President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Daura, his country home, condemned the recent massacre of over 40 innocent persons in Birane village, Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar also condemned the Zamfara massacre, saying he is appalled by the continued large scale destruction of human lives by criminal groups.
In a statement, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the President commiserated with families of victims of the heinous crime and directed security agencies to immediately mobilise and deploy operatives to vulnerable areas of the state, and ensure that perpetrators face the full wrath of the law.
The statement also said Buhari assured Zamfara State Government, victims of the mayhem and residents of the state that the federal government would do all it takes to support security agencies with view to securing lives and property, not only in the affected state but across the country.
“President Buhari restates his administration’s determination to put an end to the spate of senseless spilling of innocent blood in parts of the country, and calls for restraint to allow the nation’s security apparatus to stem the undesirable trend. The President prays that almighty God will receive the souls of the departed, and comfort their families,” the statement added.
THISDAY was also told last night that a number of strategic military actions had been approved by the President to curtail the killings in Zamfara.
The source said: “The President has approved that the army division in Sokoto be upgraded to a full Brigade, which means that there will be more soldiers for the formation. The battalion in Gusau will be upgraded to a full Brigade and one of the battalions under the Brigade will be composed of Special Forces. The Battalion in Katsina is being upgraded to a full Brigade.”
Atiku Laments Rampant Killings in Zamfara
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has also condemned the latest massacre in Zamfara State during which scores of innocent people were forced out of their vehicles and brutally killed by unknown bandits.
Atiku in a press statement also decried the killings in Rivers, Kaduna, Benue, saying that he is appalled by the continued large scale destruction of human lives by criminal groups.
He said that he was concerned about the frequency of these hideous attacks by criminal gangs.
The former Vice President said that the ease with which criminal groups have access to dangerous weapons in the country is worrisome and disturbing.
“When human beings are falling like flies repeatedly, ambushed by savage mass murderers and killed in cold blood, I wonder what becomes of the sanctity of life”, he said.
Atiku urged for greater vigilance and stricter enforcement of ban on the proliferation small arms and other deadly weapons in the hands of criminals.
“Apart from identifying, arresting and prosecuting arms suppliers, there should be an intensification of efforts by our security personnel”.
He extended his condolence to the Government of Zamfara State and families of the victims.
The massacre at Birani, THISDAY gathered, occurred when the gunmen intercepted a Canter vehicle conveying bridesmaids and traders to the community market and slit the throat of the driver and then opened fire on the vehicle, killing everybody on board.
The bodies of the dead, it was further gathered, were set ablaze by the killers. The bandits, a source said, then proceeded to the community market and shot indiscriminately at all in sight.
The traders were said to have scampered for safety as the bloodthirsty gunmen continued their assault unabated.
“They arrived in large numbers and on motorbikes intercepting and killing people who were either coming or going out of the village. About 41 persons were shot dead within a short period of time,” a resident, Hussaini Abdu, said.
He added that a commercial motorbike rider conveying a woman and her three children was killed and his motor bike burnt.
Police spokesman, Shehu, however, gave a detailed version of the incident in a statement in Gusau.
According to Shehu, the violence started after hunters and local vigilantes mobilised and launched a pre-emptive attack on the bandits when they heard that the outlaws were preparing to attack their community.
He claimed that instead of the residents to give the security operatives timely information to avert the attack, they decided to take the law into their own hands by going out to confront the gunmen.
Shehu said: “On February 13, hunters from Birani Village of Zurmi Local Government Area intercepted and accosted a herder in the bush with some suspected stolen cattle and sheep.
“The herder abandoned the animals and escaped into the bush, but unknown to the hunters, the cattle rustler went to Isah Local Government Area of Sokoto State and mobilised bandits to attack the hunters.
“On February 14, the bandits ambushed the hunters in the bush and there was a clash that led to fatality on both sides.
“Police/Military and other sister agencies reacted by combing the bush and its environs to salvage the situation and discovered 18 dead bodies.
The police spokesman said that the command’s intelligence unit had already embarked on investigation to arrest the perpetrators of the attacks.
Killings Getting Worse Under Buhari, Says Governor Yari
Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State yesterday lamented that Killings in his state were getting worse under President Muhammadu Buhari.
He stated this when he led four other northern governors on a sympathy visit to the palace of the Emir of Zurmi, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in whose domain scores of people were recently killed.
“I feel let down facing the people of this state whenever I remember the promise I made to them that when they elect President Muhammadu Buhari into power, these killings will end. But unfortunately, things are now getting worse,” lamented the governor.
The invasion of the communities on Wednesday night by bandits resulted in the death of 39 persons.
The governor alleged that his administration alerted security agencies to the attack on communities in Zurmi Local Government Area of the state 24 hours before it happened, yet they failed to avert the invasion.
He said security agencies in the area had failed to tackle the problem of cross-border banditry and terrorism bedevilling communities in the area.
Yari said: “Whatever humanly possible that needed to be done, we as a government have done to mitigate this disaster. But it does appear that security agencies are failing in their responsibilities.
“As such, I urge you security agencies to up the ante so as not to lose this war. If you let us take issues on our hands, anarchy will reign, which is not what we hope for.
“On this particular incidence, we had intelligence reports 24 hours before it happened that the bandits were grouping and ready to attack. I alerted the security agencies, but unfortunately they sent inadequate personnel to confront these people from where they came from.”
In his remarks, the Emir echoed Yari’s allegation, adding that but for the bravery of vigilante groups who confronted the bandits, the casualty figure would have been higher. The traditional ruler alleged that 600 bandits made attempt to invade Zurmi but were repelled by vigilantes.
According to him, “They came on 200 motorcycles with three persons on each bike. Each of them was well-armed. We stationed 500 vigilante members who stood their ground and gallantly fought the bandits. Unfortunately, these same bandits turned their anger on travellers and other villagers on their way here; that was why we had 39 people killed.
“These terrorists are known to us. Their major hideout is in a village called Kagara, very close to Bafarawa in Sokoto State, and a few kilometres from Shinkafi in Zamfara State. But despite several appeals to security agencies to storm the area, our appeals have failed.
“I need to state here that majority of the weapons used by bad people in this country are brought in from this area. I had reason to personally inform Zamfara State Director of SSS sometimes back of a large cache of weapons being brought into the country, but no concrete action was taken until the containers were moved away.
“I am happy that other northern governors are here because we believe the solution to this problem lies in cooperation among all of you.
“I don’t need to repeat here that we need a full battalion of soldiers here and in areas surrounding Maru, Maradun, Shinkafi and Zurmi LGAs.”
The Emir said the people had been pushed to the limit and a negative reaction from them will have devastating consequences on the state.
In his own comments, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State appealed to the people not to lose their patience. He sympathised with the victims and prayed to God to grant the deceased eternal rest.
Other governors on the entourage were Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, and Umar Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State.