By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Francis Sardauna
President Muhammadu Buhari last night condemned the latest attacks by bandits which claimed 47 lives in three local government areas of Katsina State.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, stated in a statement that the president said he was deeply saddened by the unfortunate development.
According to the statement, the president urged Nigerians not to despair, saying his administration was ever determined to defeat and crush criminals who take advantage of the lockdown to attack their victims.
It also said Buhari threatened that he would not tolerate this large scale killing of innocent people by the bandits, adding that “in line with my commitment to the security of the people, these attacks will be met with decisive force.”
It added that the president directed the security agencies not to rest on their oars or lower their guards in a way that will create a vacuum for the bandits to strike.
“While extending his sympathies to the families of the victims, he called on the people to show more vigilance by reporting the activities of criminal elements in their midst,” Shehu added.
Bandits had at the weekend killed 47 people in an attack on some villages in Danmusa Local Government Area of Katsina State.
A statement by the state police command said the people were killed during multiple onslaughts on some villages in the state at the weekend.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Gambo Isah, a Superintendent of Police, in the statement, said: “On 18/04/2020 at about 00:30hours, bandits in their numbers, armed with AK 47 rifles attacked Kurechi village of Danmusa LGA of Katsina State. The villagers summoned courage and chased away the hoodlums.
“Later the villagers started burning down empty corn stalk to keep their animals safe and to keep the hoodlums at Bay. Subsequently, the situation changed when some Yansakai group started setting ablaze some Fulani settlements at Aibon Mangwaro village of Danmusa LGA of Katsina State.
“Consequently, on the same date at about 03:00hrs, there were reports of organised and simultaneous attacks on villages in Danmusa, Dutsenma and Safana by groups of armed bandits.
At Kurechin Atai village of Danmusa 14 persons were killed. At Kurechin Giye and Kurechin Dutse villages of Dutsinma LGA of Katsina state bandits killed four and six persons respectively.
“And at Makauwachi and Daule villages the hoodlums killed 19 and four persons respectively. “Detachments of police, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Air Force, civil defence and DSS have been drafted to the area currently, an operation is still ongoing by the combine joint forces.”
Armed gangs had in February killed over 55 people in separate raids on some villages in the state, the police had also confirmed.
In one of the attacks, dozens of gunmen on motorcycles had attacked the villages of Tsauwa and Dankar, shooting residents and burning homes.
“The bandits killed 21 people in Tsauwa and another nine in nearby Dankar.
“Most of those killed were old people and children who couldn’t escape,” the police had stated.
Police and soldiers were deployed in the area after the attack and arrested one suspect.
The attackers burnt homes, livestock and food supplies before fleeing, said Tukur Mu’azu, traditional chief of Batsari, a district that straddles the two attacked villages.
In another attack, more than 20 persons were feared killed and scores of others wounded as bandits attacked four communities in the state.
The affected communities are Tsabuwa in Batsari Local Government Area and Gurbi and two others in Kankara Local Government Area In Gurbi for instance, 17 bandits were killed by security agents and many others injured. Four residents of the community were, however, killed by the marauding group. The bodies of five of those killed were ferried from Gurbi to the Kankara Police Station.
In Tsabuwa, some people were also reportedly killed and others injured during the attacks.
The spate of attacks by the bandits had forced the state to grant amnesty to bandits and cattle rustlers late last year.
The state Governor, Hon. Aminu Masari, in a communiqué issued after a security and reconciliation meeting with security agents, vigilante, volunteer groups, herdsmen and farmers in the state had said the amnesty was to encourage the bandits to embrace peace.
But in January this year, exactly five months after the state government granted amnesty to repentant bandits, residents of the state said the peace accord had collapsed citing renewed armed attacks and nefarious activities in the state.
Some of the residents had said five local government areas in the state were under siege already, comprising Dutsinma, Jibia, Batsari, Safana and some parts of Kankara.