Photo: Aminu Abubakar/IRIN
Gunmen on the prowl yesterday killed 111 Nigerians in Katsina, Benue and Yobe states.
The development came just as the speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, said that the House is ready to probe those who diverted appropriated funds for the Joint Task Force (JTF) to fight insurgency in the north-east.
The death toll from armed attacks by suspected Fulani men at the villages of Faskari and Sabuwa council areas of Katsina State has risen to 103, residents have confirmed.
Speaking to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, a resident of Maigora who said he witnessed the burial rites of those murdered in the senseless attacks said no fewer 100 people have been murdered in the two-day attack.
“As I talk to you, more bodies are still being recovered and so we cannot even say how many have been killed now until the whole situation subsides,” he said.
Our source who declined to be mentioned for security reason gave the breakdown of those killed in the villages to include 40 in Mararabar Maigora, 27 in Maigora, 21 in Sabon Layin Galadima and 8 at Unguwar Doka.
Residents said the attackers who were well armed and numbering over 30 raided the villages on motorcycles and they shot sporadically, killing innocent residents.
It was gathered that the armed men stormed the villages around 3pm and started killing anyone at sight, burning houses but never stole anything, fueling speculations that their mission was to wipe out the villages.
Scores of residents who spoke to our correspondent lamented that the attackers had a field day killing people without reaction from security operatives. They said the attacks were unprovoked.
An eyewitness said two policemen were also killed by the armed men: “I counted over 40 corpses and witnessed the mass funeral rites of some of those killed including children and women.”
The chief Imam of Maigora village said some of the attackers wore military uniforms, adding that over five vehicles were razed down by the attackers.
Due to the attack, residents of the affected villages have deserted their homes and are said to be seeking refuge in the neighbouring towns of Funtua in Katsina State and Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State.
When contacted, the spokesman of Katsina police, DSP Aminu Sadik, said he was aware that five were killed contrary to reports that over 100 died in the ensuing attacks.
Meanwhile, the Katsina State chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, has chided the president for continuing with the state visit in the face of the armed attack and the killings therein.
Addressing the press, interim chairman of APC in Katsina State Arc Dangiwa Ahmed called for immediate suspension of the state visit, noting that “the federal government should urgently find lasting solution to this carnage”.
Benue Attacks: 5 Killed, 20 Corpses Trapped in Ayiin, Azege Farms – Survivors
Barely 48 hours after Benue State governor Gabriel Suswam’s convoy was attacked by suspected Fulani herdsmen, five people have been reportedly killed and 20 corpses still trapped in farmlands in Anyiebe and Adzege communities of Logo local government area.
Anyiebe and Adzege are located a few kilometres away from the hometown of Governor Suswam.
However, witnesses told LEADERSHIP friday that the attack occurred on Wednesday at about 5am and those who were killed were trapped in the bush by the attackers.
Mr Ahemba James, a survivor of the attack who spoke in an interview at Ayilamo, confirmed that the gunmen attacked them after they had fled Anyiebe and Tse Zungwe villages, went back to the place to pack some of their property items and were ambushed by the suspected herdsmen.
James said, “We ran back to Anyiin but on reaching there we realized that everybody had left the place to Ugba, Abeda-Shitile and other places, except policemen that were guarding the area. I was shot in the leg and the wound is just healing.”
Governor Suswam had visited Anyiin and Ayilamo communities on Wednesday, accompanied by the commissioner of police, Adams Audu, to assess the crisis situation. He observed that residents of the villages that share borders with Taraba and Nasarawa including Anyiin had all fled for safety, just as shops, schools and churches were closed down
At Ayilamo, Suswam told the victims that he had arranged with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to situate refugee camps to harbour the displaced persons. He urged them to remain peaceful as government was making serious effort to end the attacks.
Gunmen kill 3 in Yobe
Gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram terrorists have attacked Yadin Buni of Gujba local government area and killed three people including two Islamic scholars, Malam Baba Garba, and the son of another Iman, Malam Rabiu. They were killed in their homes in the early hours of yesterday. One driver was shot and killed thereafter outside the town.
A resident who narrated what happened to LEADERSHIP Friday shortly after the incident said, “The gunmen came in droves in Toyota Hilux vehicles and started shooting sporadically, killing the three, and after that they ran away… Some of us had to flee towards the neighbouring communities and some of the youths ran into the bush.”
