Barely five days after neutralising 250 suspected insurgents and related criminals in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna state, the police, supported by the vigilantes and local hunters engaged bandits believed to be insurgents, in fierce battles in Mashegu and Shiroro local government areas of Niger state.
Blueprint learnt that the bandits, whom villagers said were members of the Islamic States West Africa Province (ISWAP), at the weekend, invaded three villages, including Gurumana community in Shiroro local government area of the state.
This, it was gathered, came barely four days after the group invaded other communities, including Saho Rami in Mashegu local government area of the state during which several people were wounded and several others kidnapped.
However, it was learnt that a combined team of police and local vigilantes gave the bandits a hot chase in Shiroro forest, resulting in the rescue of 300 cows with some undisclosed casualties on both sides.
Confirming he developments to journalists Sunday, Chairman of Shiroro local government council, Malam Suleiman Chukuba said the battle with the bandits was still ongoing as at the time of filing this report.
However, he could not give casualty figures, insisting only the police were in possession of such information.
It was however learnt that seven of the vigilantes engaged in the battle were rushed to the hospital from the frontlines with one of them having fatal injury.
It was also gathered that the duel had been on for days in Mashegu where many villagers were reportedly abducted last week.
While villagers claimed the bandits invaded their communities with sophisticated weapons and anti-aircraft guns mounted on Hilux vehicles and took away many, the police said many of those abducted had been rescued.
When contacted the state Commissioner of Police, Adamu Usman, said it was too early to speak on the situation, but confirmed the police had chased out the bandits from affected villages.
He said: “We cannot talk on the situation now. Our special forces are on ground and they are recording successes.”
Blueprint learnt that several villagers abducted in Mashegu by the bandits had been rescued with some bandits also arrested.
According to sources, some 200 cattle were also rescued in Mashegu flank of the battle.
Meanwhile, the Benue state Police Command has confirmed the abduction of an owner of a supermarket, simply identified as Oga John, in Igumale, Ado local government area of the state.
The command’s Public Relations Officer, Catherine Anene, told journalists in Makurdi Sunday that police officers were on the trail of the kidnappers.
Ms Anene said the businessman, an Igbo man, was kidnapped Saturday morning at his business premises located at Camp Junction in Igumale.
A resident of Igumale told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that John owned the only big supermarket in the area, and that he was at the mall transacting business when the kidnappers stormed the premises and open fire immediately.
The eyewitness said the gunmen started shooting sporadically during which they whisked away the trader to an unknown destination
FG, states blamed
In a related development, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Sunday accused both the federal and state governments of being responsible for the rise in the nation’s security challenges.
Chairman of University of Ibadan chapter of the union, Professor Deji Omole said this while speaking to journalists in Ibadan, Oyo state.
He said rather than budgeting for people’s welfare, Nigerian government spent billions to buy security equipments from the countries that have invested heavily in the research and training.
Omole said it was unfortunate many states now reverted to organising their internal security networks without treating the causes of insecurity, saying, “ASUU has been warning governments to cater for the needs of the vulnerable in the society which appears to have fallen to deaf ears”.
“Due to years of neglect and unbridled corruption in high places, many Nigerians have come to lose interest in standards of ethical living since those leading them are mortgagers of future. Every year, they budget for themselves
“Every year, they budget for themselves. The president and his cabinet get lion share and some members of the National Assembly with no brilliant contributions to economy become billionaires overnight as a result of this insecurity. Instead of attending to poverty, education and unemployment, the security forces advise on buying more weapons,” he said.
The ASUU leader maintained that the union had warned that a time would come when the children of the poor would have nothing to eat but the rich in the society, stating that the observation is happening now.
“Poor education funding has made Nigerian students live in zoo-like hostels with sad memories for the society.
“They keep on churning out bad policies that impoverish more families and with no job, and bad economy, crime and criminality is reigning supreme. Government must give electricity, tackle unemployment and attack poverty and fund education to keep children in focus on positive development attitude,” said the union leader.
‘Let’s return to God’
However, Abia state Governor Okezie IKpeazu believed Nigeria needed divine intervention in tackling is security challenges.
He spoke when he received in audience President of the World Methodist Council, Reverend John Chun Park at theGovernment House, Umuahia.
He pleaded with the cleric to uphold Nigeria before God over the security challenges confronting the nation.
Governor Ikpeazu made the appeal when he received in audience the world Methodist president who paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Umuahia.
He said Boko Haram insurgency, banditry and the likes were security issues threatening the peace of the nation which needed the grace of God to contain.
The governor spoke through his Deputy, Ude Oko Chukwu, expressed worry that the security issues were threatening the peace of the country.
He said the development could only thrive in an atmosphere of peace which was why peace was essential in the country.
He thanked Reverend Park for the visit to Nigeria, especially for taking out time to visit Abia, describing the state as one of the most peaceful in the country.
Earlier, Reverend Park had said Abia described as a predominantly Christian state, saying its people were important to him as the Archbishop of the Umuahia Methodist Archdiocese, most Rev Chibuzor Opoko played a leading role towards his emergence as president.
He described Abia state as a city on the hill and pledged to continue praying for the state.