The bloodletting in Nigeria continued unabated on Sunday as the Police confirmed attacks by armed bandits in which 51 people were killed in Kerawa, Rago, Marina, Zariyawa, Hashimawa and Unguwar Barau communities in Kerawa ward, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Northwest Nigeria.
And as has become the custom after every of such attacks and destructions, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement on Monday night by Presidential Spokesperson, Malam Garba Shehu, expressed “deep sadness and regret,” pledging to stop their murderous enterprises.
Saying that the bandits are “unleashing their fury and frustration on innocent people because of the ongoing military and police offensive against them in the Birnin Gwari and Kaduru forests,” President Buhari said that his “administration would not be blackmailed by criminals to abandon the current military operations against them.”
President Buhari assured the people of Kaduna State and other parts of the country that this government would continue to deploy all available resources to fight these cold-hearted bandits with a view to bringing them to their knees.
According to the President, “these criminals should make no mistake that they can establish a reign of terror on the people without feeling the full might of the government which was elected to protect the citizens.
“The criminals cannot be lucky always; we are determined to frustrate and defeat them, and no matter how long they run or where they hide, they would be smoked out and brought to justice.”
Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, who visited the communities ravaged by the attacks and killings on Monday apologised for his administration’s inability to protect the people.
But the Kaduna State Police Command Spokesperson, Mr Muhammad Jalige could not confirm the casualty figure of 51 dead, only saying: “Yes, there was an attack. In fact, as we speak, I am in the entourage of the Commissioner of Police. We are going to the scene. When we come back, I will get back to you.” He never did.
But the Councilor of Kerawa Ward who represents the area in the Local Government Council, Mr Dayyaby Kerawa, stated that the total of 51 persons who were killed during the attacks were buried around 4pm on Sunday.
He added that those who sustained injuries were taken to hospital for treatment.
Kerawa also said that many residents of the attacked villages fled as the bandits also set many houses ablaze and carted away foodstuffs.
According to him, “we don’t know who they were. They only stormed the villages and started shooting people. As we speak, 51 people have been buried while the injured were taken to the hospital. Nobody knew about the incident on time because there was no network in the affected villages.”
Mr Kerawa also said security agencies later visited the scene but left.
A source said that the killings were revenge attacks launched against them by the security forces who had earlier in the last few weeks bombarded the bandits camps in the neighboring Birnin-Gwari local government area.
Said the source, “if you remember, few weeks ago, Policemen raided the bandits’ camp and killed over 200 of them. Soldiers and Air Force also attacked the bandits few days ago and they also killed many of them. So, these people believe we are the ones giving the security operatives information about their movement and camps. Some of the villagers who escaped from the attackers said, the bandits were saying it in Hausa language that, the villagers were ones reporting them to the security.
“I don’t live in any of those villages, but people often run from some of the villages to take refuge here. The villages have actually been suffering in the hands of the bandits for a long time. They invade the villages and kidnap people unchallenged. That is why they became the first suspects to the bandits.”
Kaduna State has for a long time been a haven for violence caused by murderous herdsmen, armed bandits and kidnappers.
Civilians and security have been attacked and killed repeatedly with the latest being on February 12 last month at Bakali village in Fatika District of Giwa Local Government Area of the state when bandits stormed the village and killed 16 members of the same family and five others including members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF).
The bandits had stormed Bakali around 4pm where they locked up about 16 members of the same family and set the house on fire.
A day later, gunmen opened fire at Maro Market in Kajuru Local Government Area of the State in the evening and instantly killed seven people, leaving many injured.
One of the most devastating incidents within the last six months took place in Igabi Local Government Area of the State in October 2019 when bandits killed three members of a vigilante group.
They surrounded 16 villages and farmlands and ordered the residents to leave their homes or face attacks.
The incident saw thousands of women and children relocate to the Local Education Authority Primary School, Birnin Yero for refuge.