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Terrorism: Niger bomb blast unsettles residents, signals new trend

The February 21 bomb blast that claimed the lives of four officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Galadima-Kogo, Shiroro Local…

The February 21 bomb blast that claimed the lives of four officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Galadima-Kogo, Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, has heightened fear among communities and security personnel.

The incident has forced many locals to flee their homes, causing an overpopulation of displaced persons camps in Zumba, Gwada and Kuta, Shiroro Local Government, for fear of unexpected attacks.

A high-ranking officer in the police command in Niger State who would not to be named said the new dimension the attacks had taken in the state required serious security intervention, especially military operations. He accused the military of not acting on the order of the president to carry out operations in the state.

“These people have been declared terrorists. They use a lot of sophisticated weapons, and now, bomb.

“The presidency has issued a statement, indicating that the president has given a directive for military operations. But we have not seen an efficient or concerted and comprehensive military operation. People have continued to call the police, which have the responsibility to ensure civil orderliness. The police use light weapons, but the military has a lot of firepower in combating terrorists and insurgents.

asc i Mohammed Ibrahim

“The attention of the military needs to be drawn to Niger State because the police do not have the sophisticated weapons to confront these insurgents, who use RPG, anti-aircraft rifles, GPMB. Only the military has the firepower to combat this insecurity in Niger State; they have different types of tanks. It is not something the police would face with their Hilux vehicles and AK47 rifles.

“At the point we are now, Niger State needs serious military operations. These people are just like Boko Haram in the North-East. A lot of bombs have been recovered, but unfortunately, this one was not discovered on time and it happened the way it did. 

“These terrorists have been using mines and heavy weapons. People should understand that the insurgency in Niger State is beyond the police. An act of terrorism is purely for the military.

“It is not as if we have folded our hands; we are doing our best. We have lost many of our officers in the line of duty. We should understand that the equipment those people are carrying are beyond some security agencies. So the agency that has the highest firepower should take the lead,” he said.

Also speaking to Daily Trust on Sunday on this matter, Suleiman Ibrahim, who said his village was about 1km away from Galadima-Kogo, said it was the first time he heard the sound of a bomb explosion; hence he felt as if the world had come to an end.

He said, “We don’t know when we are going back home because the bandits still operate in our villages. And with the use of bomb we are afraid of going back now.”

Shehu Abubakar, a resident of one of the deserted communities in Munya, said that with the bomb blast in Galadima-Kogo, more people had fled their communities, especially those that share boundaries with Galadima-Kogo.

He listed the communities that have been deserted for fear of possible attacks to include Wuloto Kafana, Kakuru, Jaso, Jankasa, Kurbaku, Kuchi, Zazzaga and Chibani.

“These communities border Galadima-Kogo, and nobody is living there now. We are scared that the terrorists may strike any time, so we left. Some people live in displaced persons camps while some live with their relatives in other places. From time to time men go during the day to get food and quickly return, but nobody lives in those communities,” he said.

An NSCDC officer who spoke with Daily Trust on Sunday in confidence said, “It was a black Monday to officers and men of the Niger State command. We lost fine and gallant officers. Many of us were traumatised, such that some felt like pulling off their uniforms and resigning.”

Residents who spoke with our correspondent said the explosion made them to completely lose hope in the ongoing effort to rescue their communities from terrorists and bandits, who they said attacked them on a daily basis.

“It is beyond what we were thinking. We are even scared to go back to our homes now because we don’t know if they have planted bombs there and our farms while we are way in the camps. Even as we are here now, we are not at peace,” one of the displaced persons said.

The secretary, Niger State Vigilante Corps, Shiroro Local Government, Ayuba Dakko, who also hails from Galadima-Kogo, described the experience as traumatic and unforgettable.

He said, “We have lost everything. I am also a victim. As I speak with you, my family members are in a displaced persons camp. The use of bombs is another dimension to the already bad situation. 

“The entire Galadima-Kogo, a community of over 500 houses, was set ablaze. Houses that were left are not up to 10. Our fear now is the use of bombs. We live in fear. I am not myself, even as I speak with you.”

