Armed persons Monday attacked some communities in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, killing eight persons, including the head of a local vigilante group.
The head of Madaka vigilante group, Isiya Madaka, who spoke on behalf of his group and similar ones in neighbouring communities, provided information on the attack to PREMIUM TIMES.
He said the armed men bore AK-47, AK-49, rocket propelled grenade (RPG), and another local gun called “mai jigida.”
He said his group and other local vigilante groups from adjoining villages worked together to repel the attackers.
Despite their efforts, however, eight people were killed, he said.
The victims include Dan Asabe, the head of the vigilante group from Mariga, another community in the local government.
“We also killed many of the bandits but we can’t ascertain their numbers,” he said.
“The best among our young vigilantes were killed yesterday, it will be very hard for us to be able to replace them.”
Niger State police commissioner, Usman Adamu, also confirmed the attack, saying it was triggered by a clash between cattle rustlers and some local vigilante groups.
He, however, said he is not aware of residents fleeing their communities. Asked if security personnel would be deployed to confirm if residents were fleeing, he said “it’s in a forest.”
Also, the spokesperson of the police in Niger, Wasiu Abiodun, directed all comments on the attack to the military, whom he said were having an operation in the local government.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian defence headquarters in a tweet Tuesday on its verified Twitter handle said the military “through its air component of operation GAMA AIKI neutralized several armed bandits at Maguga in Rafi LGA.”
ARMED FORCES OF NIGERIA NEUTRALIZES ARMED BANDITS THROUGH ITS AIR COMPONENT OF OPERATION GAMA AIKI AT MAGUGA IN NIGER STATE
The Armed Forces of Nigeria through its Air Component of Operation GAMA AIKI neutralized several armed bandits at Maguga in Rafi LGA
— DEFENCE HQ NIGERIA (@DefenceInfoNG) April 21, 2020
One too many
In response to the tweet, a youth from the community, Abdulateef Lawal, said “nothing has been done in Rafi Local Government, our people are (being) killed everyday.”
PATHETIC LIES: Nothing has been done in Rafi Local Government, our people are been killed everyday, just yesterday, 8 vigilantes were killed including the head of vigilantes of Mariga local government. I am from Kagara, Rafi LG.
— #EndCovid-19 (@lawal_ajt) April 21, 2020
In a separate interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Lawal said the attack is one of many. He said only a week ago, an attack by armed bandits on a nearby community led to the many residents fleeing for neighbouring villages, some of whom “are in Bosso primary school right now as IDPs.”
“Outright lies,” he said of the tweet by the defence headquarters. “I have never been disappointed on Nigerian Army like I am today.”
Some residents, he added, have fled the community for Kagara, the headquarters of Kafi local government.
Also, the secretary of the state’s Northern Youth Ambassadors of Nigeria in Madaka, Yusha’u Ibrahim, said two months ago, bandits declared a 7:00 p.m. to 4:0 a.m. curfew in their community.
He said between mid-March and mid-April, five people were killed in similar attacks with 21 others kidnapped and about the same number injured.
“As it is now, the people of my community (Madaka) are no more sleeping in their homes. Some have left the community. Our schools have been closed since last year,” Mr Ibrahim told PREMIUM TIMES.
“Our basic need at this present situation is to seek for security that can camp with us in our community as these were the measures put in place to our neighbouring community that armed Bandits were terrorising.”
A similar account was given by Audu Madaka, 45, who said the district head of Madaka, was recently abducted alongside seven others, two of whom are women.
Mr Madaka, a tailor and a farmer, said they have since then experienced a barrage of attacks from the unknown criminals, which has led many to desert the community.
“Last week Friday they entered our neighbouring community, Ribo. They stole about 500 cows and set over 20 bikes ablaze,” he recalled in Hausa.
“They passed through our community (Madaka) and were shooting. They were about 100. They killed six people and injured many others that are now in hospital.”
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