- El-Rufai condemns onslaught, garrison commander, police commissioner relocate to Kaura, Jama’a LGs
John Shiklam in Kaduna
Despite the heavy security presence in the southern part of Kaduna State, suspected armed Fulani herdsmen for the umpteenth time launched fresh attacks on four communities in the region between Sunday and monday morning, killing 22 persons in the process.
Many houses were also reportedly set ablaze during the incident.
The affected villages included Ashim, Nissi and Zilan in the Atakad District of Kaura Local Government Area and Bakin Kogi in Goska District of Jama’a Local Government Area.
The attacks in Ashim, Nisi and Zilan were said to have occurred monday at about 6 a.m., claiming 15 lives with over 50 houses reportedly burnt, while the attack on Bakin Kogi occurred on Sunday at about 5 p.m., claiming seven lives and many houses burnt.
The President, Takad Community Development Association, Mr. Enock Andong, who confirmed the attacks on the three villages in his area, told THISDAY on the phone that the herdsmen were heavily armed.
He expressed shock that in spite of the heavy security presence, they were able to launch the attacks.
Andong added that one of the attackers was killed by soldiers in the area.
“They came around 6 a.m. today (Monday) and they killed 15 persons in Ashim and Zilan alone. I am on my way to Nisi to find out the situation of things there,” he said.
Narrating how the herdsmen invaded Bakin Kogi, a resident of the village, Enock Barau, said the invaders wore black clothes from head to toe and started shooting indiscriminately on reaching the community.
Barau, a former leader of the Kaninkon Development Association told THISDAY that the attack lasted for about four hours, even as his community, with the support of soldiers, tried to repel the suspected herdsmen.
He said: “Yesterday (Sunday) around 5 p.m., we heard gunshots within our surroundings. When I heard the gunshots three times, I came out of my house.
“The gunshots continued rapidly and before I could realise what was happening, they had surrounded part of the community. Many people coming down from the hillside saw and heard the shooting and ran for their lives.
“They (assailants) were in a complete black and black from head to toe. As they were shooting, we managed to evacuate women to a safe zone while the men stayed to defend the village.
“The shooting went on from between 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. before they eventually stopped.
“As they were shooting, they proceeded to burn our houses. Over 100 houses were set ablaze. Seven persons were killed and one person is still missing.
“We have soldiers and policemen stationed in the community, unfortunately, the soldiers were just coming from the river where they went to have their bath. So they were taken unawares.
“The herdsmen took control of their camp and the soldiers had to run back to strategise to take over their camp.
“We were very impressed with the soldiers because they did their best. After recovering their camp from the herdsmen, some of the soldiers moved into the community to help us.
“But the mobile police unit whose armoured personnel carrier (APC) was stationed directly opposite my house didn’t do much.
“They (police) were just driving up and down without firing a single shot at the gunmen. The police only started responding to the attack when a senior officer arrived.
“By the time reinforcement arrived, the attackers had left.”
The spokesman of the Kaduna State Police Command, Aliyu Usman, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), did not immediately confirm the incident when contacted.
However, the Kaduna State Government immediately announced the relocation of the Garrison Commander of 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Brig. Gen. Ismaila Isa and the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Agyole Abeh to the southern part of the state to coordinate a determined response to the attacks by the armed bandits.
The state government, in a statement by Samuel Aruwan, spokesman to Governor Nasir El-Rufai said the situation had been brought under control “as security operations continue”.
The governor, who has come under heavy criticism for past attacks in Southern Kaduna, assured residents in the affected communities that the government was fully committed to securing the area with the active support of the army and the police.
The statement added that the two battalions of the Nigerian Army and the 10 mobile police squadrons were engaging the bandits, “as the state carries out its obligations to secure the area, protect lives and rout these armed bandits”.
The governor cautioned that despite these difficulties and pains of the attacks, this was not the time to give the bandits the pleasure of seeing victims turn on each other.
He called for support for the army and the security agencies as they worked to repel attacks and crush the bandits.
El-Rufai said: “Unknown gunmen in a coordinated attack invaded Bakin Kogi and Kaninkon villages in Jama’a Local Government Area in the state on Sunday, February 19, 2017 at about 5.30 p.m.
“They were repelled by Operation Yaki Surveillance Patrol Teams and Operation Harmony Patrol Teams.
“Further attacks were recorded today (Monday) in Kaura Local Government Area. Fatalities were recorded and some houses were burnt in the attacks.
“I have been in touch with the security agencies and I have been studiously following the situation in Jama’a and Kaura Local Government Areas over the unfortunate attacks.
“I want to first of all extend my heartfelt condolences to the families and relations that lost their loved ones and property in these unfortunate attacks.
“My prayers and support equally go to citizens that sustained injuries and are traumatised by what they witnessed.
“This is clearly a wicked, evil and devilish act being perpetrated by enemies of peace and humanity.
“I also wish to commend our gallant soldiers and police personnel, who are defending our communities. The Kaduna State Government will continue to work assiduously with security agencies towards the protection of lives and property.”