Deputy Senate Minority Whip, Senator Abu Ibrahim, on Monday, stated that no fewer than 126 persons died during the attack on Katsina villages at the weekend.
The senator, who gave graphic details of the attacks, said that the foreigners involved used AK-47 rifles and helicopter to attack the target villages.
He disclosed that the insurgents were camped in a Federal Forest Reserve in Katsina South Senatorial district, which, he said, also borders Niger State as well as Zamfara, Kaduna, Kebbi states.
Data presented by Senator Ibrahim indicated that 57 people were killed in Mararrabar; 57 in Maigora; 40 people were shot dead in Mai Gora; 21 people were killed in Layin Galadima, while eight people were shot dead in Unguwar Doka.
The senator said: “On Thursday morning, I got information of what was going on in my constituency of Katsina South senatorial district, mainly in two local governments — Faskari and Sabuwa local government areas.
“This thing happened when President Goodluck Jonathan was on a state visit to Katsina and he was not even aware! They were holding gala night when people were killed. It’s an unfortunate situation but that’s the truth.
“On getting the information, I quickly called the Area Commander and the two district heads who relayed what happened. It’s been an issue that’s been going on for a very long time.
“There’s a chunk of Federal Forest Reserve which covers that Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Kebbi up to some parts of Niger. The locals claimed that the forest reserve had been taken over by hoodlums. Originally, people thought they were cattle rustlers or Fulani herdsmen who had been part of the society for years, even for hundreds of years.
“Skirmishes between farmers in the local villages and Fulani herdsmen had been a known phenomena but this situation was completely different.
“The forest has been taken over by these people; the villagers even claimed that the Fulani herdsmen have been pushed away and this time, and at the same time, cattle rustling became a very serious issue.
“All the farmers in the area who own cattle have lost them, they’ve been stolen and some killings have taken place; this had devastated some parts of the state. It has particularly devastated Birnin Gwari area, the skirmishes have been very serious in the two local governments I mentioned earlier. It spread to Kaduna State and even in Zamfara State, where many people were killed.
“I was there personally, visited them at the weekend, between Saturday and Sunday, when this incident took place. I visited all the villages where these killings took place and from the records I got from them, in Mararrabar Maigora, 57 people were shot dead; in Mai Gora, 40 were killed; in Layin Galadima, 21 were killed and in Unguwar Doka, eight people were shot dead.
“I interviewed the village heads and asked them what really happened and I was told that these people came on motor cycles, armed with Ak-47 rifles and started shooting people.
“There were claims that in one village, they resisted the armed robbery of their cattle and they killed one or two people which precipitated this attack. The reprisal occurred with over 50 motor cyclists, killing from one village to another and what particularly shocked me was that most of the affected villages have been sacked.”
Senator Ibrahim stated that the attackers launched attacks on eight villages, adding that they were insurgents from Mali, Libya, Niger and Chad.
He said that if not checked, they could enter Nigeria at will.
He further said: “I counted eight villages that have been either sacked or the villagers ran away. Information I got from the Miyetti Allah leadership was that this goes beyond the normal Fulani farmers and cattle herdsmen feud.
“Some of the villagers told me that helicopters even landed in the forest. So, it’s beyond the normal skirmishes that normally and culturally happen between these people for years.
“As I have said, I will raise the issue with my colleagues from the state as well as senators from Kebbi, Kaduna and Zamfara and my fear is that if the forest is taken over by foreign insurgents, probably from Mali, Libya, Niger, Chad, then, we are in for another serious situation in this country.
“The government must take action immediately to find out the real situation of things. We must find out what is really going on and the National Assembly, too, must intervene.”
Meanwhile, leader of the Nigerian delegation to the 130th Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) meeting holding in Geneva, Switzerland, Senator David Mark, is canvassing the support of African nations to help Nigeria combat the menace of insurgency.
Senator Mark and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Emeka Ihedioha, are canvassing the support of African countries to back Nigeria in the battle against insurgency.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the President of the Senate, Mr Paul Mumeh indicated that Nigeria was asking the neighbouring African countries to collaborate with it in the fight against insurgents ravaging some parts of the nation.
The statement quoted Senator Mark as saying that terrorism had grown beyond the confines of a single nation, which obviously demanded the collaboration of all nations to combat.
He further stated that peace and democracy would promote security in the land, adding that all emphasis should be on democracy and global peace that would facilitate development.
In his comment, Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Ihedioha, noted that the growing insurgency was threatening the peace of the nation.
Troops ambush terrorists, kill 8 in Yobe
Meanwhile, troops operating in the North East have ambushed a group of terrorists on a mission to penetrate and attack Goniri community in Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe.
This is contained in a statement issued on Monday in Abuja by Major-Gen eral Chris Olukolade, Director of Defence Information and Coordinator, Joint Information Centre Counter Terrorism Campaign.
Olukolade said that the mission failed, as the terrorists were ambushed by troops on patrol, who were already alerted on the their intention.
“Troops are still in pursuit of the fleeing terrorist elements after the encounter, which resulted in some casualties on both parties.
“Rockets and machine guns were freely used by the terrorists, who eventually lost over eight of their fighters with several others wounded.
“Arms were also captured from the terrorists while others fled.
“The troops, however, lost a soldier while an officer was seriously wounded in the encounter,” he said.