Yadin Buni is on Damaturu-Biu road, and 55 kilometres away from Yobe State capital Damaturu.
Statements from the residents of Yadin Buni indicated that the gunmen were on a mission to scare away the people of the town and snatch two Sharon buses fully loaded with food items.
A resident of Buni Yadi, Malam Bukar, said the gunmen held the entire area to ransom for over one hour as there were no soldiers or policemen to provide security for the residents that refused to flee after the last attack on the Federal Government College in the area that claimed the lives of over 50 innocent students.
“We were shocked and terrified when the gunmen came again to attack us and kill the three people,” he said.
When contacted, yesterday in Damaturu, the commissioner of police, Yobe State command, Ahmed Sunusi Rufa’i, said that he was not aware of any fresh attack on Buni Yadi by suspected Boko Haram members, promising that he would give the feedback as soon as he received information from the DPO in charge of the area.
Counter-insurgency: We’ll Probe Diversion Of JTF Funds – Tambuwal
House of Representatives speaker Hon. Aminu Tambuwal has promised that the House will go after members of the country’s armed forces responsible for alleged diversion of funds appropriated for the operations of the military-led Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed to the insurgency-ravaged north-east.
The speaker spoke when a high-level delegation of the Unity Schools Old Students’ Association (USOSA) led by its president-general, Muhammadu Nuhu-Koko, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.
Tambuwal described as “not acceptable” several reports detailing how military personnel deployed to the operational areas have been short-changed in their allowances and under-kitted.
He accused some interests of “playing politics” with the deployed military personnel’s welfare.
“We (House) are ready to take on whoever is involved in that (misappropriation),” Tambuwal declared at the meeting with the USOSA delegation.
He said: “We may have to find new ways of improved oversight so that we ensure that what is meant for the welfare of our soldiers who have surrendered their lives to this country should be improved. A situation whereby we appropriate funds for our men to be well taken care of, to be well kitted and for them to have the best of arms and somebody somewhere is playing politics or is not implementing and applying those funds judiciously is not acceptable. We are ready to take on whoever is involved in that.
“Very soon by the time we come back, we are going to have some motions that are talking about welfare of our men on the field. We have received several complaints from soldiers that they are not getting what is due to them on the field. How do you take someone that is less motivated to the battlefield? I believe that we need to do more and I believe that those responsible should be responsible enough to cater for these troops”.
Reports have cited low morale occasioned by lack of motivation and poor welfare package as some of the factors working against the successful execution of the war against Boko Haram terrorists in the north-east. Welfare packages meant for the fighting soldiers have been grossly insufficient to motivate them, reports said.
Tambuwal stated: “We shall give government every support. And we have taken extra steps to support the government to support the people that are being affected by this crisis. We are amenable, we are available, we are ready to do everything possible to bring this to an end.
“However, the legislature has its limitations. We cannot commandeer troops. We can only pass resolutions. We can only appropriate funds. Of course, we can perform oversight, but we have our limitation in following the money, in following appropriated funds. That is why I said in my speech (Tuesday’s special session) that, even as parliamentarians, we may have to find new ways of improved oversight.”
Terror alert: military embarks on stop-and-search in Mpape, others
Apparently acting to forestall any possible terror attack in Abuja, the Nigerian Army and other security agencies yesterday embarked on stop-and-search across the nation’s capital city.
Vehicular movement was restricted for several hours and commuters stranded at Mpape, a hugely populated suburb town in Abuja.
The search which took place yesterday afternoon was connected with the reported terror threat on the nation’s capital city.
Our correspondent observed that both male and female commuters on Okada and incoming and outgoing vehicles were thoroughly searched one after the other. Also, car bonnets and boots were searched.
One of the military officers at the scene told our correspondent that it was a routine check.
But one of the officers was overheard telling someone on the phone that the military got a terror threat alert which informed the need for a thorough check to be done on incoming and outgoing vehicles to some major spots across Abuja.
The officer hurriedly said, “It is a routine security check and it is normal, nothing serious. But don’t take any photos, just proceed to where you are going to.”
It was reported that the soldiers, the police and other security agencies are on the alert to pre-empt any act of terrorism in Abuja ahead of the National Conference scheduled to begin next week.
It was also gathered that terrorists have marked down some public buildings, headquarters of military and security agencies and offices as well as densely-populated areas to attack during the conference.
