Laleye Dipo in Minna
The Niger State Government Saturday claimed that the death toll in last week’s attacks on some villages in the Shiroro Local Government Area was 12 contrary to reports that put the death toll at 70.
This was contained in a statement by Office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), insisting that 70 persons were not killed from the armed attacks on some communities in the state.
A former lawmaker representing Niger East Senatorial District, Senator David Umaru had put the death toll at 70; the police said 18 people were confirmed dead while the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in its preliminary report claimed 40 corpses were recovered.
But in a statement by the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet and Security, Office of the SSG, Alhaji Aliyu Ekan, the state government disputed the claims, saying only 12 persons died from the armed attacks.
The statement said, “We make bold to state that the figure is not only grossly exaggerated, the report in the Media, credited to Senator David Umar is spurious and an unfortunate attempt to make Niger State look unsafe in the eyes of the world.”
It added that the attention of Niger State Government “has been drawn to a maliciously false report circulating in the media claiming that death toll in the alleged banditry attack on communities of Kwaki general area in Shiroro LGA has reached 70.”
It, therefore, rejected the figure, noting that it was not only grossly exaggerated, but also the report in the media, credited to former Senator Umar “is spurious and an unfortunate attempt to make Niger State look unsafe in the eyes of the world.”
The statement said the former Senator’s claim “is, to say the least, fictitious and also a mischievous attempt to generate ill-will between the people of the affected areas and the state government.
“The state government is aware of Umaru’s efforts to regrettably instigate people from his locality and to make them erroneously believe that the government isn’t concerned about their plight.
“This government, without any fear of contradiction, has been protective and proactively doing well in securing the lives and property of its citizens, an action that has made the state one of the relatively most peaceful in the country.
“It is pertinent to put the records straight in respect to the banditry attack on suburb communities of Allawa town. First, the death toll before the swift intervention of the military joint taskforce was 12 with 22 wounded and not 70 as purportedly claimed by Senator Umar.
“It is lamentable that the former senator would stoop too low to persistently want to put this administration to disrepute by peddling falsehood to the unsuspecting and undiscerning public.
“The said attacks were not even targeted at the villages, but the cattle. It was the sporadic gunshots in the air that generated anxiety amongst the unsuspecting villagers and as they flee in fear some of them were shot by the bandits.”
Immediately the attack in the area was reported, the statement said the state government acted swiftly by reinforcing the military joint taskforce that had been stationed there since 2017.
It said the taskforce successfully repelled the attacks from the criminals, four people believed to be informants to the criminals were arrested and are now assisting security agencies to trace and arrest their cohorts
Already, according to the statement, calm has returned along the Kwaki general area as fleeing communities return to their homes while the taskforce continue to comb the bush and other very difficult terrains to fish out the miscreants.