Despite the Nigerian military’s efforts to end banditry, at least 31 people have been killed this week in different locations in the country including Niger, Kaduna and Zamfara states.
The latest incident resulted in the killing of 21 people in the Shiroro local government area of Niger state on January 2, 2021. About 40 other people were reported abducted.
Reports say that more than 300 bandits riding motorcycles and carrying sophisticated weapons invaded Kurebe, Sabon-gida, Sarari and Rafin Kanya in Niger state.
“They moved from community to community shooting sporadically,” an eyewitness said.
A member of staff of the Shiroro local government council, Mr Galadima Salisu, described the incident as “a massacre”.
“I am afraid that our area will be completely taken over by bandits who now operate at will,” he said.
Niger State Government Secretary Ahmed Matane confirmed the incident and said the attack appeared to be a reprisal because some vigilantes that were not involved in the last invasion of the area were killed.
Matane said the bandits must have crossed into the state from Kaduna state.
“Government has assessed the situation; we have deployed air force personnel to the area. Their helicopters are now combing the forest looking for the bandits,” he said.
Matane said those injured were taken to “nearby hospitals for treatment”, adding that government will cater for their treatment.
The Kaduna state government also reported an attack by bandits in different locations, in which seven people were killed.
The government said that three people were killed in Warsa Piti, in Mariri District of Lere local government area, and four were killed in Igabi and Chikun local government areas.
Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan said the bandits invaded the communities late on Monday night and began shooting sporadically.
Aruwan said troops were mobilised to the location and engaged the assailants who fled into the forest.
Mr Mustapha Jafaru, spokesman of the Zamfara state House of Assembly, also reported that three people were killed on Tuesday night when bandits invaded the Speaker’s country home in Magarya, Kanwa District.
Jafaru said on Wednesday that the bandits also torched several houses, killed animals and destroyed foodstuffs during the attack.
Meanwhile, the federal government has reported that no fewer than 158 bandits, terrorists and criminal elements have been killed by the military across the country since January 2021.
Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed said in Abuja on February 2, 2021 that the figure did not include scores of other terrorists and armed bandits killed in airstrikes.
Mohammed said some 52 criminal elements were arrested, with scores of arms, ammunition and equipment being recovered, while troops also rescued a total of 17 kidnapped victims across the country.
He said that a total of 684,856 barrels of stolen crude oil, 1,724,000 litres of stolen automotive gas oil and 500,000 litres of dual purpose kerosene were recovered.
He said 118 armed bandits were killed in the North West alone and a total of 11 kidnap victims were rescued within the same period.
“A total of 11 arrests were made and those arrested include high- profile armed bandits, gun runners and bandits’ collaborators,’’ he said.
In the North East, the minister said 30 terrorists, including some of their commanders, were killed by troops and scores of others were killed in air raids.
He said several gun trucks were seized in addition to the 13 which were recently captured in Marte, Borno, while others were destroyed by the troops.