Sani Abubakar Yusuf Kokki, the co-convener of Concerned Shiroro Youths, said the use of an improvised explosive device by the terrorists to attack Galadima-Kogo on Monday was strange and had created panic among residents.

 “The Monday morning bomb blast at Galadima-Kogo created fear among residents of the affected areas, such that people are now quite apprehensive of what the future holds. 

“Looking at the strange dimension the whole thing has taken, we are now of the view that our woes are far from ending. The terrorists are advancing their tentacles day by day and the attendant consequences are being spread like wildfire. We are doomed beyond redemption and the future is already bleak. People are on the run. And solution is not in sight because efforts to that effect have not been put in place,” Kokki said.

He said terrorists did not live in the communities but invade them regularly, pointing out that “without restoration there is no person that will risk his life and go back to his ancestral home.”

Also speaking, Jibrin Abdullahi Allawa, the president of Lakpma Youth Assembly, one of the immediate neighbouring communities to Galadima-Kogo said, “People from neigbouring communities have fled their homes because Galadima-Kogo, where the bomb blast occurred, is a district centre, housing a lot of other communities. So, since the district centre was attacked, smaller communities fled. 

“Prior to the recent attack, which I will say was the most devastating on Galadima-Kogo, members of the vigilante group stationed in that community served as a protective shield to other communities. But now that they have been dislodged, and with the incident of bomb blast, the locals on the neigbouring communities have fled.”   

Another resident, Salis Mohammed Sabo, also said, “Except the government is serious and fights these people, nobody is going home now. As I speak to you, Zumba, where one of the major displaced persons camps in Shiroro Local Government is located, has been threatened. Since the bomb blast occurred, people are leaving the camp in Zumba, which is close to Galadima-Kogo, for fear of possible invasion. People have been trooping from Erena and Zumba to Kuta and Gwada. If a place like Galadima-Kogo that was relatively safe could be invaded and destroyed completely, no community is safe again.”

An officer of the NSCDC who didn’t want his name mentioned said, “One should just pray not to come in contact with those people. They are heartless and operate with powerful weapons. I can tell you that I was among a team that was once attacked. We narrowly escaped. Thank God for saving our lives.”

Mubarak Danladi Galkogo, a displaced person from Galadima-Kogo in Zumba camp, told our correspondent that the recent bombing unsettled every community in the area.

He said, “We are feeling very bad. Till now we have not been given any believable assurance by the government that would give us peace of mind. We are just watching, with the hope that Allah would intervene one day and give us relief.”

He said residents of neighbouring communities to Galadima-Kogo were seen on a daily basis conveyed in trucks with their luggage fleeing their homes.

Galkogo added that while residents of the communities flee daily, foreign miners successfully continued with their activities in Galadima-Kogo.

He said, “We see foreign miners every day, even as we are in the camp here in Zumba. They pass us every day with containers, and they have never been attacked. Even on the day the first bomb went off, we were fleeing our homes while the miners were going to the mining sites with containers. We are truly becoming suspicious. We don’t know what is happening.”

Another displaced person said, “Before the bombing we used to sneak to our communities to take one or two things and run back to the camp, but now, we have stopped because no one can tell where bombs have been planted. The recent bomb blast came to us as a surprised. We are made to believe that these people are Boko Haram members.”

Another displaced person in Zumba also said, “When bandits attack physically you see them and can run, but we don’t know where they have planted bombs. Even here in the camp we are in fear.

Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that pregnant women give birth regularly without getting the requisite medical attention.

Dr Kamar Kamar of the Department of Political Science, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, whose research area is defence and security, peace and conflict resolution said, “The people we call bandits are being recruited by terrorists. It is the terrorists that use explosives. Those kinds of explosives detonate once people step on them.”

 “There is a need to bring more bomb experts to detect those mines and remove them in time. We may not be sure that two that exploded are the only ones they planted. There is a need to remove the remaining ones that may have been planted.”

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