No fewer than 15 people, among them four police officers, and a Catholic priest have been killed by the rampaging bandits in the Northern axis of Nigeria that also abducted 17 other citizens just as a serving police sergeant was nabbed in Rivers State for armed robbery.
Police Sergeant, Ibrahim Odege and one Sampson Inomoghe, were allegedly arrested while carrying out robbery operations at Elekahia Housing Estate in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
In Kano, four other policemen were killed and one other officer kidnapped in an ambush on a police convoy by bandits along Birnin-Gwari Funtua Highway.
Sources say 16 police officers were attacked in the ambush which happened at the weekend. The officers who are attached to Operation Puff Adder were deployed to Niger State in a sustained operation to reclaim public space and tackle incidents of banditry, kidnapping, and other violent crimes in the area.
Spokesman of the Nigeria Police, Frank Mba, a Commissioner of Police, says the officers were heading back to their base in Kano after the completion of their special duty when they were ambushed.
Mba noted on Sunday that a fierce gun-battle ensued, leading to the death of the four officers whose names were not disclosed.
Contrary to unconfirmed reports in some quarters that 18 police officers were kidnapped, Mba said 16 were attacked while 11 successfully repelled the attack and ‘’neutralised the bandits’’ in their tens, with many scampering into the bush with gunshot injuries.
According to him, the 11 officers led by their unit commander successfully recovered the bodies and firearms of their fallen colleagues while concerted efforts are being intensified to rescue the officer still missing.
Continuing, he said Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has commended the police officers attached to the Police Mobile Force – 9 PMF Squadron in Kano for displaying uncommon gallantry and repelling the attack on their convoy.
While commiserating with the families of the officers who have yet again paid the supreme price in the service of the country, the police big boss assured that their death shall not be in vain, and further assured citizens that the police is not deterred and will not relent in its commitment to delivering on its mandate and ensuring that all activities of bandits and other unscrupulous elements in the area and other parts of the country are brought to check.
The suspected police sergeant armed robber in Port Harcourt is however, attached to the Operations Department of the state Police Command. His accomplice, Inomoghe, 32 years old, hails from Nembe, in Bayelsa State, but resides at Rumuokwrushi in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
Spokesperson for the police in Rivers, Nnamdi Omoni, a Superintendent of Police (SP) says the suspects were arrested at about 10 p.m. on Saturday, pointing out that they were arrested by policeman who responded to a distress call at the Elekahia Housing Estate that two armed robbers who were robbing people and dispossessing them of their valuables.
“The timely arrival of the Police led to the arrest of the two armed robbers who were later identified as Sergeant Ibrahim Odege attached to the Operations Department of the Rivers Police Command and one Sampson Inomoghe ‘m’ 32yrs from Nembe in Bayelsa State, but resides at Rumuokwrushi in Obio/Akpor LGA.”
“The duo was arrested at the scene of crime with the following Exhibits: Three different Handsets belonging to their victims and one locally made Bareta Pistol. One of the Victims, Mrs Doris Elechi identified them as those that robbed her of her Tecno Handset, which is one of the exhibits recovered.
“At the Station, the suspects confessed to have carried out the robbery attacks among other revelations.’’
In Kaduna State, bandits have also killed five people, including an 80-year-old woman, in separate attacks on three local government areas -Chikun, Igabi and Giwa.
Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, who confirmed the attacks on Sunday, said the state was informed of the development by security agencies.
Aruwan said some bandits raided several houses at Sharu village in the Igabi Local Government Area, adding that they invaded the village and shot indiscriminately, following which the octogenarian was hit by bullets and died on the spot.
He also pointed out that gunmen invaded the Konti community in Chikun Local Government Area, killing one Samaila Yohana, the ward head of the area, adding in another attack, bandits killed two people — Alhaji Sani and Malam Rabiu, at Dande village, in the same local government area.
He noted that some bandits barricaded the road between Fatika and Kidandan in Giwa LGA, where they fired on travelers, killing one woman and injuring three others.
Aruwan said Governor Nasir El-Rufai, expressed sadness over the attacks and conveyed condolences to the bereaved families, while praying for the repose of the souls of the victims. “He also prayed for speedy recovery for the injured”, he adds.
In Zamfara State, bandits allegedly killed 10 people, with five of them killed in Janbako town of Maradun Local Government Area of the state in an encounter with vigilante group.
A resident, Ibrahim Janbako, is claiming that the bandits numbering about 100 came into the town on motorcycles on Sunday.
“After sighting the bandits tha were carrying sophisticated weapons, everybody ran helter-skelter, but 10 people were shot dead, while several others sustained serious injuries”, Ibrahim said, adding that the vigilante group of the town quickly mobilised to the scene where they faced the bandits.
“In the encounter with the bandits, the vigilante group succeeded in killing five of the bandits”, he said, maintaining that the bandits were forced out of the town by the vigilante. But, they later returned and took away the dead bodies of their colleagues and ran into the forest.
Continuing, Ibrahim said, “we have already buried six people and we are looking into the possibility of burying the remaining four because we fear that the bandits may return to the community for reprisals.”
While Spokesperson for the police in the state, Mohammed Shehu, an SP, says he is unaware of the incident, from Niger State, unidentified gunmen allegedly killed a Catholic priest, Father John Gbakaan, who was the Dean of a newly created Lapai Deanery in the state.
Father John, who was also in charge of St. Anthony’s Parish Gulu in Lapai Local Government Area of the state, was killed along the Lambata-Lapai Road.
A colleague of the deceased and priest in charge of St. Theresa Catholic Parish Madala, Father John Jatau confirmed this on Sunday. He told Channels TV that Father Gbakaan, alongside his brother and another priest, Thursday travelled to Makurdi in Benue State where he went to see his mother.
Jatau noted that it was on his way back, that he and his brother were attacked by gunmen along Lambata-Lapai road, pointing out that the incident took place at about 9 pm after Father Gbakaan had dropped the other priest at Suleja.
While the attackers allegedly descended on the priest with machetes, hacking his body beyond recognition, Jatau said the body of the priest was found the following day, Saturday, tied to a tree in a bush, after some vigilante members in the area raised alarm.
The Toyota Venza vehicle in which the priest was traveling was also found in the bush.
In the mean time, brother of the deceased priest was abducted and yet to be found. According to Jatau, the gunmen on Saturday put a call to the Catholic Diocese in Minna, demanding for the sum of N30 million, but later in the course of negotiation dropped the ransom to N5.00 million.
While the body of the slain priest has been deposited at the IBB Specialist Hospital mortuary in Minna, the state capital, Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Abiodun Wasiu, an Assistant Superintendent of Police is yet to say anything on the incident.
In the same state, 17 people have been abducted by bandits. They were kidnapped in three different communities including Bassa/Kukoki Ward both in Shiroro Local Government Area of the state.
They were allegedly abducted on Saturday night in Madagwa, Wongo and Marenje communities. Five of the victims were abducted from Wongo and Marenje communities while the seven other people were abducted in Madagwa.
Co-convener of Concerned Shiroro Youths, Sani Abubakar Yusuf Kokki, who confirmed the abduction, described the development as very sad, adding that the bandits were yet to make contacts with relatives of those abducted and their whereabouts unknown.
The previous Thursday, 20 people were allegedly abducted from Duguru in Madaka Ward of Rafi Local Government Area of the state. They were said to be on their way to Madaka market and ended up in the hands of bandits.