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N’CENTRAL GROANS UNDER ISWAP, B’HARAM ATTACKS

Over 500 communities in 8 wards in Shiroro LGA taken over
B’Haram now rules in many communities, recruiting residents –Shiroro LG chairman
Current security challenges affecting us, we’re at ISWAP’s mercy –Emir of Borgu

The insecurity situation in the country appeared to have spread wider as members of the dreaded Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) have made huge incursion into the North Central with states like Niger and Kogi affected. Kwara State is also reported to be experiencing influx of bandits, with the situation unsettling residents in the region.

In a recent parley with journalists, Secretary to the Niger State Government (SSG), Ibrahim Ahmed Matane, said members of ISWAP and Boko-Haram, who he said already have strongholds in Zamfara State forests and in Chukun area of Kaduna State, have been making efforts to establish sanctuary in the state. Matane said: “some villages and local government areas will take you as much as seven to ten hours from Minna before you get there.

How do you engage a group of people who use sophisticated equipment, satellite phones and gun trucks with the type of equipment we have? He said the terrorist groups were planning to establish a Caliphate at Kainji Lake National Park (KLNP) situated in Borgu Local Government Area and Shiroro LGA. Kogi state, hitherto known to be the most peaceful state in Nigeria, is said to be reeling from the activities of bandits who reports said have since found a safe haven in the Confluence state.

Many of these bandits, who were reportedly chased away from Zamfara and other states in the North, were said to have moved into the forests in Kogi State, terrorising and kidnapping unsuspecting travellers. The same scenario is said to be playing out in Kawra State as the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, recently raised the alarm that bandits and kidnappers have relocated to Kwara and Kogi States, noting that the spate of insecurity in the two states is becoming disheartening and alarming. Speaking at the 202 edition of Oya Festival in Ira, Kwara State, Adams decried the increasing rate of kidnapping in the state, adding that reports at his disposal indicated that some criminal elements have relocated to the state. But the Kwara State government denied the report saying that bandits and terrorists were not relocating to the state.

ISWAP indoctrinating residents in Borgu

It was gathered that after a notice of evacuation sent to officials early this year by the terrorists group, Kainji Lake National Park workers evacuated the park for more than nine (9) months now leaving ISWAP to establish their ‘caliphate’ there. This was also confirmed by the secretary of the SSG when he said “the Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, and the dreaded Boko Haram are planning to set camps in some parts of the state.”

It was gathered that, in some parts of Borgu Local Government, particularly Babana and the KLNP, the group has already established their camp and have started recruiting locals. In an earlier audio recording that the terror group released, they revealed that they were the abductors of the district head of Wawa, Dr. Mahmud Ahmed Aliyu. The Emir of Borgu in Niger State, Alhaji Muhammed Haliru Dantoro, bemoaned the setbacks affecting his Emirate, tracing it to the current security challenges.

He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the deployment of troops to Borgu, so as to check the activities of kidnappers and criminal elements. Speaking to Saturday Telegraph on the presence of ISWAP, the Emir said: “The issue of ISWAP, I heard that they are telling residents that they are neither bandits nor kidnappers, the current security challenges are affecting us “I am calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the deployment of troops to Borgu, so as to check the activities of kidnappers and criminal elements.”

The royal father, whose domain hosts the Kainji National Park, said the security situation hinders business activities and discourages local and foreign investors. It should be recalled that due to the security threat, the Emir suspended some of his councilors for allegedly harbouring some Fulani men in the emirate.

In a letter suspending the councilors and signed by the Secretary of the Emirate Council, Alhaji Abubakar Jibril, the Emirate also set up a committee to investigate the suspended councilors for allowing the Fulanis entry into Borgu emirate without his (emir’s) knowledge for proper documentation. A top traditional leader in Borgu Emirate who pleaded anonymity said the activities of the ISWAP are gaining grounds by the day. He said: “The thing has gone far from what we think it is. They (ISWAP) already have people from here (Borgu). As I am talking with you, there are Borgu people among them already. That is what the district head of Wawa told us after gaining freedom from them.”

“I have a sister who is married in Babanna. She told me that the terrorists come to town anytime they want. They talk with people and go to the market too. She told us that those who know them said they are good people. It is bad ‘wallahi,’ because these people are indoctrinating our people,” he lamened. Recently, it was gathered that over 500 communities in eight wards of Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State had been taken over by Boko Haram and other insurgent groups. It should be recalled that this year, Governor Abubakar Bello raised the alarm that Boko Haram had hoisted their flag in some communities in Shiroro LGA. The Chairman of Shiroro Council, Suleiman Chukumba, said that Boko Haram now rules in most of the communities, saying the group is trying to equip the people to fight against the government. Speaking with one of our correspondents in Minna on the situation of Shiroro LGA, Chukumba said: “As the Chairman of Shiroro, I can tell you that Shiroro is not only dealing with the issue of banditry, it has a lot of Boko Haram members.

