At least four persons were confirmed dead on Monday in Rafi local government area of Niger State following a bloody clash with armed bandits.
Residents said the deceased are members of the vigilante groups who reportedly engaged the dreaded armed men who launched an attack at Tashan Kare village, an outskirts of Kagara town, Rafi local government headquarters.
The vigilante group protested against police inaction after several distress calls for them to come to their aid while they engaged in a fire fight with the gunmen, a source said, asking not to be named for security reasons.
He said the vigilante groups stormed the Emir of Kagara’s palace with the corpse of their colleagues in protest. However, the Emir was away in Abuja for medical reasons.
“The vigilante members went to the police station in Kagara town and called the police to join them in the bush to help chase away the gunmen as the bandits are still present with more sophisticated weapons better than theirs.
“The police officers declined the request, saying they needed an order from above. The vigilante members also pleaded with the police to lend them their guns to confront the bandit; however, the police refused,” the source said.
The vigilante members stormed the station’s armoury and whisked away about 10 AK-47s after forcing the police away, and returned to the battlefront and engaged the gunmen, many sources said.
The source added that one vigilante member was shot dead by the police while trying to snatch a gun from him, however, the police said the vigilante member was only injured and not killed.
Sources also confirmed that the looted guns were later returned to the police station upon intervention of the local government chairman, Isma’il Modibbo, with the support of some traditional rulers in the area.
The police spokesperson for Niger State, Wasiu Abiodun, in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES, confirmed the incident. He said the area is now calm following reinforcements of security personnel.
He said members of the vigilante group from Tashan Kare village, numbering over 50 reported at Kagara Division that armed bandits attacked their village, and four of their members lost their lives while confronting the bandits before the arrival of the police at the scene.
While the DPO of the station was addressing the vigilante members on the efforts made by the police to flush out the bandits, some members of the vigilante became violent and attacked the police station, the police said.
“On receipt of the information, the commissioner of police dispatched a reinforcement team led by the deputy commissioner of police in charge of operations and upon their arrival, normalcy has already been restored due to the prompt intervention of the area commander Kontagora, personnel of Operation Puff Adder and conventional policemen attached to Kagara division to secure the division.
“In the process, one of the vigilante members attempted to snatch a rifle from the station guard, he was shot and sustained a bullet wound.
“However, normalcy has since been restored in the area and the commissioner of police, Adamu Usman, enjoins the good people of Niger State to be law abiding and go about their normal businesses.
“The police warned residents that they should not take laws into their hands no matter the provocation, as measures are being put in place to safeguard their lives and properties.
“He further directed the deputy commissioner of police in charge Investigation to launch a full scale investigation into the incident to unravel the root cause of the unfortunate incident and bring the perpetrators to book,” the police statement said.