Residents of Etogi village in Gbara ward of Mokwa Local Government Area in Niger State are yet to return to their homes three days after gunmen attacked the village Mosque killing 20 persons.
The attackers, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, attacked the village in the early hours of Sunday.
Survivors of the attack have taken refuge at a nearby village, Kpata Katcha.
The attackers were reported to have swooped on the villagers while they were praying in a mosque, killing everyone, including the imam.
An official of the state government told PREMIUM TIMES that apart from those in the Mosque, the attackers also killed more persons, especially women, in their houses.
“From all indications, the attackers knew the victims very well because after killing those inside the Mosque, they went to some Houses of well to do women, killed and robbed them,” he said.
The official, who declined to be named because he was not permitted to speak to the press on the matter, also said the attackers vandalised a “phone charging shop where most of the villagers left their phones to charge overnight”.
Some of the villagers, who also asked not to be named for fear of further attacks, told PREMIUM TIMES that the attackers took away their cellphones.
“In fact, we have called some of the lines and the attackers picked the calk and told us that they will still come back and finish us, that is why we have not gone back,” one of them said.
The official who spoke to us said the attack may have been a reprisal attack because the villagers have a history of altercation with herdsmen.
“We understand that the villagers imposed some kind of land use act on the herders some time ago, which led to some misunderstanding,” he said.
Other accounts said a Fulani youth was killed after the earlier altercation and Sunday’s attack may be as a result of that killing.
The spokesperson of the Police in the state, Bala Elkana, a DSP, who confirmed the incident on Monday, said the attack was unexpected as the issue surrounding the killing of the herdsman had earlier been resolved.
Mr. Elkana said the police had been mobilised to the area to keep peace.
Efforts to reach Mr. Elkanah on Monday and Tuesday were unsuccessful. He did not answer repeated calls to his phone.
He also told Channels Television that three suspects had been arrested in connection with the attack.
Law will takes its course
Governor Abubakar Bello has said that the law will take its course over the attack.
Speaking through his spokesperson, Jibrin Ndace, on Tuesday, Mr. Bello said he had always asked citizens of the state “to avoid taking the law into their hands”.
Mr. Ndace said Mr. Bello, who is currently on a tour of local gvernments in the state always ask the people of the state to monitor activities around them and report any suspicious activity to relevant agencies early.
He also said the deputy governor, Ahmed Ketso, who is from the affected area, has led a delegation from the state government to the village.
Mr. Ndace also said the government had already made an undisclosed monetary support to the affected villages.
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