There is a serious setback to commercial activities in Sokoto State following the recent attacks on weekly markets, which claimed many lives.
About 100 traders and their customers were killed in two major markets in the eastern part of the state between October 8 and 18 while several others were injured.
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The bandits also looted goods worth millions of naira from the two attacks.
Daily Trust learnt that traders were afraid of taking their goods to such weekly markets since the Goronyo attack, which claimed the lives of over 40 traders and their customers last Sunday.
The attack came 10 days after bandits invaded the Unguwan Lalle weekly market and killed 22 traders.
According to eyewitness accounts, the attackers came from Gundumi forest, which is just few kilometers away from Goronyo, on over 100 motorcycles.
Another account said the attackers, who wore military and vigilante uniforms, surrounded the market and shot at any living thing.
It was said that they stormed the market around 4pm and operated till 6pm. While some eyewitnesses put the number of dead victims at 30, others said it was 60.
The state government confirmed 43 dead, but a survivor of the attack, Malam Aliyu, said they counted 47 bodies in a local hospital.
The chairman of the local government area, Abdulwahab Yahya Goronyo, said another 16 persons were receiving treatment in a hospital.
It was reported that bandits operating along the Sabon Birni-Isa axis claimed responsibility for the attack.
One of the bandits, Shehu Rekeb, disclosed that the attack was carried out to avenge the killing of “innocent Fulani” in the area.
“We heard that those who attacked Goronyo are being described as criminals. They were not. The people of Goronyo have killed so many people, so they would have to be attacked and killed.
“When those people (Fulani) were killed, President Muhammadu Buhari did not say anything, but he is now coming out to react to this one,” he said.
A resident had earlier told reporters that, “The recent attack could be a misplaced reprisal by ‘Yan Sakai’ because of the recent killing of 11 herders in Mamande market in Gwadabawa Local Government Area.
“This outlawed group is arresting and killing Fulani men unjustifiably.”
Daily Trust reports that activities of the Yan Sakai, an informal group of people, have played a significant role in worsening the security situation in Sokoto and Zamfara states. They reportedly engage in ethnic profiling and killing.
“Going by the way it was done, I believe the attack was jointly carried out by different groups of bandits. One group cannot carry out such attack,” the resident added.
How we survived – Victims
Narrating his ordeal to Daily Trust, Malam Aliyu, a revenue collector in the area, who was recuperating at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto from the gunshot injuries he sustained during the attack, said five persons, including children, were killed in his presence.
“I was returning from the local government secretariat after remitting my daily collection when I saw people running helter-skelter.
“When I realised what was happening, I ran into one shop, where we locked ourselves. We were about 15 in the shop.
“I saw the bandits killing some traders who hid inside a tarpaulin. After that, they proceeded to the shop where we were hiding, broke the door and starting firing at us.
“I got gunshots on my hand and the left side of my head. Thank God the bullet only brushed my head, but two children who were beside me did not survive the attack. There was a woman whose stomach was pierced; she is here with us.
“Five of our bidding mates died instantly and those with gunshot injuries were brought to the hospital for treatment.
“At the Goronyo hospital, where we were initially taken to, we counted 47 dead bodies and many injured people,” he narrated.
Another victim, Sani Ya’u, a physically challenged resident of the community, who sustained five gunshot injuries on his buttocks, left hand and his only leg, said he was at the market to board a truck going to Ado Ekiti in Ekiti State, where he begged for alms.
He said, “I was sitting and waiting for the truck to be loaded when the marauders came, shooting sporadically. As I made an attempt to grab my crutches, one of the bandits shot me in the leg, buttocks and hand; and I fainted.”
Also, Malam Nuhu Isa, who was shot on his shoulder, said he was at the market to search for his only son after hearing about the attack.
“As I was going, I ran into some of the attackers, and while trying to escape, they shot at me.
“A member of the vigilante group took me to the hospital, but the bandits came after us, firing into the facility. I and the vigilante hid in the toilet until they left the place. It was the work of God that we survived it,” he said.
He said the child he went to look for later returned home unhurt.
Furthermore, Yunusa Sani, a 10-year-old sachet water hawker, who also survived the attack but sustained gunshot injury on his stomach, said he would have left the market earlier if he knew that the bandits were coming.
Saratu Hassan, who was also shot on the shoulder, said she was returning home from the market when a bullet hit him.
The chairman of the Sokoto Traders Association, Alhaji Chika Sarkin Gishiri, said that due to incessant attacks by bandits, commercial activities had been grounded in the state.
“Our members are now avoiding weekly markets for fear of being attacked. Traders in the rural areas are out of business, having lost their goods to banditry,” he said.
He said the popular Achida cattle and grains market, which holds every Wednesday, witnessed low turnout this week because traders and buyers were afraid of bandits.
He appealed to the state government to provide adequate security in the markets to forestall future attack.
Gishiri could not give the exact number of their members killed in the attack, saying, “Some of our members are still missing.”
We’re Touched, Grieved By Goronyo Bandits Attacks”- Tambuwal
Meanwhile, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who led the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar and members of his cabinet to the community on a condolence visit, expressed sadness over the incident, saying, “This attack in Goronyo really touched us. We grieve the loss of the departed souls. It is really disheartening. Without doubt, it is no small loss for us, the people of Goronyo, the state and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We sincerely sympathise and commiserate with those who lost their beloved ones. May Allah grant eternal rest to the deceased.
“For those who suffered various degrees of injury, we pray to Allah to grant them recovery and good health.
“We also call on the people of the state to continue to cooperate with security agents. Be rest assured that the state is working closely with the federal government to ensure that peace returns to the troubled areas of the state, especially in the eastern axis.
“Equally, all the measures put in place thus far to check insecurity will continue.
“I call on all of us to continue to pray fervently and exercise patience. Certainly, with your cooperation, we will succeed in eradicating this menace.
“I admonish you all to avoid taking laws into your hands. Whatever happens, we should cooperate with law enforcement agents to tackle it.”
Security challenges surmountable –Sultan
Sultan Abubakar has said the current security challenges in the country are surmountable.
Speaking while receiving the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant-General Farauk Yahaya in his palace, the monarch said, “We know the magnitude of the challenge, but we have confidence in you.
“We assure the military of our total commitment and support. The challenges are not insurmountable. If we come together we will resolve this issue. And when you overcome a challenge you become a better person.”
Responding, Lieutenant-General Yahaya said they were in Sokoto to interact with troops and have firsthand information about their operations.
“We also engage with the governor and other stakeholders because these criminals are not from the moon. Nobody can collect ransom and take it to the mountain.
“We succeeded in killing and arresting many of them. And we are surprised to see some of the people involved,” he said.