Shafiu Mamman and his younger brother, Muhammad, had left their home at Unguwar Majema in the ancient city of Sokoto on Friday to attend the Unguwar Lalleh market for their animal skin trade.
Alas, the brothers had embarked on a journey of no return. Hundreds of other traders and customers going about their businesses in the market also had no premonition that their lives were about to be turned upside down by Nigerian north-west’s implacable bandits.
Unguwar Lalle, a business community in Sabon Birni local government area, was attacked early Friday evening.
Sabon Birni and other local government areas in the eastern part of Sokoto have been plagued by bandits’ activities. To check the activities, the state government shut down weekly markets, cut mobile telecommunications networks and restricted the sale of fuel. Nobody knows, however, why the government did not shut down the market in Unguwar Lalle.
The bandits defied both formal and informal security agents and attacked the market.
How it happened
Umar Majema, a trader, was at the market when the bandits arrived around 3:30 p.m.
“We had just returned from the Jumu’at mosque in the town and activities had picked up again. When they came, they blocked all the entrances to the market while others drove in and started shooting sporadically. I was deep inside the market,” he said.
Mr Majema said he escaped ‘miraculously’ through an obscure exit alongside a few others.
“Shafiu and Muhammad had finished their trading and it was while they were leaving the market that the bandits came. They shot them. I saw the bullets, the blood and the dead bodies. Only God knows how many people were killed,” Mr. Majema, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on phone, said.
Over 200 motorcycles
The coordinator of Rundunar Adalci, a human rights group in Sokoto State, Basharu Altine, said the bandits rode on more than 200 motorcycles to launch the attack.
“They came out of the Gundumi forest on 200 motorcycles. What we gathered from our sources in the area is that, the bandits started shooting sporadically, killed an unknown number of people and carted away goods and foodstuff like rice, spaghetti, groundnut and palm oil and cash,” Mr Altine said.
He also alleged that throughout the attack, no security personnel came to the rescue of the traders.
I have given up – Lawmaker
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES on the attack, the member representing Sabon Birni at the Sokoto House of Assembly, Aminu Boza, said he has given up on finding solution to the insecurity ordeal of his people.
He said the state government has abandoned the people despite the series of attacks on them by bandits.
“What can be more calamitous? I was elected to represent these people but I cannot even go to bury them. I cannot visit my own town, I cannot visit people of my constituency to sympathise with them,” Mr Boza said.
“I cannot say how many people have been killed. Let’s just say over 30. Because immediately after the attack, we coordinated the evacuation and we learnt that 13 bodies were identified. In the night, several bodies were also brought back to Sokoto city. Nobody can say he has the number of those killed, but we have 35 severely wounded people in the hospital. I am the one footing the bills in Wamakko (Sokoto State Orthopedic Hospital).”
The lawmaker accused both the state and federal governments of neglecting his people in their time of trial.
The police spokesperson in the state, Sanusi Abubakar, did not respond to calls and SMS sent to him on the attack.
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