Daily Trust (Abuja)

22 January 2013

Nigeria: The Return of Yandaba Attacks in Katsina

Katsina — Until recently, Katsina metropolis had been peaceful and free from the activities of hoodlums popularly called Yandaba, or in some parlance, Kauraye. But recent attacks on innocent residents appear to announce the return of the dreaded group into the city, Daily Trust can report.

Areas such as Inwala, Daki-Tara and Sabuwar Unguwa witness frequent attacks by the group. In fact residents have lamented that recent activities of the hoodlums are distracting the peace of the state capital.

A resident of Inwala quarters, who pleaded for anonymity for safety reasons, said Kauraye attacks are becoming a daily affair in the city.

"If they don't attack today, tomorrow they will attack. We are becoming very unsafe," he said.

On January 11, 2013, a group of Yandaba launched unprovoked attack on Sabuwar Kasuwa quarters, injuring several residents. The hoodlums whose number could not be ascertained stormed the area around 8pm, during Ishah prayer and began to unleash violence on residents, Daily Trust gathered.

About 10 people, mostly middle aged, were critically injured while several others sustained minor injuries. Many are currently receiving treatment at Federal Medical Centre Katsina and Katsina General Hospital respectively.

No lives were lost but most victims of the attack sustained deep cuts on their heads, hands and legs. Some of them who spoke to Daily Trust at the Federal Medical Centre described the situation as unfortunate and scaring.

One of them, Babangida Salisu, told our reporter that the youths came with dangerous weapons such as cutlasses, swords, iron rods and sticks, and began to stab and beat people indiscriminately.

He said: "We were preparing to observe Ishah prayer when they suddenly appeared and started attacking us with weapons. We didn't know who they were and what their mission was. They injured several people before they fled the area. Nobody knew who they were because they carried out the attack in night."

Salisu who sustained cuts on his head and cheeks explained that when the hoodlums approached them, they thought they came to inquire something from them but they pulled out cutlasses and daggers, and began to attack people around.

"One of them hit me on the head and another on my back, and I fell unconscious," he said.

Adamu Ma'ruf, another victim, said he was attacked at Layin Abba in the same Sabuwar Unguwa quarters. He said: "some people were observing their Ishah prayer inside the mosque while I and a friend were performing ablution outside when the Yandaba came and attacked us."

"Most of us fell unconscious and were left in pool of our blood," he recalled.

"I wanted to run away but I changed my mind because I thought it was the police that were chasing suspected criminals. But when they came closer to me, I discovered that they were Yandaba and it was too late for me to run; that is how I was caught up," Ma'aruf who is currently receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre, Katsina, said.

Another victim of the attack, Mallam Shehu Sa'idu, said he had closed for the day and preparing to go home when the Kauraye stormed the area and attacked them.

"I was about to start my motorcycle when about five members of the group surrounded me with cutlasses and began to attack me. I fell unconscious and only woke up to see myself in hospital; I cannot recall how the attack was carried out," Sa'idu who is a carpenter said.

Sa'idu was badly injured on the head and his left hand. He said he was first taken to Katsina General Hospital before being transferred to the Federal Medical Centre where he is currently receiving treatment.

When Daily Trust visited Katsina General Hospital, it was observed that many victims of the attack had been treated and discharged as their cases were minor.

At Sabuwar Kasuwa quarters, a resident of the area and brother to Shehu Sa'idu, Mallam Aliyu Sa'idu, described the incident as unfortunate, saying "we have never witnessed this kind of attack in Sabuwar Kasuwa quarters. We are calling on the security agencies to intensify efforts to stop this ugly trend for the progress of the state and the nation."

He gave the names of other victims known to him as Saifullahi Mudi Gaye and Yahuza Umar, who sustained injuries on the head and hand respectively.

Sometime last year, the same Yandaba group had launched similar unprovoked attack on Sabuwar Unguwa in Katsina metropolis, injuring dozens of people. They attacked people at tea joint and surrounding shops, and carted away valuables including GSM phone.

Confirming the attack, the state police commissioner, Alhaji Abdullahi Magaji, said 40 suspected Yandaba were arrested by the police. He however said only two persons sustained injuries during the attack.

Magaji appealed to members of the public to endeavour to provide useful information to the police that may lead to the arrest of suspected criminals. He said that the police will not relent in the effort to rid the state of crimes.

"We are calling on parents and guardians to always monitor their children and inform police of any uncomfortable activities of people in their respective domains. Until the police get information about the activities of Yandaba, we may not know how to handle the situation. Police are always ready to checkmate the activities of Kauraye in Katsina," he assured.

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