene of the attack
It was also gathered that some passers-by were allegedly shot dead during the attack.
After carrying out the attack, the gunmen seized a police patrol van and set it ablaze before fleeing.
Sources also disclosed that the unknown gunmen were later ambushed by some policemen, but it was not clear the number of casualties on the side of the yet-to-be identified gunmen.
Reacting to the attack, Ndukwe said, “Information surrounding the shooting incidents in the evening hours of today (Wednesday) where police operatives were allegedly attacked by yet-to-be-identified gunmen at checkpoints in Obeagu-Amechi in Enugu South LGA and Amagunze in Nkanu East LGA are still sketchy.”
He said preliminary investigations had commenced, assuring that further developments will be communicated to the public.
Sources told our correspondent that the attack lasted for more than three hours at a busy spot at Mmiri Ocha Amodu.
The source claimed that four policemen in uniform and a suspected cleric were among those that died during the attack, adding the remains of the officers and others had been taken to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku-Ozalla mortuary.
Also, gunmen on Wednesday night attacked a compound at Gidan Sule village along Lafia-Makurdi road in Nasarawa State, killing four persons, while three others were badly injured.
This was disclosed by the Nasarawa State Police Command and signed by its spokesman, Nansel Rahman, in Lafia yesterday.
The statement said, “On 21/7/2021 at about 2300hrs, information was received that unknown gunmen were shooting sporadically in Agwan Sule, Kadarko District of Keana local government area of the state”
“Upon receipt of the information, a detachment of police personnel comprising of Police Mobile Force, Counter Terrorism Unit, Vigilante and Hunters with support from the military were immediately deployed to the area where the attackers were repelled.
“Four corpses were recovered at the scene, while three injured victims were rescued and rushed to Odumu Hospital for medical attention. One person later died while receiving treatment at the same hospital.” he said.
According to him, the State Commissioner of Police, Bola Longe, who was recently promoted to the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police, had deployed additional Police Personnel led by Area Commander Awe, ACP Dankwano D. Wilson to go after the perpetrators of the dastardly act.
The CP, he said, condoled with the families of the deceased and assured that the Police Command was doing everything humanly possible to arrest and bring to book the perpetrators of the act.
Kidnappers Of Maritime Workers Demand N90m Ransom
Abductors of five members of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and four others along the Kula-Abonnema waterways in Rivers State have established contact with their families and are demanding the sum of N90 million as ransom for their release.
The victims, including a woman, were on their way from Kula in Degema local government area to Abonnema, headquarters of Akuku-Toru local government area when the incident occurred on Monday morning.
Speaking on a live phone-in radio programme monitored in Port Harcourt yesterday, a relative of three of the kidnap victims, Sobarasua Sokari, said the kidnappers were demanding N10 million for each of the victims.
Sokari said: “I have tried to establish contact with them and we have been talking. So, I told them that the people they are holding are hustlers (struggling) like them. There is no way they can pay ransom to them.
“They have been asking for ransom but I told them to release them unconditionally. They are demanding N10 million per person but I said no, there is no way any of them has up to N20,000 in their accounts.
“The issue is that they have nine people. So, I have been trying to talk to the families of the other six people. I have tried to talk to their relatives, brothers, sisters and so on.
“Knowing what the situation is right now, they cannot even raise up to N10,000 for their relatives to be released.
“The kidnappers told me that they are not after their lives. So, what we are praying for is for their safe release.”
Women, 2 Babies Kidnapped From Leprosy Centre Regain Freedom
Abductors of 10 staff members of National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Centre, Zaria, released three women and two of their babies on Wednesday night.
A reliable source confirmed that the victims were released after payment of random.
The source further stated that all the women were hospitalised in an undisclosed medical facility in Zaria shortly after they regained freedom.
“I even went and greeted them at the hospital, but one of the women and her baby had been discharged from the hospital when I got there.
“The rest of the two women’s condition also is improving and may soon be discharged too,” the source said
Recall that 10 staff of the centre were abducted following an attack on the medical facility and a neighbouring police station.
All efforts to contact the principal of the institute were abortive as he was not responding to calls.
Abducted Mother Released In Minna
Meanwhile the abducted 28-year-old mother of one, Sadiya Mohammad, who was taken away by suspected bandits last week Thursday in Maitumbi area of Minna the state capital has been released.
A family source confirmed to LEADERSHIP Friday that she was released early yesterday in Minna after her abductors collected N1 million.
Sadiya was abducted about noon last Thursday when she was coming back from a private school where she is a teacher.
In Benue State, members of Ochoro Community in Konshisha local government area have fled for safety as gunmen allegedly attacked the community, killing a traditional ruler, Chief Okpe Denis Ijoko, and eight other people whose corpses are yet to be recovered.
Our correspondent in a telephone interview with one of the indigenes, who is a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Benue State University, Màkurdi, Dr. John Ogi, was informed that the gunmen also burnt over 50 houses and destroyed other valuable properties worth millions of Naira.
Ogi, who claimed that the incident was an offshoot of long existing crisis between the Tiv people of Konshisha LGA and their Igede counterparts from Okpute, said he learnt that the recent crisis occurred without any provocation.
He said the slain monarch was kidnapped alongside an eight-year-old boy before he was killed by his abductors who also set his corpse ablaze and that the little boy was yet to be found.
When contacted, the chairman of Konshisha council, James Jirgba, told LEADERSHIP that even though he had heard the news, he was waiting for an official statement from the divisional police officer who, alongside his officers, had gone to assess the situation.
When contacted, the police public relations officer, Catherine Anene, sent a text message, which read, “I can’t talk now.”
The president of Igede Youths Council, Andyson Iji Egbodo, expressed shock at the recent unprovoked attack that claimed the lives of so many Igede people of Konshisha LGA and the Adirahu of Ochoro.