Nigeria: Christmas Holidays of Blood, Terror  

Akanimo Sampson

Akanimo Sampson

Bloodletting and acts of terror did not give most holiday makers the joy they expected at Christmas in Nigeria. It was indeed, Christmas holidays of blood and terror in parts of Nigeria, a collapsing African giant under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In Jigawa State, while callous gunmen allegedly had a free rein on Christmas Day as they killed two police officers, abducted a nursing mother and abandoned her one-month old baby in a separate incident, in Ekiti State, dare-devils also struck on Christmas Day at about 6pm, abducting travellers along Isan-Iludun Road.

A chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kampala ward of Bosso Local Government Area of Niger State, Ahmodu Mohammed, was allegedly killed by bandits, and his three daughters kidnapped by the bandits.

An eyewitness said the murder of Mohammed, a successful farmer, took place Thursday after the rampaging bandits had paid two previous visits to his community. They were said to have previously attacked traders at the popular Beji market.

A family source is claiming, “this is the third time that the bandits are attacking the man. They have been coming before but they couldn’t succeed because the man is very powerful. He was shot several times before he eventually died.”

Former Niger State Chairman of PDP, Tanko Beji, confirmed the tragic incident, pointing out that the remains of the slain ward leader of the party has been interred according to Islamic injuction. He also confirmed the kidnap of three daughters of the deceased and described the incident “as unfortunate and pathetic”.

However, in the Ekiti attack, a combined effort of the police, Amotekun corps, and local hunters led to the rescue of one of the victims.

While the two police officers were killed during a gun duel with suspected kidnappers at Jargo Fulani settlement of Garki Local Government Area of Jigawa State, Police Public Relations Officer for the state, Abdul Jinjiri, a Superintendent of Police, says the slain officers stormed the hideout of the kidnappers terrorising residents of the area based on earlier intelligence.

He said a joint operation of police divisions under Gumel Area Command was organised on Christmas day at 3:00am to besiege and arrest the criminals, but “unfortunately, the hoodlums on sighting the advancing police, opened fire on them, leading to a serious gun battle.”

The police said it was sad that the hoodlums killed two senior police officers and injured another constable while one of the criminals was also killed, disclosing also that gunmen kidnapped a nursing mother living behind her one-month-old baby in Gujungu town of Taura Local Government Area of the state.

Police said the gunmen also stormed the residence of one Basiru Haruna and whisked away his 23-year-old wife Habashiyya Haruna, lamenting that the incident was only reported after about eight hours, making it difficult for operatives to trace the kidnappers.

“Reporting late doesn’t help. How can the police rescue the victim when the criminals have left for over eight hours? People must learn to report to the police early. And for the husband to run away leaving his wife and baby behind, creates a lot of doubts”

In Ekiti, a joint effort of the police, Amotekun corps and hunters on Christmas Day rescued a victim, Oluwaseun Fatile, out of two persons that were kidnapped by gunmen. The incident happened along Isan-Iludun Road at about 6pm, when the commuters were stopped by gun-wielding bandits.

Security agencies as at the weekend, were still making efforts to rescue the second abductee, Happiness Ajayi, from her captors.

Former Commissioner for Agriculture in Ekiti, Folorunso Olabode, was kidnapped along that route, while one of his political associates was shot dead by the gunmen. From Iludun Ekiti, a source confirmed to newsmen in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, on Saturday that the driver of a vehicle coming behind the victims quickly alerted the police and Amotekun corps of the development.

“The people immediately called the police in Oye-Ekiti and Amotekun corps who were joined by local hunters and gave the gunmen a hot chase into the bush and rescued one of the victims.”

Police spokesman, Ekiti State Command, Sunday Abutu, says men of the state command at Oye Divisional Police Station worked with other local security outfits to rescue one of the victims.

Amotekun Corps Commander in Ekiti, Joe Komolafe, a retired Army Brigadier-General, says the victims were waylaid by the gunmen and opened fire on them when they stopped their vehicle.

Komolafe explains that his men who were on routine patrol gave the kidnappers a hot chase and rescued Oluwaseun, and called on residents of the state not to panic as his men in collaboration with other security agents would ensure the safe return of the victim and maximum security of the highways during the Yuletide.

Armed bandits continued their onslaught on communities across Niger State as seven people were killed in Kusasu in Shiroro Local Government Area on Friday night while several houses of those who escaped the attacks were set ablaze by the bandits.

One of the people killed in Kusasu was said to have been set ablaze when both bullets and knife cuts could not penetrate him.

Those killed in Kusasu included two women and four men.

Nemesis, however, caught up with the driver of the bandits as men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC) in Shiroro arrested him on Friday.

From Kaduna State comes the report that Chairman of Pentecostal Fellowship Association of Nigeria (PFN) in the state, Apostle Emmanuel Egoh Bako, and his wife, Cindy Bako, were abducted by gunmen in Jema’a Local Government Area.

The cleric and his wife were kidnapped alongside one Mr. Douglas after the gunmen stormed the Albarka praying camp along the Afana-Fadan Kagoma-Kwoi Road.

