From Rejoice Ojodubinwu, Lokoja
At least 23 persons are believed to have been killed in gunmen attack on Tawari community in the Kogi Local Government Area of Kogi State, in what a knowledgeable source said appeared to be revenge killings from bandits for the killing of four of their own on Abuja – Lokoja road last week.
The gunmen burnt buildings, including the palace of the king of the community.
It was gathered that the Vigilance Group from Tawari had a hand in the killing of the bandits and the arrest of bandits’ informants around the area.
“The community people said a few days before the attack on them, they observed that Fulani settlers and herdsmen began moving out, but they read no serious meaning to it. They are not sure if the gunmen who attacked the community tipped off the settlers and herders to move out to avoid collateral damage or they worked together,” a source said.
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of the Kogi State Police Command, Williams Anya, confirmed the attack on Tawari in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lokoja on Friday.
He said a police assessment team had visited the community and that many buildings, including places of worship had been burnt.
Tawari community is a few kilometres off Gegu town along the Lokoja-Abuja highway.
A resident of Tawari community, Comfort Solomon, who survived the attack, told NAN that the gunmen, numbering about 100 invaded the community late on Thursday.
She said the gunmen came in their numbers on motorcycles and descended on the village, killing and burning buildings until the early hours of Friday.
Mrs Solomon said many places of worship, including the palace of the Akuma of Tawari were burnt down by the invaders.
“The gunmen were up to 100 in number. They came into the community with motorcycles around 11:15 p.m. when villagers were sleeping.
“They entered selected houses, packed foodstuff and motorcycles and burnt selected houses, including homes of clerics.
“They killed more than 15 men. The attackers were communicating with each other in Hausa language,” Solomon stated, weeping profusely.
Similarly, a NAN correspondent in Minna, Niger, Rita Nuhu, an indigene of Tawari, who also spoke to NAN on telephone on the development, said her father’s house was completely burnt down during the attack.
“My people have been calling me from home that my father’s house was burnt down by the attackers.
“My mother and her sister were ordered out of the house after which the house was set ablaze, while about 15 men were killed.
Mrs Nuhu said the latest information she got from her village was that the death toll would rise.
“We are calling on security agencies to bring the perpetrators to justice. We appeal to the federal and state governments to come to our aid,” she pleaded.
The king of Tawari, Idris Yusuf, who also spoke to NAN on telephone, confirmed the incident, saying it was the first time the community was experiencing such attack.
“This is the first time we are witnessing such deadly attack in our community. Our community has been very peaceful.
Mr Yusuf, who is the Aguma of Tawari, said he would provide details on the development as he was busy attending to sympathisers.
Additional reports by NAN