I have proof of this as the chairman.” He said that Boko Haram has proclaimed that they do not want conventional primary and secondary schools, and that their only preference is the Islamic school. “They have told the people that they do not want primary or secondary school in the communities and that they only want to see Islamic schools.

“They have been trying to recruit residents of the communities to become their members, telling them that they will give the recruits arms and assist them in fighting the government,” Chukumba stated. The District head of Beni in Munya LGA that shares boundary with Shiroro LGA, Alhaji Jafaru Umar Sarki, in a telephone chat with one of our correspondents, disclosed that he and other relations of victims had always been contacted by the bandits to pay ransom. According to him, “they told me to bring N17million but I told them that I do not have that type of money but I managed and struggled to raise N1.3million for the release of my daughters one of whom was kidnapped two days to her wedding in July. “They told me that it was not their group that collected that money, and that the first ransom was for another group.

“They later said that I should offer something but I told them that I don’t have anything to offer because I have not finished paying the debt from where I borrowed money to secure the release of my daughters.” The co-Convener of the Shiroro Youths Association, Yusuf Abubakar Kokki, called for urgent and concerted efforts by the government and individuals to address the insecurity challenges, adding that “our people have been chased out of over 100 communities.” The Niger state Commissioner of Police, Mr Monday Kuryas, however, said that his men were on ground to tackle insurgency while appealing for support and cooperation from members of the public by way of providing intelligence.

Etsu Nupe wants FG to address insecurity squarely

In his remarks after a state security meeting, the Etsu Nupe and Chairman of the Niger State Council of Traditional rulers, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, urged the federal and state governments to address the issue of insecurity squarely. The Traditional ruler had said: “Governments at all level must protect the people and make security the topmost priority. We (royal fathers) are ready to support the Government”.

Insecurity in Kogi State

Lokoja the capital of Kogi State and environs are experiencing attacks as gunmen reportedly kidnap their victims in their houses with impunity. The bandits in recent time have engaged in kidnapping several travellers along Ikoyi/ Iyara road in Kogi State. The Kogi State Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Victor Adewale Omofaye, who would have been among the kidnapped victims, escaped even though he was shot by the bandits. The incident, it was learnt, happened between Ikoyi and Iyara on Sunday evening, and the gunmen were said to be over 20, when they took over the road for several minutes. Hon. Omofaye and two others in his car, it was gathered, sped away from the kidnapping scene, even when his car was shot at several times. Other victims of the kid-nappers were said to have been marched into the bush by the suspected bandits. A source confirmed that the Chairman of Ijumu Local Government Area who doubles as ALGON chairman in Kogi State, Isah Taufiq, has mobilised the vigilantes and hunters in search of those that were kidnapped. The Ikoyi-Ijumu Development Association (IDA) leadership has said that they are on top of the matter and they were highly impressed with the very swift response of the security personnel, especially, the DPO at Iyara and vigilantes including local hunters under the direct supervision of Ijumu LG Chair. Former Kogi state Commissioner of Police and currently Assistant Inspector General of Police, Mr Ayuba Ede, told Saturday Telegraph through a phone conversation that the state commissioner of police is already putting a strategy in place to smoke out the kidnappers.

Invasion of Kwara State

On the invasion of Kwara State by bandits, Gani Adams urged Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasak to create a state security outfit that can help combat the growing influx of bandits and kidnappers. He said: “Governor AbdulRasak needs to provide adequate security for the people of the state as well as the visitors. The report that some of the bad elements, including bandits and kidnappers, have relocated to Kwara and Kogi states is alarming; the Kwara State government needs to improve on the security situation in the state by using the Amotekun structure to combat the growing spate of insecurity in the state. “The success recorded in securing the South West through Amotekun is encouraging and the security initiative is yielding positive outcome.” Debunking the claim of Gani Adams that bandits and kidnappers had relocated to Kwara and Kogi, the Kwara State Government said that there was no conducive environment for any criminal elements to relocate to in the state, talk less of operating there. In a chat with one of our correspondents, Rafiu Ajakaye, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, averred that the issue of security is such that requires tact and cooperation of all, adding that “Kwara State remains the safest in the country, notwithstanding some unfortunate one-off breaches which we work very hard to curtail.” He said: “The state government, security agencies, traditional institutions and local communities are always working together to prevent any criminal elements from having a toehold in any part of the state. This is why there have always been constant discreet and or joint security operations to keep the people safe at all times. For example, the army had recently conducted a rigorous sweeping of the areas bordering Niger State and adjoining communities. This is so that no criminal elements are allowed to hibernate there.”

 

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