They allegedly fired sporadically in the air before whisking away the three victims.

Internal Security and Home Affairs Commissioner, Samuel Aruwan, in a statement confirmed the incident, pointing out that troops moved to the scene of the abduction and pursued the kidnappers. But, they were able to elope with the victims.

Apostle Bako’s kidnap was also confirmed by Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Chairman, Reverend John Joseph Hayab.

The good news however, is, Bako and his wife, Pastor Cindy Bako have gained their freedom.

Unknown gunmen kidnapped the cleric and his wife at their home in Albarka Camp, at Fadan Kagoma, near Kafanchan. An unidentified young kidnapped along with the apostle and the wife has also been released by the kidnappers.

Secretary of Kaduna PFN, Rev Tony Inwulale, who broke the good news said they are all doing fine and in high spirit. It was however not stated if they were released unconditionally or if a ransom was paid.

In the mean time, no fewer than five persons were killed in two separate gun attacks in Katsina-Ala and Gwer West Local Government Areas of Benue State on Sunday.

While two persons were killed following a suspected cult war in Naka, headquarters of Gwer West Local Government Area, three others were said to have been killed in the home of a politician in Katsina-Ala town, Katsina-Ala Local Government area of the state in the early hours of yesterday.

Sources say rival cult groups stormed the High Level area of Naka and shot sporadically, killing two people and injuring many others. The situation caused residents of the area to scamper for safety while some, thinking that herdsmen were responsible for the attack, ran into the bush that night.

“We all took to our heels when we heard the gunshots. Some of us slept in the bush till morning. By the time we returned this morning, we heard that two people were killed while others were injured”, one of the sources said.

Local correspondents report that the late night’s attack on Katsina-Ala town happened at Hon. Ianna Jato’s country home, Nagu community, where three people were killed, houses burnt and property destroyed.

Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Catherine Anene, says the incident happened around 1am on Sunday. “On 27/12/2020 at about 1am, a gunshot was heard in High Level area of Naka town and police officers were deployed to the area.

“Two persons were arrested at the scene of crime while two young men were found in a pool of blood. Victims were rushed to hospital but confirmed dead”, she said.

While she further disclosed that five more suspects have been arrested in connection with the attack, adding that investigation was already in progress, she equally confirmed the attack by unknown gunmen in Kastina-Ala town where she said three persons, a man, his wife and their child were killed.

And, in Borno State, the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency, residents were fleeing their homes as the insurgents attacked four villages in the southern part of the bleeding state.

Local sources on the run say the attack was ongoing as of 9pm on Saturday. The insurgents allegedly drove in with at least 10 Toyota Hilux vans, and were first seen around Mandara Dirau at about 1pm. They were said to have proceeded unchallenged through parts of villages identified as Debiro, Tashan Alade, Tirgitu, and Shaffa town shooting sporadically, looting food items, and setting houses ablaze.

Villages attacked are situated within Hawul and Shaffa Local Government Areas of the state.

Terrified villagers were said to have hidden in nearby mountains, except for the old and the sick that were feared to be stuck in the mayhem. For fear of attacks, farmers in remote villages resorted to storing their harvested food in rented stores at the headquarters of Biu Local Government.

It was learnt that despite distress calls to security forces, the terrorists were not repelled. Insurgents have been launching attacks since Thursday where a Chibok village was ransacked during a Christmas eve carol night.

A similar attack was also launched in Garkida, an Adamawa town bordering southern Borno. Saturday’s attack was the third in three days with no word from the military. Details of Saturday’s attacks remained sketchy as villagers were still in hiding.

Insurgents have looted and destroyed four communities in the troubled state, with three persons – two local hunters and a resident – killed during the attack on Tashan Alade, Shafa, Azare, Sabon-Kasuwa and Debro, all in the Hawul Local Government Area on Saturday.

Thousands of bags of farm produce recently harvested by farmers were alleged to have been stolen by the insurgents who also emptied shops.

The report of the attack was given to Governor Babagana Zulum, on Sunday during his visit to the affected communities.

Zulum’s spokesman, Isa Gusau, says his principal travelled from Maiduguri to Katsina and Abuja on Thursday for series of scheduled activities, which he had to cut short following the attack. He also revealed that schools, shops, police station, and places of worship were destroyed by the insurgents, with three persons killed in Shafa.

Gusau says the governor has visited Yimirshika, Azare, Sabon-Kasuwa and Shafa, inspect all property destroyed, and has ordered for their immediate reconstruction.

Adding, he said, “in Shafa, Zulum ordered the provision of six patrol vehicles and other components to strengthen local security network. Also in Yamirshika, Zulum directed the provision of surveillance vehicles to hunters and vigilantes.”

Boko Haram and a splinter group known as the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) have launched a series of attacks in Nigeria for more than a decade now. More than 30,000 people have been killed and nearly three million displaced in a decade of Boko Haram violence, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The UN refugee agency says violence by Boko Haram has affected 26 million people in the Lake Chad region and displaced 2.6 million others.

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