Armed bandits in their large numbers on Friday night invaded Magami community in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, killing no fewer than 20 villagers in what source close to the community said was a reprisal by the gunmen.
A number of the villagers are said to be missing, while several others fled to neighbouring communities for safety.
On Wednesday night, the men of the Special Security Task Force, comprising the Police, Local Hunters and Vigilante, launched an attack on the bandits, killing about 40 of them and recovered 16 motorcycles and arms and ammunitions, mostly AK47 rifles.
However a spokesman of the Concerned Shiroro Youths, Mallam Yusuf Abubakar Kukoki, who confirmed the latest killings by the bandits to our Correspondent on telephone on Saturday morning, said the bandits came in their numbers, unleashing terror on members of the community in the night.
According to Kukoki: “Realizing that the combined team of Police Special Force, Hunters and local Vigilantes, who had earlier inflicted heavy casualties on them had returned to their Base at Galadima Kogo, the bandits mobilised and returned like a pride of wounded lions, killing people at sight.
“They murdered and butchered their victims with dangerous weapons.
“Unfortunately, the unarmed, peaceful and defenceless locals are now at the receiving end.
“By reliable records, no fewer than 15 people have gruesomely been murdered by the marauding criminals.
“Six people were confirmed dead at Unguwan Magiro under Madaka Ward, Rafi local government area, four people at Farin Hula and five people at Magami and environs, all under Manta Ward of Shiroro Local Government, while scores of others are still missing – probably killed too.”
Kukoki stated further that many villagers have now fled to Kuta, headquarters of the local government, and other neighbouring villages, where they are now staying as Internally Displaced People.
“Kuta the headquarters of Shiroro local government which is considered a safer ground is swelling up with fleeing IDPs who have since vacated the troubled areas scampering helter skelter for shelter, peace and security,” Kukoki said in the statement.
Kukoki suggested that the “onslaught against criminals need to be a sustained one in order to avoid a replica of this nature,” adding: “Sustained operation can go a long way in halting or avoiding any possible reprisal that could result into unwanted casualties.”
The Concerned Shiroro Youths, he said, is therefore calling with “a loud voice on the authorities concerned to immediately mobilize security personnel as well as local Vigilantes and station same at Magami which is now the epicenter of atrocities being perpetrated by dreaded criminals so as to restore security in the area”.
This, according to him, will guarantee peace and enable the locals to continue with their lawful and legitimate activities.
All efforts to get the reactions of the Chairman of the Local Government Council, Alhaji Sulaiman Chikuba, on phone did not succeed as he did not pick up his cell phone despite several calls made to it
A government official who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the attacks on Kukoki, Bassa, Magami and Madaka villages, saying: “They attacked and killed many people but the number is yet to be ascertained.”
Spokesman of the Niger State Police Command, DSP Wasiu Abiodun, when contacted promised to get back to our correspondent but did not do so until the time of going to press.