Three days after several citizens of Zamfara state were killed by bandits in two separate attacks, Governor Abdulaziz Yari is yet to return to the state.
The governor, who is the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, has remained in Abuja attending various functions.
Bandits suspected to be cattle rustlers had Wednesday attacked Birane villa in Zurmi local government killing 18 persons, according to the police.
The spokesperson of the police in the state, Muhammad Shehu, in a statement Thursday said hunters from Birani village intercepted and accosted a suspected cattle rustler herding in the bush with some 'stolen' cattle and sheep.
"The herder abandoned the animals and escaped into the bush, but unknown to the hunters, the cattle rustler went to Isah Local Government Area of Sokoto State and mobilised bandits to attack the hunters.
"On February 14, the bandits ambushed the hunters in the bush and there was a clash that led to fatality on both sides," Mr. Shehu said.
Vanguard newspaper quoted a witness, Hussaini Abdu, who said that the bandits "arrived in large numbers and on motorbikes, intercepting and killing people who were coming or going out of the village. About 41 people were shot dead within a short period of time."
He also said a commercial motorbike rider conveying a woman and her three children was killed and his motorbike burnt, while the whereabouts of the woman and her children are still unknown.
A journalist based in Gusau, the capital city of Zamfara state told PREMIUM TIMES on Friday that the bandits "returned to the village again on Thursday and killed more people. So far, I can confirm to you that 74 persons have been killed."
The journalist who declined to be named due to safety concerns also said Birane villa is difficult to access.
"You can't drive there from here, you need to take two different motorcycles after parking your car to get to Birane and it's a dangerous journey because of the bandits," he said.
State government reacts
Contacted Thursday, the state commissioner of Information, Sanda Danjari, said he was still trying to confirm if the attacks took place.
"I heard it on Radio France this morning, but I am yet to confirm," Mr. Danjari, who said he was travelling, told PREMIUM TIMES over the telephone.
Asked whether the governor was aware, Mr. Danjari said he tried "without success to speak with the governor."
"I tried his ADC and Sani Garba but I couldn't get them. I wanted to confirm if His Excellency heard too," he said.
PREMIUM TIMES can confirm that Mr. Yari chaired a meeting of the NGF, Wednesday night and he also attended the meeting of the National Economic Council Thursday at the presidential villa Abuja.