Following the recent attack on four villages in Sokoto and Zamfara states, a mass burial for 32 people killed by suspected bandits was held on Wednesday July 11, 2018. The bandits who rode on over a hundred motorcycles were said to have invaded the villages at about 3pm, shooting people at sight. The affected villages were Alliki, Birwanga, Tabannin Gera in Rabah Local Government Area of Sokoto State and Kozi village in Maradun LGA of Zamfara state.
A village head in Goronyo, Alhaji Muhammadu Bello Aliyu who is the Sarkin Rafin Dan Tassakko said hundreds of people have been displaced by the attack. He said the attackers who came on motorcycles carried sophisticated weapons and shot people at sight. People killed by the attackers include the village head of Tabannin Gera, their Chief Imam, women and children.
Aliyu further said “the attackers were not the usual bandits who used to attack us, kidnap people or rustle animals.” He said over two hundred farmers have, this year alone, abandoned their farms in his village because of threats by the bandits. Aliyu said over 70 people were kidnapped in 17 villages under his district in the past two years and that they paid more than N100 million as ransom.
The most disturbing thing in Aliyu’s account was the allegation that his people used to see a helicopter coming to a suspected bandit hideout deep inside the bush. He said, “We are suspecting it to be ferrying weapons from a neighbouring country and at the same time conveying their victims to secret places while negotiations for ransom continue.”
Sokoto State Command however said the Commissioner of Police, Murtala Mani, had moved to Rabah to assess the situation and ascertain how many people were affected. Meanwhile, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State assured victims’ families taking refuge at Rabah that government was doing everything possible to ensure their safe return to their respective villages.
For long, Zamfara had been the state worst hit by banditry. It would be recalled that in response to the heightened bandit attacks, President Muhammadu Buhari launched a military operation codenamed “Harbin Kunama” in Zamfara state in July 2016. It was launched to tackle bandits, kidnapers and cattle rustlers who have been terrorizing farming and herding communities particularly in Dansadau Emirate of Maru Local Government.
Because of the security agencies’ failure to overcome the bandits, their heinous activities continued to rise in spite of the several security task forces and military operations put in place. It has now spilled over into Sokoto State. This is even as the notorious bandit, Buharin Daji, was eliminated by his criminal colleagues. It is time for security agencies especially the police to change their operational strategies. Were the police to have effectively used their intelligence mechanisms, the bandits couldn’t have succeeded in moving in that large number on motorcycles without being noticed before reaching their targets. The attack could have been averted with an effective intelligence gathering mechanism. After all, Nigeria Police had in the past succeeded in arresting abductors involved in all high-profile kidnap cases across the country.
Crime fighting in modern times has gone beyond the mechanical techniques still being applied by the police in Nigeria. Technology and its devices including drones are effective tools for detecting, averting and combating violent crimes in modern times. To prevent violent attacks from being orchestrated by bandits, it takes efficient policing to strategically map out all the hot spots with high incidents of insecurity across the country. Germane to this is the need for the various security agencies to synergize and share information in their fight against crime in the country.
While we call on the government of Sokoto State and the National Emergency Management Agency [NEMA] to assist victims of the attack with relief materials, we urge the Inspector General of Police [IGP] to quickly re-structure the Nigeria police to efficiently function to meet the rising challenges of crime fighting in Nigeria.