Following the recent bloody activities of bandits, which led to scores of deaths, in some communities in Mashegu local government area of Niger State, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has visited the communities with a call on the people to be vigilant and observant of the activities in their neighborhood.
There have been reports of reprisal attacks going on in the communities visited by Bello, despite the government’s effort to arrest the spate of violent attacks by suspected gunmen and bandits, an online publication on security matters, PRNigeria reported.
Recall that the state government had on November 3, 2021, set up a Commission of Enquiry, to unravel the cause of the bloody attacks and reprisals.
The eight-man Commission of Inquiry was tasked with investigating killings in Maza-Kuka, Addogon Malam Kulho and other communities in Mashegu Local Government Area of the State.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello gave the Commission one month to submit its report.
He mandated the commission of inquiry led by Hon. Justice Danladi Ahmad to exercise justice and fairness and do a thorough investigation and inquiry, stressing that those found guilty must face punitive measures in accordance with the provisions of the law.
PRNigeria alleges that members of the Commission are yet to visit any of the communities for fact-finding in Mashegu and Kontagora axis, over a month after their inauguration.
“The panel was set up following a reprisal attack by bandits in Maza-Kuka community on October 25, 2021 where at least 16 Muslim worshippers were killed and many injured in a mosque,” a source said.
The following day, according to PRNigeria, gunmen suspected to be the vigilante group of Maza-Kuka invaded Adogon-Malam community, a Fulani settlement, and killed the District Head, his brother and others in retaliation.
Some hoodlums also joined in razing houses, while unspecified number of cattle, and other valuables including a motorcycle were looted.
It was however, learnt that police operatives later arrested the gang members involved in some of the attacks, especially on the mosque in Mazakuka.
While victims of the incessant attacks and unwarranted killings were expecting a visit by the Commission of Enquiry, another set of gunmen on November 8, stormed Ba’are village also in Mashegu Local Government Area and killed over 10 Muslim worshipers in another mosque.
PRNigeria gathered that the attackers first abducted residents but released some of them, especially women.
A security operative told PRNigeria that the senseless killings continued unabated in various communities because no concerted effort was taken by the government to address the grievances of some of the victims.
“The senseless and inexcusable killings in some communities are attributable to the inability of the government to adequately punish those flagrantly taking laws into their hands.
“The reprisal attacks which have the dimension of communal clashes, are fuelled by a long-term feud in the communities.
“In fairness to the governor, he expected the Commission of the Enquiry to have met with the families of the victims and community leaders on condolences and listen to their grievances and provide solutions and compensations to those that deserve them.
“But the Commission is yet to tour any of the affected communities or villages since its inauguration,” the source added.
But taking on the assignment himself, Governor Sani Bello, explained that his visit was aimed at obtaining first hand information on the incidents to enable the government restrategize and plan on how to prevent reoccurrence.
“I decided to come and see what has happened, get first hand information so that we can plan how to stop such things from happening going forward. It is unfortunate that people are being attacked while saying their prayers early in the morning,” Bello was quoted as saying by his spokeswoman, Mrs. Mary Noel-Berje.
At Tugan Ba’ari, Adogon Malam and Mazakuka communities which the Governor visited and interacted with residents, his message was the same.
He empathized with them on the situation and stressed the need for them to make peace and be on the lookout for people with questioable character amongst them.
Governor Sani Bello further urged them to workout modalities on how to fish out bad eggs among them so as to assist the security agents in curtailing the insecurity, pointing out that there cannot be a successful attack without an insider.
“I understand that it is the work of bandits probably with the connivance of some locals. So I call on the community members to pay attention to their neighbours and to be very observant of what is going on around them”, he said.
The Governor then assured the people that government will not rest on it oars in evolving measures that would prevent reoccurrence, expressing optimism that the commission of inquiry he had earlier set up would do a thorough job.
The Council Chairman of Mashegu, Alh. Alhassan Isah Mazakuka disclosed that 17 people were killed, 19 kidnapped and 8 injured at Ba’ari while praying in the mosque last week.
Alh. Isah Mazakuka said some of the victims who sustained injury in the attack are receiving treatment at the General Hospital Kontagora while some were referred to Kebbi State for treatment.
Also speaking, the Ward Head of Tunga Ba’ari Alh. Garba Aliyu described the incident as horrible, explaining that their men and women were taken away by bandits.
He called on government to empower the vigilantes more, reiterating that insecurity in the area is becoming persistent.