Buhari expresses grief as death toll in Borno, Katsina rise

  • Bandits murder 66 in Katsina
  • Attack barbaric, says Borno gov
  • Army vows to hunt down killers

President Muhammadu Buhari wednesday expressed shock over Tuesday’s deadly terror attack on a village in Borno State, whose death toll has now risen to 81.

The attacked village, Foduma Kolomaiya, which is about 11 kilometres away from Gazaure town of Gubio Local Government Area of the state, is not near any major highway.

Residents of the village told the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, during a visit to the scene of the attack that the number of those killed had risen from the initial 70 to 81.

Also, in the president’s home state of Katsina, some 66 people were killed when bandits attacked some communities in Faskari Local Government Area.

The Nigerian Army, which regretted the attacks on communities in the two states, has vowed to apprehend and neutralise them.

In a statement yesterday by presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, the president said he was appalled by the brutal killings of scores of people by the Boko Haram/Islam in West Africa Province (ISWAP) in Gubio village of Borno State.

He described the attack as one of the most brutal terrorist attacks on innocent people from the North-east.

The statement said the president was awaiting a detailed briefing on the incident from Zulum, based on the outcome of his visit to the affected communities.

“The primordial nature of the killings is particularly shocking because it happened not long after the Ramadhan and Eid, and the country is preparing to celebrate the Democracy Day,” the president said.

He condemned the incident and charged the armed forces to sustain their recent string of successes against the terrorists “to extract a heavy price from the attackers, and bring back all those they kidnapped as well as the large number of cattle rustled.”

The president expressed condolences to the bereaved families, communities, the government and people of Borno State.

Earlier, villagers told Zulum, during his visit to Gubio to sympathise with them and assess the damage, that the casualty figure had risen to 81.

A statement by the governor’s spokesman, Mallam Isa Gusau, quoted the villagers as saying that the insurgents abducted a village head along with six others.

“A survivor told Zulum that 81 residents were killed during the attack on Tuesday with 13 persons injured and seven others, including village head was abducted,” the statement added.

One of the villagers had earlier told reporters on the phone that the insurgents operated for about two hours unchallenged with the initial bodycount put at 70 while 300 cows were also killed in the attack and over 1,000 cows rustled.

A top security officer who spoke anonymously to THISDAY yesterday, said the news of the attack was broken to them in Maiduguri, the state capital on Tuesday night.

He said: “We were told over 70 people were killed by Boko Haram in the attack on a village in Gubio Local Government Area.

“I am heading there with other security teams to assess the loss. We are on our way with the governor who is going to the town this morning (Wednesday).”

A credible source in the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) had earlier told THISDAY that the attack was launched about noon on Tuesday.

He said the terrorists arrived in vehicles and motorcycles, shooting sporadically with AK-47 rifles, razing the village and stealing 1,200 cattle and camel.

He said the insurgents accused the residents of sharing information on Boko Haram’s movements with security authorities.

The village was overwhelmed as the insurgents came in large numbers with sophisticated weapons.

He said the people killed were about 70, with the assailants rustling about 1,000 cows and killing over 300 others.

He added that the attack lasted over two hours with some houses torched.

Some of the residents that fled to Gubio told THISDAY on phone that it was a sad tale as no one came to their rescue during the attack.

One of them, Modu Habu, said: “They (Boko Haram) came in drove and started shooting indiscriminately at us, they killed old and young, women, men and children. Even our animals were shot at.

“Some of us had to flee for our lives as the assailants had no intention of showing mercy to anyone and there was no rescue in sight.

“It is difficult for me to exactly state the number of people killed, and other losses, as we were all in shock and I was lucky to be among the few that are alive to narrate the story.

“All I could say is that over 70 persons were killed, over 300 cows fired and around 1,000 lined up and carted away.”

The attack in Borno is coming a few days after the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, returned to Abuja from Maiduguri after spending two months coordinating the war against insurgency.

Buratai had said troops killed over 1,000 insurgents within the period.

Zulum was in Faduma Kolomdi yesterday to assess the situation and to commiserate with the injured and bereaved families.

A survivor told the governor that 81 residents were killed during the attack with 13 persons injured and seven others, including the village head, abducted.

While sympathising with the people over the attack, Zulum described the attack as babaric and unfortunate.

He evacuated five injured persons in his convoy, for treatment at an undisclosed hospital.

“Last year, about same number of people were killed in Gajiram like it happened again. This is barbaric. It is very unfortunate. The only solution to end this masacare is by dislodging the insurgents in the shores of Lake Chad. Doing so will require collaborative regional efforts,” Zulum said.

A villager, described as the only survivor of the attack, told Zulum the insurgents operated for about six hours.

“They gathered us and said they wanted to deliver religious sermon to us. They asked us to submit whatever arm we had. Some villagers gave up their dane guns, bow and arrows. The insurgents pretended as if they were not there for any violence. Suddenly, they started shooting at will. “Even children and women were not spared. Many were shot at close range. Many started running. At the end end, many persons were killed. We have been burying people from 10:00pm last night to about 6am this morning. We have buried 49 corpses here while another 32 corpses were taken away by families from the villages around us. The insurgents abducted seven persons, including our village head. They went away with 400 cattle,” he said.

