- Niger mining site, Enugu, Rivers checkpoints attacked •Four Chinese, others abducted •Governors order manhunt for assailants •Army confirms killings
Gunmen went on a killing spree in different parts of the country yesterday, leaving many deaths in their trail.
The bodies of 30 soldiers were allegedly evacuated following a terrorist attack on Ajata-Aboki Mining Site in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State.
The military confirmed the killing of a number of its personnel, but did not give the figure.
In a statement last night, the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the troops were ambushed by the terrorists, while responding to a distress call from a village that was under attack.
Seven riot policemen and two civilians were confirmed killed in the attack.
Four Chinese workers were abducted, but the number of abducted workers remained unknown.
In Enugu State, two policemen were feared killed by gunmen who attacked a checkpoint in the Garki area of the state capital.
Also yesterday, the police in Rivers State confirmed that an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Chris Josiah, was killed by five gunmen in Oyigbo Local Government Area.
Bloody day in Niger
The Niger killings occurred at the mining site in Ajata-Aboki in Gurmana Ward of Shiroro Local Government.
Spokesperson of the Coalition of Shiroro Associations, Salis Sabo, said the bodies of 30 soldiers were recovered.
The Nigerian Army said that “a number of personnel paid the supreme price when troops ran into an ambush in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State”.
The riot policemen were attached to the site to provide security for the expatriate workers.
Many sustained gunshot injuries during the attack in which four Chinese nationals were abducted.
The terrorists, armed with sophisticated weapons, were said to have invaded the mining site, shooting at everyone in sight.
The Niger State Commissioner for Internal Security and Humanitarian Affairs, Emmanuel Umar, confirmed the abduction of four Chinese nationals.
He said a joint security team was mobilized to the scene in response to a distress call.
“The joint security team engaged the terrorists and they were yet to determine the number of casualties from both sides.
“However, a yet to be ascertained number of workers in the mining site, including four Chinese nationals were reported to have been abducted.
“Security forces were reinforced for the manhunt of the remaining terrorists as some of them were neutralized and rescue of the injured victims, including security personnel,” he said.
The commissioner said those injured had been evacuated to government hospitals.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello ordered a manhunt for the terrorists.
Condemning the attack, he said: “This is really disturbing, especially as the state has been relatively peaceful with only pockets of attacks being recorded as compared to some time past.
“It really saddened my heart to hear about this. It is even more worrisome to know that the lives of security personnel were involved and expatriates were also among those kidnapped.”
The governor commiserated with heads of the security agencies that are part of the joint operatives in the state for the loss of their personnel.
He sympathized with the families of slain security agents, assuring them that the sacrifices of their loved ones will not go in vain.
Bello commended the bravery of those who engaged the terrorists in a gunfight.
He appealed to the security personnel not to be discouraged but to remain committed to discharging their duties and ensuring the safe return of the four Chinese nationals and the abducted persons.
The governor prayed for the safe return of those kidnapped.
Gunmen attack policemen in Enugu
At least two policemen were killed in the Enugu attack. It was learnt that there was a heavy shooting at the popular MTD junction in Akwuke as the operatives engaged the gunmen in a shootout.
The attack occurred at about 10.30am, forcing motorists to take refuge in the Gariki Park.
The state police command said its operatives were on the trail of the hoodlums.
The spokesman, Daniel Ndukwe, said the operatives were on stop-and-search when they were attacked.
He said: “There was an attack on policemen on stop and search duty this morning along Agbani Road, close to Enugu/Port-Harcourt Expressway, by yet-to-be identified hoodlums.
“However, details of the incident are still sketchy, while Command’s Tactical/Operational Operatives have been mobilised and are on the trail of the miscreants.”
The statement was silent on the number of casualties.
However, sources in the area said that at least two policemen were feared killed during the attack.
‘How five gunmen killed our officer’
The Rivers police command, in a statement by its spokesman, Grace Iringe Koko, said five masked gunmen shot dead the victim along Assemblies of God Church, Obeama Community, Oyigbo.
She said Josiah was killed in his Sports Utility Vehicle while returning from work on Tuesday.
The statement reads: “The Commissioner of Police has ordered a massive deployment of personnel across Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State to fish out criminal elements and perpetrators of violent crimes against the good people of the area.
“This is coming on the heels of the gruesome murder of an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Chris Josiah, attached to Afam Divisional Police Headquarters in the evening of 28th June 2022, while returning home after work.
“The deceased officer was ambushed by five yet-to-be-identified armed masked men, who opened fire at the Officer along the Assemblies of God Church, Obeama Community, Oyigbo, and shot him dead inside his Lexus RX 300 SUV.
“The Commissioner of Police has equally ordered a full-scale investigation into the incident with a view to unraveling the remote and immediate cause of the attack and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
“He strictly warns that further attacks on police pfficers tasked with the protection of lives and property will not be tolerated by the Police authority.
Bandits rule in Kaduna
Alhaji Abdulra’uf, who was Managing Director of the Kaduna State Media Corporation (KSMC), lamented the rule by bandits in his Kaduna community.
He said the community has paid over N300 million taxes to bandits in two years.
He told reporters that the incessant attacks on his people had paralysed economic activities and made traveling in the area so difficult or even impossible in some places.
He said: “We have reached the point of no return. People are being pushed to the wall.
“Randegi is one of the areas where these bandits have their routes through Zamfara State to Niger State.
“Recently the people of Randegi confronted these bandits who tried to overrun the farming community and they succeeded in dislodging them.
“So, I think our people are now ready if the government cannot perform its constitutional function.”
The community leader, a former broadcaster with DW Radio, said the bandits have for over two years, imposed taxes on the Birnin-Gwari farmers.
He said: “Yes, N200 million was paid to bandits in Randegi District alone.
“When you talk of Birnin-Gwari Local Government as a whole, it is between N300 million to N400 million paid to these bandits.
“There are three stages of paying taxes to these bandits.
“You have to pay pre-season and mid-season when the crops are about to start yielding, otherwise, you won’t have access to your farm.
“Then, at the end of the season when you are harvesting, you will give these bandits money before you access your farm.
“And when you access your farm after paying these taxes, they will now tell you that apart from giving them money, you will give a ratio of two bags of every 10 bags of all the assorted grains you harvest.”
He added: “For the past three years, this is what Birnin-Gwari people have been enduring and we are now in a state of hopelessness and frustration.
“When people are frustrated, they will look for the best option for themselves, which is to arm themselves if the government cannot protect them.
“We are living in a situation where people can no longer work or even travel one kilometre from Birnin-Gwari town to other areas and it is the same thing that we have in all the districts in Birnin Gwari.
“If something is not done, we are going to have food crisis.
“Birnin-Gwari Gwari used to produce at least 700 metric tonnes of assorted grains but now people cannot access their farms.
“There are many cases, since the beginning of this rainy season, that people are being abducted on their way to the farm and even the cattle they use for farming are being collected from them.”
Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, had during the presentation of the 2021 security report confirmed that bandits were taxing farmers in parts of Birnin-Gwari, Giwa, Igabi and Chikun local government areas to grant them access to their farms.