The relative peace being enjoyed in some communities was again shattered on Saturday the 3rd of June when bandits pounced on the agrarian communities of Raka, Raka-Dutse and Filingawa in Tangaza Local Government Area of Sokoto State. Similar attacks were also carried out on some communities in Zamfara State.
Narrating their ordeal in a report carried by this paper, the immediate past chairman of Tangaza Local Government Council, Bashar Kalenjeni, said 18 people were killed at Raka, 17 at Filingawa and two at Raka Dutse. He said several villagers sustained gunshot injuries; while many others were still missing. He said the assailants disrupted the burial initially planned for Saturday night (June 3rd).
“We wanted to bury them in the night, but the bandits came back and dispersed us. As of this morning (Sunday, June 4th), the deceased are still there unburied,” Kalenjeni said, He said before the attack, the villagers had refused to pay the levies imposed on their communities by the bandits.
“The bandits imposed levies on their communities which were meant to take immediate effect, and also dictating to residents on what to and not to do. But the villagers refused to succumb and because of that, they attacked them, killing 37 persons; while several others sustained various degrees of gunshot injuries and currently receiving treatment at General Hospital, Gwadabawa, the victims were buried around 3pm, June 4th after security operatives were deployed to the area,” he said.
The Zamfara bandits on the other hand attacked two villages in Maradun Local Government Area of the state and left at least 25 people dead. The attacks were launched barely one week after more than 25 people, including 16 vigilantes, were killed by bandits in Kanoma district in Maru Local Government Area.
Residents told Daily Trust that the armed criminals invaded Janbako village on Saturday and shot dead more than 20 people. The bandits, according to the locals, later moved to Sakkida village where they also killed five persons. “They arrived at the village on motorbikes around 2pm and opened fire on the residents. The highly frightened residents scrambled into their houses for safety,” a resident said.
Earlier before the Zamfara and Sokoto attacks, similar barbaric killings had taken place in various states of Benue, Plateau and Kaduna states. In Benue over 40 people were killed, including women and children in Mbakange community, Mbacher district of Katsina-Ala LGA. On the 3rd of June, Iye Village of Guma LGA was visited with 18 deaths by the bandits.
Thirteen farmers were killed in Kusherki community in Rafi LGA of Niger State on the 7th of this month, 12 were again killed in Gidigori community of the same LG. It is clear that the people in these areas are no longer living a normal life. For example, they cannot go to their farms or to the markets or travel in safety, which means that agricultural and economic activities are crippled.
These are a fraction of episodes of mass murder that have occurred in Nigeria, especially in the North West and North Central states, since the inauguration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Now is the time for the president to assert himself as the chief security officer of the country by reviewing the security architecture as he had promised during his meeting with the nation’s top security chiefs because in our view, the bandits have dared the state and its security apparatus.
Indeed since inauguration, the president has been pursuing groundbreaking policies in other areas in the country, but we urge him to also focus his attention on the issue of insecurity.
The president and the governors should stand up and face this monster headlong by prioritizing security as the number one on their agenda. The governors concerned should team up to end this security challenge that is consuming the lives of their citizens on a daily basis. Advisably, they should jointly sponsor a military effort to uproot the bandits. As the bandits are chased from one state, they simply migrate to a nearby state, so the security agencies should be mindful of that and collaborate more to tackle this menace.
Furthermore, we challenge the federal government to take more decisive steps on the dangerous escalation of rural banditry across the country. Increasingly our rural areas, which used to be known for peace and tranquillity, have become territories where criminals peddle their trade without fear of arrest and punishment.
The government must devise a new security strategy for our rural areas to ensure that those who live there can engage in their legitimate economic activities and live their social lives without the fear of being hounded to early graves by robbers, bandits, kidnappers and other bloodthirsty criminals. These issues have been here for too long and have caused irreparable damage. The time to stop them is now.