Slowly and stealthily they crept into their target areas as planned. And before people, their intended victims, knew of their ominous presence, they struck without mercy, leaving in their wake blood, death and tears. That is how the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents announced and registered their presence in Niger State.
Typically, as they have done previously elsewhere, they did not hesitate to hoist their flags of evil after carrying out acts of brutality. Quietly settling down in Kaore community in Shiroro Local Government Area of the state, they soon began to attack innocent farmers, burning their property, killing some and dispossessing them of their valuables and crops. Like the devil, they simply want to steal, kill and destroy against the wish of government to protect and defend lives and property of the people.
From Kaore, where the bandits and terrorists have set up their base, it is apparent that they can gain unhindered access to the 24 other local governments of the state and carry out their nefarious activities, leaving more woes on their trail in the process.
The alarming situation had forced the Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, to cry out. Bello, who is not known to panic and raise alarms like some other Nigerian politicians do, has quickly come out to alert the nation that Boko Haram terrorists were already incubating in his state.
At a public forum, Governor Bello thundered without reservation: "I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements here in Niger State. Here in Kaore in Shiroro Local Government Area, I am confirming that they have hoisted their flags there.
Innocent wives of the men in the affected communities have been seized from them and forcefully attached to Boko Haram members.
"I just heard that they have placed their flags at Kaore, meaning they have taken over the territory. This is what I have been engaging the Federal Government on, but unfortunately, it has now got to this level, and if care is not taken even Abuja will not be safe.
"We have been saying this for long but all our efforts have been in vain. But with the latest development, I hope the time has come for a more coordinated military activity to take place. With the development, the Boko Haram elements are trying to use this area as their home base just as they have done in Sambisa. Sambisa is several kilometres away from Abuja, but Kaore is just two kilometres away from Abuja and as such so nobody is safe anymore; not even those in Abuja."
For now, the villages mostly affected by the terrorists' presence in the state are: Allawa, Bassa/Kukoki, Gurmana, Manta, Galadima Logo, Kwaki/Chukubo, Kurebe, Kushaka and Erena.
As a result of the takeover of the areas, the villagers have fled their homes and farms in Shiroro, Rafi, Munya and Wushishi and taken refuge in camps in the capital, Minna. One of the camps located within the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida Primary School adjacent the Emir of Minna Palace, is now congested because of the fleeing villagers sacked by the bandits a few days ago from neighbouring villages.
Besides the IBB Camp, two others camps situated at Maitumbi and Maikunkele in the city centre, are facing accommodation challenges due to the large number of displaced and stranded persons swarming the places on a daily basis for help, just as their anger and frustration keep flaring daily due to the absence of basic medical or support facilities.
While the governor raised the alarm apparently to elicit military support for the state, his declaration that nobody was safe as a result of the presence of Boko Haram terrorists in the state, has however drawn the ire of the people, who accuse him and the Federal Government of not doing enough to protect them despite their agricultural production and contribution to the economy of the state and Nigeria as a whole.
The anger of the affected communities was taken to a new height when the Deputy Governor of the state, Alhaji Ahmed Ketso, announced that the state government had provided a paltry N2 million for the upkeep of the inmates of the various IDPs camps. Although the announcement of the amount was apparently meant to draw support for the state, the victims of the attacks dismissed it as a ruse and nothing to cheer about given their plight.
The first to fire the salvo against the meagre amount was the President of Lakpma Youths Assembly, Comrade Jibrin Alawa, who described the N2 milion for the various camps as an insult to the people. He pointed out that as concerned villagers, they had paid millions of naira as ransom to the bandits in a few months to secure the release of their kinsmen and that the amount announced by the government was meaningless to them. "Both the governor and his deputy should resign immediately to pave way for more sympathetic, competent and more committed people.
Our people have paid more than the N2 million announced by the government as upkeep for these people fleeing from Shiroro and Munya. We are farmers. We don't need food donations from the government. What we need from government at all levels is adequate security for our people to go and farm, get enough money for themselves to improve the economy and also feed the Nation," he declared.
The Christian Association of Nigeria, Niger State Chapter rose from an emergency security meeting held at its secretariat in Minna, yesterday, with a call on the state government not to give up but strive further towards providing adequate security to its people.
State Chairman of CAN, Reverend Mattias Echioda, in an exclusive interview with Arewa Voice described the signal from the governor as totally losing hope in the security of the country.
He said: "The pronouncement of the governor clearly shows defeatism and if the chief security officer of the state can submit thus, where would the followers run to. The state governor as the number one citizen and chief security officer should not be easily discouraged or easily submissive but should restrategize and be more proactive in facing the security challenges with a renewed vigour."
Echioda called on all Christians in the state to rise up in prayers more than before for God's intervention in the security challenges confronting the state in particular and the country in general just as he called on them to send in donations including foodstuffs, detergents, beddings, water among others to the CAN Secretariat for onward transmission to the various IDP Camps in the state.
Meanwhile, the CAN has declared next week Wednesday to Friday for fasting and prayers over the insecurity in the state and country generally.
Vanguard News Nigeria