By Laleye Dipo
Just three days after men of the Joint Security Taskforce left their camps at Allawa and Bassa villages in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, gunmen have invaded Allawa community, sacking the villagers from their abodes.
Men of the Joint Taskforce left the bases last Friday, a day after bandits raided the camps killing six soldiers and a policeman and also setting the camps on fire after burning their operational vehicles.
The Niger State Government had defended the action of the security operatives, saying it was to enable them re-strategise for the task ahead.
However, a report from the area indicated that no fewer than 100 gunmen invaded Allawa village Sunday morning during which they reportedly operated for close to four hours.
The bandits, according to the report, did not bother to shoot into the air to scare the villagers but went from hut to hut making away with the people’s property.
As a result, the villagers ran helter skelter while the bandits with ease rustled all their animals.
“Nobody was killed by the bandits during the operation,” an eyewitness said, adding that “the bandits went about destroying the shops and houses of the villagers”.
The eyewitness said a pregnant woman, who escaped into the bush for safety, was delivered of a baby and the bandits made sure other women assisted her.
The entire Allawa community is now deserted as the people have all fled to neighbouring Pandogari village where they are currently taking refuge in primary schools and in open spaces without food and water.
“As I talk to you now, the situation is very pathetic, the whole community is deserted, people have left the town without taking any of their belongings with them,” the eyewitness said.
The Co-Convener of the Shiroro Youth Movement, Mr Abubakar Yussuf Koki, when contacted on phone, confirmed the story, saying virtually everyone has left the village since soldiers were withdrawn from the place.
Neither the police nor government officials could be reached for comments on this latest development.
The Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, had last Saturday, defended the withdrawal of soldiers from the Allawa forests, saying their redeployment was to make them “re-strategise”.
Bello, who regretted the “deadly attack” and killing of the security agents, in a statement in Minna on Saturday, urged the communities “not to be apprehensive but remain calm as the security agents have retreated to re-strategise and not left them completely”.
However, the senator representing Niger East Senatorial zone in the National Assembly, Alhaji Sani Musa, has pleaded with the state government that the action be reconsidered as it will be counterproductive.