5 soldiers, civil defender killed as bandits raze Niger military base

Bandits Thursday launched a fresh attack on a military base in Allawa in Shiroro local government area of Niger state, killing six security personnel.

After burning down the base, the bandits, it was gathered, stormed surrounding villages during which seven villagers were reportedly killed, 10 others abducted while they also stole seven motorcycles.

A villager from the area who spoke under anonymity said: “The bandits attacked at about 2am Thursday and stormed the camp of the Joint Security Task Force comprised of the Army, Police, Civil Defence and Vigilantes at Allawa. They opened fire on them unawares, killing five soldiers and one policeman, while many sustained various degrees of injuries.

“The communities attacked include Allawa, Manta, Gurmana, Bassa and Kokki in Shiroro local government area.Also a popular businessman in Bassa village whose name was given as Alhaji Sule was killed on his farm by the armed men who also made away with several motorcycles belonging to the villagers.”

President Shiroro Youth Movement Mohammed Sani Idris said the bandits, numbering about 100, were armed with AK47, adding that they operated for more than five hours unchallenged.

 Idris appealed to both the federal and state governments to redouble their effort at rescuing the people in the various communities. 

 Also speaking on the incident, Co-convener, Concerned Shiroro Youths, Sani Abubakar Yusuf Kokki, said five soldiers and one civil defender were killed in the attack.

“The criminals took the personnel of the Joint Security Task Force unawares and opened fire on them. In the process, unfortunately, they successfully burnt down the camp to ashes, including the operational vehicles, and also gruesomely killed about six personnel (five army officers and one civil defence officer) while many others sustained various degrees of gunshot injuries,” Kokki said. 

He lamented that the entire Shiroro local government had become a war zone with bandits ransacking homes, killing and maiming innocent villagers.

“Their intention is to rid the area of security presence so that they will always have a field day,” Koki said.

SSG speaks

When contacted, Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Ahmed Ibrahim Matane confirmed the incident to journalists.

He said: “Yes, there was an attack at our army base at Allawa, usually it is a deployment point, we deploy soldiers and security agencies to black spots in that area from that base.

“Allawa you know is a huge forest; it has become a sanctuary for bandits. What we have done is to deploy security agencies to be able to address and respond to attacks in that area.  Unfortunately, this is what happened.”

He said security agencies, including the commissioner of police and the brigade commander have been dispatched to the area to verify and validate what happened.

Chinese expatriates

In a related development, the Ogun state Police Command has said two Chinese nationals were abducted at Oba community in Obafemi-Owode local government area of the state.

The foreigners, it was learnt, work with a fishery and poultry company in the area and were abducted Wednesday.

Spokesman of the state police command, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said the abductors accessed the farm in the community through Odo Ogun (River Ogun) and made away with the captives through the same water.

While saying a security team had commenced search through the forest to locate the victims and their abductors, Oyeyemi said, “we are on it, we are working to locate and rescue the victims.”

Further to this, Governor Dapo Abiodun also confirmed the dastardly act during the inauguration of the Amotekun corps Thursday in Abeokuta.

 “There has been a spate of incidents of kidnapping in the state in the last one week or so with Nigerians and Chinese nationals as victims. Through combined efforts of our security agencies working with locals, some of the victims have been rescued whilst some are still being held by the kidnappers.

“I want to assure you all that no effort will be spared to rescue safely the remaining victims. In the same vein, a number of initiatives are being put together to stem this ugly tide of kidnapping and indeed all other forms of criminality in the state,” the governor assured.

UK pledges support

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has expressed readiness to work with Nigeria towards ending insecurity in the country.

A statement by the British High Commission in Nigeria Thursday quoted the UK Minister of State for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, as saying this during a visit to Nigeria between 28 and 29 March.

“Nigeria is an important and valued defence partner for the UK. Our two countries face many shared threats, from violent extremists like Boko Haram, to serious organised crime and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

“The UK is committed to working with our Nigerian friends to tackle these threats and enhance security and stability across West Africa,” Heappey said.

The statement further said “the minister’s visit demonstrates the importance of the UK-Nigeria partnership across a range of foreign policy and defence objectives.

“The UK’s recently launched Integrated Review – our most significant review of foreign, defence, development and security policy since the end of the Cold War, clearly identifies Nigeria as a priority partner for the UK.

“The UK has a long history of defence engagement in the West Africa region, and an enduring partnership with the Armed Forces of Nigeria and those deployed with the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram.

“Programmes within this engagement seek to explore ways to strengthen our relationship and to identify areas where the UK can support the Armed Forces of Nigeria and regional partners in their efforts to bring stability to the region.”

It also said during the visit, the visiting minister met the Chief of Staff to the President of Nigeria, Professor Ibrahim Gambari; Defence Minister, Major-General Bashir Magashi (retd.); Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor; Chief of the Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo; and Borno state Governor Professor Babagana Zulum.

The statement further said the UK minister assured his country would continue to work closely with Nigeria to address the current security situation; and discussed future Nigeria-UK opportunities to strengthen cooperation, including further UK Ministry of Defence assistance for Nigeria.

The statement said the minister outlined the UK’s commitment to working with Nigeria and other regional allies in West Africa to tackle violence in the Lake Chad Basin, and also emphasised the importance of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea to both countries.

The minister added that the UK was looking forward to joining Senegal in co-chairing the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (FOGG) this year, while also emphasising how the UK is committed to supporting Nigeria with reforming national and regional structures and processes.

About Aideloje Ojo, Minna, Hakeem Adegbenro, Abeokuta and Chizoba Ogbeche, Abuja

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