The emir of Birnin Gwari, Alhaji Zubairu Jibril Maigwari, in whose domain gunmen killed no fewer than 24 persons in Dogon Dawa village in Kaduna State yesterday, narrated how his people were mercilessly killed.
The emir who spoke to LEADERSHIP by phone said the gunmen attacked the villagers when they were returning from early morning prayers.
He said: "The gunmen arrived in Dogon Dawa and headed straight for the home of the leader of the local vigilante where they murdered the man and his son. After killing the vigilante head, they went looking for other vigilante members to kill.
"And upon sighting a large crowd coming out of the mosques, the gunmen then surrounded them and opened fire on them."
The royal father also stated that even those who sustained bullet wounds and ran back to the mosque to seek protection could not survive the assault.
The emir lamented that the authority delayed in providing security in the area, adding that the delay contributed to the criminals acting with impunity.
A villager, Musa Abdulkadir Dogon Dawa, who spoke to LEADERSHIP put the number of casualties at 24.
He said, "Eight people were instantly killed inside the mosques during the early morning prayers, while six members of the vigilante group including its leader, Ahmed Aliyu Makama, and his son were also killed. Three among the injured died later in hospital."
An eyewitness told LEADERSHIP that the gunmen carried out the attack in the early hours of yesterday after embarking on a house-to-house search, shooting and killing people indiscriminately.
The gunmen also stabbed to death a number of the villagers who were returning from their early morning prayers.
An eyewitness who pleaded anonymity said the gunmen were on a reprisal mission.
Abdullahi Muhammad, the traditional ruler and councillor in the local government, also said: "We are suspecting a reprisal attack by a gang of armed robbers who lost some of their members after a recent exchange of fire with the villagers and the vigilantes. The village had been terrorised by an armed group operating from camps in the forest. These armed men mostly attack villages and motorists along the busy Kaduna-Lagos highway."
Meanwhile, Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa has condemned the attack on the innocent people. A statement by the governor's spokesman, Reuben Buhari, reads: "The Kaduna State government totally condemns in its entirety the despicable attack on innocent civilians in Dogon Dawa community of Birnin Gwari by criminals."
We will fish out perpetrators - Police
Meanwhile, the Kaduna police command yesterday assured that it would ill not leave any stone unturned in a bid to fish out the criminals that shot dead 24 persons including a young boy in Dogon Dawa village of Birnin-Gwari local government area of Kaduna State.
Addressing the press at about 8pm yesterday, the commissioner of Police in charge of Kaduna State, CP Olufemi Adenaike, said that at about 5.30am, a suspected gang of armed bandits numbering about 10 stormed Dogon Dawa village, killing 24 persons.
According to him, the victims were coming from the early morning prayers when they were attacked, while some others were attacked in their various homes.
LEADERSHIP findings, however, revealed that 15 people were killed in a house-to-house search by the armed men while eight people were killed inside the mosque.
It was also found that the armed men were on a reprisal attack on the vigilante group in Dogon Dawa that had, last week, arrested and killed five members of the notorious gang suspected to have come from a neighbouring state.
The police said, "Investigation revealed that on 13/10/2012, some members of the vigilante group form Dogon Dawa village went to Kuyello village, a distance of about 35km, and arrested four persons suspected to be members of a notorious gang terrorising their areas and took them down to Dogon Dawa for questioning.
"Following the arrest, some unidentified armed gang in Kuyello village, mobilised in their large numbers and stormed the village at the early hours of today (yesterday) in a bid to rescue the four persons arrested. The gang descended on innocent members of the village, killing a total of 24 persons. The gang succeeded in rescuing two out of the four persons arrested by the vigilante group while the other two whom the attackers could not rescue were killed at the spot by the same assailants.
CP Adenaike informed that all the exit points from the village and its environs had been properly manned by the police and the army, as the hunt for the perpetrators was on, just as he further assured that investigation into the unfortunate incident has already commenced and security presence maintained.
LEADERSHIP confirmed that among those that were killed is a prominent leader of the vigilante group in Dogon Dawa, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu Makama, and several members of his group including women and children. Seven other persons are said to be critically wounded and are receiving treatment at ABU Teaching Hospital, Shika - Zaria.
The district head of Dogon Dawa, Alhaji Musa Aliyu, alleged that they had informed the police and other security agents three weeks ago after receiving a threat letter from the armed group warning the community of an impending reprisal attack, but the security authorities kept mute without taking any action to beef up security in the area.
It was also gathered that the gunmen operated for about five hours in the town unchallenged, but shortly before the burial of the people killed, large numbers of soldiers and mobile police were seen roaming the town. Again, it was reliably gathered that the only police outpost in Dogon-Dawa was closed down two weeks before the attack and the police officers transferred out of the area.
The police commissioner confirmed the closing down of the police outpost but denied receiving any information whatsoever about the threat letter received by the Dogon Dawa villagers.
Another bomb blast hits Maiduguri
The Joint Task Force (JTF) on Operation Restore Order (ORO) yesterday confirmed an early morning blast along Bama Road in Maiduguri.
JTF spokesman Lt.-Col. Sagir Musa told newsmen in Maiduguri that the blast did not record any casualty. "It is true that we had a blast along Bama Road in the early hours of Sunday. The truth is that there was no casualty," he said, explaining that the bomb was planted on the road in anticipation of the JTF patrol vans. "They were probably targeting our patrol vans or other civilians. But, fortunately, the bomb went off without hitting any target."
Musa appealed to residents of the state to be vigilant and report suspicious objects to the JTF promptly.