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Fear grips Balle community over murder of district head

There is palpable tension in Sokoto, following the killing of the district head of Balle, Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim.The bandits had arrived Balle town on 9…

There is palpable tension in Sokoto, following the killing of the district head of Balle, Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim.The bandits had arrived Balle town on 9 motorcycles about 3:30pm on Tuesday, heavily armed. Residents told Daily Trust on Sunday that they carried out their mission without any challenge.

They reportedly entered the town from the eastern part and started shooting sporadically at a poultry centre where a team of security operatives were camped. According to a witnesses, they killed one of the security men while others scampered for safety.

“They all removed their cloths to hide their identities from the attackers and ran for safety. From the mobile police outpost, they proceeded to the Balle police station where they torched two vehicles and riddled the armoury section with bullets, but could not gain entry as it remained secured. From the police station they went straight to the district head’s residence and shot him,’’ one of the residents said.”

The village head of Balle (Magajin Balle), Alhaji Muhammadu Ilyasu, who is a nephew to the deceased, gave a vivid account of how his uncle was killed.

“They killed the district head in his living room and in the presence of his senior wife, who pleaded with them to take money and spare his life or even take her own life instead. Her plea fell on deaf ears as they made the district head sit up from where he was lying down (he was ill) and shot him at a close range on his forehead and face.

“I went to his house that morning, around 11am and met him lying down. I greeted him and he responded by thanking me for the visit. That was the last I saw of my brother,” he narrated.

The other wife of the deceased was said to be at a hospital when she heard the news.

Some residents of the community who came in contact with the bandits on that fateful day disclosed that they advised people not to panic as they did not mean any harm.

A staff of Gudu Local Government, whose house is close to that of the district head, said even his little son who was sent to fetch water encountered them.

“He was frightened and fell down as he tried to run, but they calmed him down and told him not to panic so that he would not hurt himself.”

Magajin Balle, who encountered four of them on his way to take his family to safety, said they were all masked in white turban. He said they told him not to be afraid and advised him to take cover.

It was learnt that after they killed the district head of Balle, they left through the Deji village route.

Daily Trust on Sunday observed that out of fear, people sat in groups at every available tree shade, away from the scorching sun, to discuss the situation.

From the neighbouring Tangaza town to Balle, there was an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear.

However, there was the presence of security checkpoints at strategic points along the Tangaza- Balle road. Despite the checkpoints, however, a commercial driver said there had been a series of armed robbery incidents along Tangaza-Balle road, with most attacks on people in poultry business.

“Our people from Nigeria who deal in poultry goods take them to Niger Republic and robbers attack them on a weekly basis and collect money from them,” the driver said.

Many people who spoke to our correspondent alleged that the killers of the district head were from Zamfara, and that they had reared cattle at Balle area.

The deceased district head was turbaned on February 8, 2001. His reign was noted to have witnessed improved township roads, upgrade of Balle Medical Centre to a General Hospital, and recently, the establishment of the state-of-art Government Secondary School, Balle by the administration of Governor Aminu Tambuwal.

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