The entry and exit points into the FCT include Abaji, Gwagwalada, Zuba, Dutse Alhaji and Mararaba. Intelligence reports listed the notorious hotspots to include Gwagwalada, Suleja, Deidei. Others are Dutse Alhaji, Mpape, Apo Mechanic Village, Zuba, Mararaba, Nyanya, motor parks, uncompleted buildings and forests.
It was also gathered that managers and owners of hotels, guest houses, restaurants and drinking joints have been advised to be wary of the kind of guests they accommodate and entertain on their business premises.
Al-Makura visits Suswam over gunmen attack
Nasarawa State governor Tanko Al-Makura yesterday visited Benue State governor Gabriel Suswam to sympathize with him over the attack on his convoy by suspected Fulani militia.
Al-Makura led the state government delegation to Makurdi accompanied by the Emir of Lafia I, Alhaji Isah Mustapha Agwai. They described the attack on Suswam as callous and unwarranted.
He said at Government House, Makurdi, that he and the entire people of the state were saddened by the unacceptable attack perpetrated on the governor by the herdsmen and that he visited Suswam to show love and brotherliness.
Al-Makura said, “The attacks are becoming worrisome and if active steps are not taken, it will overwhelm us very soon.”
Attack on Suswam calls for serious concern – ACF
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday described the recent gunmen attacks on Governor Suswam of Benue State as “shocking and unfortunate”.
The ACF, in a statement signed by its spokesman Muhammad Ibrahim, said that if a convoy of a state governor with all the security details could be so attacked by some bandits, the common man would have no hope in the government that is responsible for his security and welfare.
According to the forum, the incessant and reprisal attacks in Benue State are worrisome and capable of undermining the long-existing bond of peaceful relationships between the Tiv and Fulani herdsmen.
The forum called on the government at all levels to re-double their efforts and be proactive in tackling security challenges.
They added that “communities must also be vigilant and monitor suspicious people within their midst, get involved in intelligence gathering and alert security agencies in good time”.
The forum called for a judicial commission of inquiry to unravel the causes of frequent clashes between the farmers and herdsmen in several states in the north.
Benue attack: cleric seeks prayers to avoid more bloodbath
The presiding bishop of the Faith Hill Prophetic Assembly Worldwide and chairman of Pentecostal Bishops in Benue State, Rev. Timothy Kume, has prophesied that, with increasing security breaches, the agrarian Benue State will turn a slaughterhouse in the next 51 days if serious prayers were not rendered.
Kume said President Goodluck Jonathan would also be evicted from office within the predicted time, adding that the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) would gain at the detriment of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The bishop who, yesterday in Makurdi, addressed newsmen explained that he saw a vision and that he was pained because of certain security challenges faced by the state and country which have remained unabated.
He said, “I saw a vision and prophecy from God that, in less than 51 days, if serious prayers are not made and security beefed up, there will be a lot of killings, bloodshed and there is going to be heavy invasion in Makurdi and bombings will be everywhere.”
We will apprehend saboteurs of emergency rule – security agencies
Security operatives yesterday warned those sabotaging the ongoing military operations in the north-east or face the consequences for violating the State of Emergency Rule Act.
The spokesmen of all the security services read the riot act at a press briefing by the Joint Security Information Committee on security developments in the country.
They said “there is no respite for terrorists”.
They accused the political elite of inciting the public against the military and attempting to cause disaffection among the troops with intent to cause mutiny. They warned those working against the national interest to stop it or face the consequences.
In a prepared speech read on their behalf by the director of defence information, Major General Chris Olukolade, the security operatives said they were aware of the State of Emergency Rule Act and were conscious of those violating it. “We would apprehend those violating the Act; those who are undermining our operations will pay dearly for doing so but we will follow the due process in doing that,” they said.
Katsina Attack: Jonathan Orders Army To Ransack Rugu Forest
Meanwhile, angered by the killing of about 103 people in some communities of Faskari local government area in Katsina right under his nose, President Goodluck Jonathan who is on a 2-day official visit to the state last night ordered the Nigerian Army to ransack the Rugu Forest and ensure that the insurgents are all fished out.
Speaking at a dinner reception organised for him by the Katsina State government at the Government House Banquet Hall, Jonathan regretted that the rugu forest which borders about four states of Katsina, Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna and a neighbouring country of Niger Republic meant for economic purposes had become safe haven for terrorists who are launching attacks in the states.