Sokoto gruesome attacks: Last Sunday was a sad day for the people of Warwanna, Dutsi and Kursa villages in the Rabah Local Government Area of Sokoto State as 26 residents were dead– 10 in Warwanna, four in Dutsi and 11 in Kursa and one driver was burnt to death.
Thousands were rendered homeless in the attacks by suspected bandits who left sorrow, and tears in their wake.
Seventeen-year-old Lawali Sani, a farmer and one of the two survivors of the attacks on Dutsi village is currently receiving treatment at the Gandi Primary Health Centre.
Lawal explained that the community was woken by unusual noise of invading motorcycles, followed by a staccato of gunshots that threw the entire village into confusion.
He said, “I saw the bandits and ran into another house to hide but one of them saw me and shot at me. I fell and managed to crawl out and shouted for help. That was all I could remember only to wake up to see myself in the hospital bed.”
Lawal, who survived a gunshot that pierced through his shoulder, begged the government to move him to a better facility to enable him to have access to adequate treatment. He added that his injured region was only sutured and not dressed.
His sorrows have increased as his father felled by the bandits’ bullets was already buried alongside 25 others. The buried victims included a one-year-old baby girl.
SUNDAY PUNCH gathered that the attacks were carried out by bandits from their hideout in the neighbouring Zamfara State.
The Gandi Primary School’s Internally Displaced Persons’ camp has 1,097 from Warnanna; Dutsi, 281; Kursa, 197; Ilulu, 150, Gidan Kurebe, 190; and Ruwan Tsamiya, 133.
When our correspondent visited the IDP camp, which remains home to displaced persons from Tabanni village, also in Rabah LGA, the pervading story was not palatable. .
The IDPs, who suffered attacks in July, last year, wore hungry looks even as they battled security and health challenges.
Speaking to our correspondent, District Head of Gandi, Alhaji Abubakar Maccido, pleaded with the government to deploy more security personnel to check activities of the bandits.
The spokesperson for the state command, Cordelia Nwawe, stated that the Commissioner of Police, Murtala Mani, had directed that more anti-riot policemen should be deployed in the area.
In his reaction, Acting Deputy Director, Army PRO 8 Division, Major Clement Abiade, said the areas had for long been monitored by Forward Operation Base, adding that criminals wouldn’t dare come near the place.
Abiade said, “Most of the places of incidents are remote, and in some cases, have communication network problems for people to report immediately to security agencies.
“Most of these heinous crimes must have been committed and the criminals disappeared before the cases are brought to the knowledge of security personnel nearby. This is the reason we advocate the use of vigilantes and hunters, who will confront and delay them, pending the arrival of soldiers.”
The bandits slayed my husband — Hauwa
Tell us more about yourself.
I am 24 years and a housewife.
How did you escape the attack?
I escaped with my daughter because I was not at home when the bandits got to the town. I learnt about the attack when I was returning to our village alongside other women from a christening. We encountered some of the people who escaped and from there, I turned back with my daughter. We ran until we found ourselves in Gandi.
Where is your husband?
I thought my husband was only missing until I was told he died in the attacks. I am still in pains that my husband, a Quranic teacher, who also engaged in farming, is dead. He only told me that he wanted to go and inspect the labourers clearing his farm. That was the last time I saw him.
It was the same bandits who killed him that kidnapped one of his relatives last year. He had to contribute money to pay the ransom they demanded.
We jumped into river to escape – Shehu Abdullahi
How did the attack happen?
We were caught unawares. Most of us were returning from farm when the attacks happened. It was my children that alerted me that they heard gunshots. By the time I came out with my brother, the sound of gunshots was deafening, we rushed in to bring our cutlasses. When we saw the gun-wielding men on motorcycles, shooting sporadically, nobody told us to run away.
How did you escape?
I ran as fast I could with my brother and one Alhaji Kassim. Unfortunately, the bandits’ bullets caught up with my brother and Alhaji Kassim. I ran towards the river where I met two other people. We jumped into the river with our clothes on, and crossed to the other side of the river. That was how I escaped.
Who do you think the attackers were?
I didn’t wait to find out who they were or what their mission was. They didn’t steal anything but burnt all our property. They came on bikes but I can’t say exactly where they came from or if they were cattle rustlers or not. They killed 26 people who were buried last Monday. One of our people is receiving treatment at Primary Health Centre, Gandi.
Invaders killed my son, nephew, district head –Ibrahim Salisu
Who are you?
I am a farmer and member of the vigilante group at Warwanna village.
Share with us how the attack happened.
The bandits started their operations from Dutsi and moved to Kursa. They later surrounded us and moved into our village from three different directions. They were shooting sporadically and killed anyone that tried to escape including those coming from the farm.
How many people were killed in your village?
Ten people were killed in Warwanna village. I lost my son, Halidu, and a nephew, our district head, Alhaji Yusuf; our Sarkin Yaki and Zayyanu, a motorcycle engineer. They also killed Umar, a carpenter including a girl that her father carried and ran with into his house. They killed both the father and the girl.
What do you think caused the attacks?
What I can say was that not too long ago, we noticed strange movements around our village mostly at night. We, therefore, formed a vigilante group to secure our people and property.
There were times the bandits usually came to town to buy foodstuff, petrol, recharge card and other items from neighbouring villages. We stopped them at a time from doing that. That was the only problem we have with them.
Did you report seeing ‘strange people’ to the government?
When we noticed their presence around the town, we complained to the government and they sent security agents to the place. But the police did not take any action and that made us form the vigilante group to protect ourselves. Now, we want government to send more security agents to protect us, because the bandits are armed. The bandits hide in a forest at Goronyo Isa and Maradun in neighbouring Zamfara State.
In our village, we don’t have any security agents — either police or army. The only thing I know is that whenever attacks occur, security officers and politicians will be visiting our villages. What we want from government is that they should provide us with security, because our lives and property are not secure. The government should help us because we don’t have anywhere to go as most of us are farmers.
I escaped but my dad, neighbour were shot dead’
Tell us about yourself?
I am Lawali Sani. I am 17 years old.
How did you get to the hospital?
It was my brother, Tukur, who rushed me to the hospital for treatment after I sustained injuries from gunshots.
Can you recall how you were shot?
I saw the bandits when they came and ran into another house to hide but one of them saw me. He came after me, hit me with a gun and I fell down. He later shot me and went to my neighbour, Mallam Salisu, and shot him too before they left. I later crawled out and shouted for help. Where I was, people carried me to a canoe to cross the river before my brother, Tukur, brought a bike to take me to the hospital for treatment.
Apart from Salisu, which other person was shot dead in the town?
Aside our neighbour, Mallam Salisu, my father, Abu Sani, was also shot dead. I don’t know the exact casualties of the attacks because I have been in hospital bed since I arrived in Gandi.