© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
The killing spree continues in Zamfara State, dozens reported killed in one week
THE massive bloodletting in Zamfara State, courtesy of bandits and kidnappers, is not easing up anytime soon as dozens of people have been reported killed in the last week.
On March 1, ThisDay newspaper reported that 14 persons were killed in an attack by unknown gunmen on a community called Bagega, in Anka local government area of the state. Over 40 persons were also reported to have been abducted in the attack.
During the attack, several cars, houses and shops were burnt to ashes with an unspecified number of animals and foodstuffs carted away by the bandits, the report stated.
Clement Abiade, a Major in the Nigerian Army who is also the spokesperson of Operation Sharar Daji, confirmed the incident but refused to go into details. Operation Sharar Daji is the military exercise that was launched to combat the insecurity challenges in Zamfara State.
Similarly, Premium Times reported, on March 2, that 29 persons, mostly members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) were killed during an attempt to repeal an attack by bandits in Kwari community, Shinkafi LGA.
The CJTF is a local vigilante group that is supporting the police and the army in providing security in their communities. They were said to be accompanying some traders to the market when they were ambushed by armed bandits and killed. Some reports put the number of dead at 30.
On Tuesday, March 5, BluePrint newspaper reported that another 23 persons, also comprising many CJTF members, were killed in another attack in Danjibga village, Tsafe LGA of Zamfara State. The attack happened on Sunday, March 3.
A resident of the area, Mustafa Danjibga, told the paper that the attackers, numbering over 100, came in several motorcycles at 1:00 pm, but were again confronted by members of the CJTF.
“During the exchange of gunfire with CJTF, some communities of Kwaren Ganuwa, Keta villages mobilised themselves to counter the bandits, and in the process, the bandits killed 23 of our CJTF operatives,” Danjibga said, adding that the people killed were buried on Monday.
The ICIR contacted the spokesman of the Zamfara State police command, Mohammed Shehu, when the story of the fresh attack broke on Monday, but he neither confirmed nor denied the attacks, saying that the police will issue an official press statement.
He requested the reporter to send a WhatsApp mobile number to enable him to send the press release when it is released, but he is yet to send anything as at past 1 pm on Thursday.
Zamfara State has remained a hotbed for banditry, kidnapping and violence killings in recent months.
On February 5, Ahmad Salkida, a journalist who has covered the insecurity situation in Northern Nigeria for several years, reported that seven soldiers were killed on Monday, February 4, 2019, while another 14 victims of violent killings were buried on Tuesday, February 5. One of them was Ade Marafa, the sister to Kabiru Marafa, the serving senator representing Zamfara Central in the National Assembly.
Once a contingent of policemen deployed to the state was wiped out. But the police headquarters in Abuja said only 16 of its personnel were killed in the attack and that many of the bandits were also killed by the police. But a police officer who pleaded anonymity had told Premium Times that over 50 policemen were killed in the attack.
The Governor of Zamfara had said he supports the call for the federal government to declare a state of emergency in the state.
Curiously, however, the obvious security challenge did not appear to have much effect on the presidential and national assembly elections held on Saturday, February 23.
According to the final results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), out of the total number of 1,717,128 registered voters in the state, 597,224 came out to vote.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s APC was declared the winner of the election, polling a total of 438,682, in Zamfara, as opposed to Atiku Abubakar’s 125,423.
Many have expressed misgivings at the relatively large number of people that purportedly came out to vote amid the glaring insecurity in the state.