President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of a new Battalion of the Nigerian Army, as well as a new Police Area Command in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
The approvals are part of measures to scale up the security response to the banditry affecting the area, Mr Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said in a statement on Monday evening.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how dozens were killed on Saturday in the latest attack on communities in Birnin Gwari.
The emir of the town said on Monday that the death toll from the attack had risen to 58.
Scores of people including soldiers and police officers had been killed in previous attacks by bandits in the local government.
The president strongly condemns the latest massacre of innocent Nigerians in the area, Mr Shehu said.
“I am deeply outraged by this unwarranted, unprovoked and reckless destruction of lives by bandits who belong to the lowest level of civilization. I feel the pains and devastation of the families of the victims, and this administration will do everything possible to ensure we defeat these enemies of humanity,” Mr Buhari was quoted as saying in the statement.
Mr Shehu said the new army battalion and the police area command are the latest in a series of law enforcement measures to ensure more effective protection of lives and property, in and around Benue, Kaduna, Taraba, Zamfara and Nasarawa States.
Last week the Nigerian Air Force took delivery of two new helicopter gunships, for deployment to parts of the country affected by banditry.
A Quick Response Wing has also been established by the Nigerian Air Force in Taraba State, while a Joint Military Intervention Force is fully on ground in Benue, Mr Shehu said.
However, despite the deployments in Benue and Taraba, killings have continued in both states.
According to Mr Shehu, President Buhari assures that security remains a priority for his government; and his administration will not tolerate the persistent killing of innocent people in order to set Nigerians against one another.
“These persistent killings are not spontaneous; there are subterranean forces with a sinister agenda to instigate war in the country for selfish purposes,” the president was quoted as saying.
“Although unconventional war is particularly complicated, our security forces are making rigorous efforts to better understand these enemies with a view to decisively checkmating their evil attacks.”
Mr Buhari extended his condolences to the families of the latest victims, the government and the people of Kaduna State over the tragedy. He assured that his government will never abandon them to their fate.
El-Rufai Visits Birnin Gwari
Also, the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, visited the affected Gwaska community in Birnin Gwari on Monday evening.
At Birnin Gwari, Mr El-Rufai met with the emir, Jibril Zubair, and community leaders before proceeding to Gwaska, the scene of the latest fatal attack.
At the palace of the emir, Mr El-Rufai expressed his sorrow and offered condolences to the people.
“I came here to share the pain and anguish of our people, the predicament of innocent citizens whose lives were cut short due to the terrorism of bandits and criminals who have been tormenting us.
“I and my team will be proceeding to Gwaska and other communities to see for ourselves and talk directly to the people. But I want to say again, that we are not sleeping and by the grace of God we will overcome this evil act and the terrorism being unleashed on our people.”
In his response, the emir, Jibril Zubair, praised the federal and state governments for demonstrating commitment to the plight of his people.
“We are grateful for your deep condolences and empathy. We are grateful for all your commitment to resolving the plight of Birnin Gwari people. As a member of the State Security Council, I am in the know of federal and state government commitment.
“The IGP and the GOC were here and have confirmed the establishment of a Battalion of the army and Police Area Command. I am happy that you are going to Gwaska and other communities to see for yourself.”
At Gwaska, Mr El-Rufai was taken round and briefed by Isa Musa, the leader of the community, who narrated how the bandits carried out the heinous attack.
Mr Musa said that the attackers “were heavily armed with sophisticated weapons and are not ordinary gunmen. They came from different directions and circled us shooting and burning our houses with impunity.
“We appreciate all your commitment but we wish to let you know that only full military action on both land and air can match these terrorists. They are mercenaries and marksmen. As you can see it’s about seven kilometers to Dansadau in Zamfara State and other boundaries with Katsina and Niger with us here in Birnin Gwari Local Government.”