Bandits Kill 66 in Katsina Communities

The rampaging bandits who stormed the five communities of Kadisau, Kabalawa, Kwakware, Wahabi and Raudama in Katsina State, also forced thousands of residents to flee their ancestral homes.

The bandits were also reported to have killed 10 people in Maiganguma, Makera and Unguwar Zango villages of Dandume LGA of the state.

The former Chairman of Faskari LGA, Mr. Bala Ado, who confirmed the attacks to THISDAY in a telephone interview yesterday, said the bandits left over 30 persons with varying degrees of injuries during the attacks.

According to him, the bandits, numbering over 150, and riding on motorcycles, simultaneously attacked the affected communities.

He said they killed 38 persons in Kadisau community and injured 30 people, mostly women and children, who are currently receiving treatment at the General Hospital, Funtua.

He added that the bandits also rustled hundreds of animals, set ablaze thousands of houses, shops, grains stores and kidnapped many women and children.

He said: “The bandits arrived Kadisau community at about 5.24p.m on Tuesday when most children were playing football and started shooting sporadically. They killed 38 people on the spot and injured 30 others who are currently receiving treatment at Funtua General Hospital.

“They also killed nine people in Kabalawa, five in Kwakware, three in Unguwar Wahabi and one person in Raudama village respectively. The bandits burnt grains stores, shops and rustled unspecified number of cattle.

“They spent over two hours carrying out the attacks without any intervention from security personnel. They moved to Sabon Layin Galadima and Maigora villages and rustled hundreds of domestic animals belonging to residents of the areas.

“These notorious bandits also killed 10 people in Makera, Unguwar Zango and Maiganguma villages of Dandume Local Government.”

He alleged that the bandits terrorising Faskari communities were from Tsafe Local Government Area of Zamfara State.

“These bandits are from Tsafe Local Government of Zamfara State; their leaders are often seen in Tsafe town, Munhaye Daji and Dangibga communities of Zamfara State,” he added.

The spokesman of the Katsina State Police Command, Mr. Gambo Isah, a Superintendent of Police (SP), however, told journalists that the bandits killed only 20 people in Kadisau community.

He said: “Yesterday (Tuesday), we received a report that armed bandits, numbering over 200, attacked Kadisau village of Faskari Local Government Area.

“According to the report, the bandits went there with the intent to steal food items and other materials from the villagers but the youths and other people came out resisted these bandits as a result of which they started shooting sporadically and killing instantly 14 members of that community and injuring 26 of them.

“The injured were taken to the hospital and this morning and we received another report that six among those victims died while receiving treatment making the number to 20. Members of the security agencies are currently in that area”.

He added that security personnel had captured many enclaves of bandits in Danmusa and Batsari Local Government Area.

According to him, “what we are witnessing in the upsurge of this crime is as a result of the declaration made by the federal and the state governments that there should not be any space for any bandit to operate in this country.

“We are not going to relent; we are going to continue persistently with our mission to ensure that all the bandits’ enclaves are destroyed to ensure that banditry in Katsina is no more.”

Army Vows to Hunt down Killers

Reacting to the attacks yesterday, the Nigerian Army expressed sadness over the incident and vowed to apprehend the attackers.

A statement by the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, said troops had been deployed in Faduma Koloram village to deal with the perpetrators.

“We have also mandated the Theatre Command, Operation LAFIYA DOLE to enhance security, dominate the area and reassure the affected communities of the Nigerian Army’s commitment to protect the population,” he stated.

On the banditry in the North-west, the army attributed the escalation in attacks on Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara on interstate movements by the bandits.

It said: “It has come to our knowledge that some bandits are shifting base and venting their anger on hapless citizens because of the ongoing operations in Katsina State. While we sympathise with fellow Nigerians and the good people of Borno, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara States in particular, on these unfortunate incidents, we would like to assure all of our unrelenting effort in engaging with communities to rid our society of any and all remnants of these criminal elements.

“We would like to assure that these types of heinous crimes will not go unpunished and will not be allowed anywhere in our country.”

House Urges Armed Forces to Patrol Vulnerable Communities

The House of Representatives has called on the armed forces to intensify patrol of all the vulnerable communities in the hinterland and ensure the protection of such villages from Boko Haram insurgents.

It also urged the North East Development Commission to provide support to the villages.

The resolutions followed the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance, titled, ‘Boko Haram attack in two villages of Foduma Koloram and Ban Ngudorum Gubio Local Government Area of Borno State,’ sponsored by Hon. Usman Zannah

Moving the motion, Zannah said the Boko Haram killed about 96 people on Tuesday.

The lawmaker raised concern about the renewed spate of attacks by the insurgents in recent time and the vulnerable state of the communities.

Adopting the motion, the House members observed a minute silence in honour of the dead.

Similarly, the House while adopting a motion titled ‘Need to come to the aid of communities in Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State, ravaged by rainstorms,’ urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to assess the damage caused by the rainstorm of May 31, 2020 and provide relief materials to the affected families, places of worship and businesses to cushion the effect of the disaster.

It also mandated its Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness to ensure compliance.

The motion was sponsored by Hon. Kpam Jimin Sokpo.

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