Armed robbers are increasing turning their attention to rural communities. They need protection
On Monday, June 1, 2012, a gang of armed robbers invaded two villages in Dansadau emirate, in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State, killing about 27 people including a policeman. The hoodlums said to be up to 80 came on motorcycles and went “door-to-door shooting villagers and in some cases slitting their throats with knives.” Unfortunately, according to some accounts, the few policemen who were around took to their heels when the robbers arrived at the wee hours of the morning.
There were strong indications that the robbers had come on a revenge mission following an earlier attack by the police and other security agencies on the criminals’ hideout in the thick forest of Dansadau which resulted in the killing as well as the arrest of some of their members. As it would happen, this was not the first time armed robbers would invade rural areas where there are little or no police presence thereby exposing the villagers to danger. A week before the Zamfara attacks in early June, gunmen had invaded Gwagwada village in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, killing one person and leaving two others seriously injured. The gunmen reportedly entered the village at about 2am and started shooting sporadically into the air while some others went from house to house, collecting money and other valuables. The Kaduna police spokesman, Mr. Aminu Lawan, who confirmed the incident, said the suspected armed robbers were seven, adding that the police could not make an arrest but were still hunting the suspects.
Last April, at least two persons, including a 70-year man, were killed when a gang of armed robbers invaded Awa, a sleepy community in Oguta local government area of Imo State. About three villagers were stabbed by the robbers who also raped a number of women in addition to making away with cash and properties worth millions of Naira. According to an eye witness account, “The robbers commenced their nasty operation at about 1am and continued until about 3am. Some families in Umunkoli, Umuorie, Ndionyeagorom, Ndivuelekwa and Umuokparaku were ravaged”.
Indeed, across the country today, there are chilling reports of armed robbers invading vulnerable villages and communities that are far removed from the city centres, robbing local bank branches and often sacking the poorly equipped Police posts located in some of the areas. These men of the underworld go to these rural communities fully aware of the fact that there would be little or no resistance. Moreover, their chosen hours of operation, between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., are the deadliest time of the night when there would be little or no presence of any security challenge to their operations.
However, in the case of the Zamfara invasion, the police should be commended for initially taking a proactive step to attack the criminals in their base inside the forest. But then they should have anticipated the reprisal attack in which case the appropriate thing to do would have been for the police and other security agencies that raided their den to reinforce and stay back to protect the unarmed villagers.
Now that the criminals are changing their operational method by going to the villages, it is incumbent on the Police authorities to also adopt new strategies that will checkmate the antics of men of the underworld who have now turned rural dwellers to easy preys. It is also important that the authorities in the states and local governments are equally involved in providing paid local neighbourhood watch, especially in vulnerable communities. That is what the current security situation demands.