By Jacob Kubeka (ABUJA)
At Least 47 bandits terrorizing Shiroro communities in Niger State have been killed by local hunters, PRNigeria gathered.
The hunters, in a sting-like operation, raided a ‘riverside’ community in Magami between Shiroro and Rafi Local government areas on Wednesday and killed the bandits, PRNigeria is reporting.
According to the news medium, the community, which is closed to a river, has been used as hideouts by Niger bandits, who also established their camps in the axis.
The raid by Shiroro hunters is coming in the wake of growing threats of armed banditry in the Middle Belt and northern Nigeria with ethnic-Fulani herdsmen being fingered as those behind the daily violence attack against the unarmed and defencesless communities which are inhabited predominantly by peasant farmers.
Niger state in particular, has witnessed over a dozen such attacks in the last six months.
For instance, April 21, armed bandits attacked a military base in the Zazzaga community, Munya Local Government Area of the State, during which one civilian identified as Jacob Auta was killed, according to media reports, which also indicated that a military vehicle was stolen during the attack by the gunmen who were said to came riding on motorcycles as they stormed the area, shooting sporadically at the camp.
Bandits also invaded the Kwankwashe community in Suleja local government area of the state on May 19, killing three persons and abducting 12 others.
Barely one week later, unidentified gunmen on May 28, launched attacks on several villages in the state, killing at least 14 persons, kidnapping five and injuring several others in Wushishi and Lavun local government areas.
The assailants were later reported to have demanded a ransom for the release of the hostages.
Two days later, another set of bandits on May 30 abducted many pupils of an Islamic school in Tegina, a densely populated town in Rafi Local Government Area of the state.
Before gaining access the private school where they abducted children attending Islamic lectures, the gunmen were reported to have seized the police station in the town while they went round the town shooting sporadically into the air to scare residents.
On June 25, bandits further attacked Zungeru and neighbouring communities in the state, during which 20 people were reported dead, just as the bandits also kidnapped Al-mustapha Mustapha, a traditional chief and kingmaker in Zungeru, and two of his wives, residents said.
According to the PRNigeria report, residents of the ‘Riverside’ community said the two persons were killed by stray bullets fired by the bandits while 18 drowned in a river while trying to escape the attacks by the bandits.
A police intelligence officer, who asked not to be mentioned, confirmed that several bandits also fled with gunshot wounds, aside those killed.
“I can tell you for a fact that the bandits met their waterloo. At least 47 of them were eliminated by the hunters who participated in the operation,” he said.
PRNigeria could not confirm if the hunters are part of the recently inaugurated Niger Special Vigilante Corps (NSVC) which was formulated by the police and the state government to streamline the activities of all local security outfits into one special corps.
During the inauguration of the corps in June 2021, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of the state said the activities of banditry would not intimidate the people or the government as they would not allow bandits to change the style of living of the people.
Sani-Bello had said: “Bandits want to force us to change our way of life in Niger State but we won’t allow them.
“They stopped our children from going to school, they stopped us from travelling on our roads, they stopped farmers from going to the farm and now they are trying to stop from anything, but we will not be intimidated. We will not allow that to happen; we will continue to live our normal lives.”