A Police officer and 16 other persons were killed in attacks and reprisals in Ungwan Juju and Ungwan Wakili of Zangon Kataf local government area, Southern Kaduna part of Kaduna state.
According to sources, the killing of a young herder tied to a tree by some locals in Ungwan Juju and cut to death with machete, was the reason for the killings in the area last Thursday.
The issue was compounded Saturday afternoon when a misunderstanding arose between security operatives and four herders on motorcycles at a checkpoint in Ungwan Wakili, leading to a herder and a policeman being shot dead at the checkpoint, while the herders’ motorcycles were burnt.
By Saturday evening, the killings escalated when a group of local youths who went fishing, were attacked and one of them was said to have been cut to death with machete by the retaliating herders.
“On Thursday last week, one Umar Sambo (a herder) was killed while returning from grazing his cattle around Ungwan Juju in Zangon Kataf local government area. His killers tied the young herder up, matcheted him to death and hid the corpse in an unknown location. When his brother, Safiyanu, could not find him, he reported to the security agencies, who then launched a search operation before his body was finally discovered at Ungwan Juju,” said a top military source.
The military officer, who doesn’t want his name mentioned for security reasons, said the security situation, which they were making efforts to manage, became compounded Saturday evening, when there was a clash between security operatives and some Fulani folks at a checkpoint in Ungwan Wakili, which led to the death of a Fulani man and a policeman.
He said: “Ungwan Wakili village of Atyap Chiefdom in Zangon Kataf LGA was attacked by unidentified persons around 8:40pm on Saturday, in an apparent reprisal following the killing of the herder earlier mentioned. Another suspected immediate cause of the Saturday night attack, was the accidental shooting of a herder by a policeman at Ungwan Wakili Junction, the burning of herders’ motorcycles and the mob action which followed.”
He, however, said by the time the troops of Operation Safe Haven mobilised to the village to repel the attack, 17 persons were already killed, with seven others wounded and taken to Zonkwa General Hospital for treatment.
“Also worthy of note is that after a policeman accidentally shot and injured a herder and a colleague at the checkpoint at Ungwan Wakili Junction, a mob action occurred in Ungwan Wakili. While the police evacuated the area, a crowd of locals and herders gathered at the scene, and in the confrontation that followed, one local was killed. Two motorcycles belonging to herders were burnt, while the attack on Ungwan Wakili village occurred a few hours later,” the security source explained.
The development forced the local government authorities to impose a 24-hour curfew in the affected communities to prevent further breakdown of law and order.
Police confirm development
Meanwhile, the Kaduna state Police Command has confirmed the attack by terrorists on a Southern Kaduna community early hours of Sunday morning. Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) DSP Muhammed Jalige, who confirmed the killings, however, said security forces were on top of the situation.
“We have been trying to manage the situation while investigating the sad occurrence before trouble broke out. We are on top of the situation and all the hoodlums responsible would be rounded up. If not for the timely intervention of joint security personnel coordinated by the Area Commander, the terrorists would have had a field day. Repelling the hoodlums was a tedious task for our security agencies, but they were successful as the terrorists scampered away from the scene,” he said.
Jalige, who did not confirm the number of casualties, however said a joint security team would comb the bushes in the area Sunday afternoon to search for bodies, if any, to arrive at full body count, as well as apprehend the suspected masterminds of the killings.
NDLEA arrests ex-Boko Haram fighter
In a related development, a rehabilitated ex-fighter of the Boko Haram terror group, Alayi Madu and the traditional ruler of Kajola, a border community between Ondo and Edo states, Baale Akinola Adebayo, were among 37 persons arrested over 2.2 tons of illicit drugs seized by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Ikeja, Lagos; and in raids across 12 states in the past week.
The agency, in a statement Sunday by its Director, Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, said: “As part of the ongoing operations to mop up illicit drugs across the country ahead of the next round of elections, NDLEA officers in the early hours of Friday, 10th March, stormed Kajola forest in Kajola community, a border town between Edo and Ondo states, where they destroyed three cannabis farms measuring 39.801546 hectares.
“The owner of the farms, who claims to be the Ba’ale of Kajola, Akinola Adebayo, 35, was arrested on the farm at 2:30am, while two other suspects believed to be his workers,: Arikuyeri Abdulrahman, 23 and Habibu Ologun, 25, were also nabbed in a hut near the farms.”
Abuja-Kaduna express road
In the same vein, a 26-year-old Alayi Madu, who was a Boko Haram fighter for 15 years before he surrendered to the Nigerian military in 2021, was intercepted by NDLEA operatives Thursday, 9th March, along Abuja-Kaduna Express Road with 10 kilograms of skunk, which he claimed to have bought in Ibadan, Oyo state; and was taking the consignment concealed in a sack to Maiduguri, Borno state.
In his statement, Madu said he hails from Banki town, Borno state and joined the notorious terrorist organisation 2006 when he was nine-year-old.
The suspect said he repented and surrendered to the military in 2021, after which he underwent rehabilitation and de-radicalisation processes at Umaru Shehu Rehabilitation Centre, Maiduguri and Malam Sidi De-radicaliation Centre, Gombe, before he was discharged after spending six months.
Thereafter, he travelled to Ibadan, Oyo state, where he worked as a commercial motorcycle rider (Okada rider), before going into drug trafficking and his eventual arrest along Abuja-Kaduna express road.
At the MMIA, Lagos, operatives, acting on intelligence, intercepted a consignment of 11.90 kilograms of heroin and 500grams of skunk concealed in deep freezers, which were part of a cargo that arrived from South Africa Tuesday, 7th March, onboard Ethiopian airline, via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The agency’s sniffer dogs, Babafemi said, were deployed to locate where the illicit drugs were hidden in the cargo; and in no time, they identified the cartons packed in the deep freezers.
“A total of four suspects that played active roles in the movement of the drugs and a truck driver have been arrested so far in connection with the seizure,” he said.
They include: Dairo Quam; Oluwaseun Ogunmene; Adeleke Abdulrasaq; Bamidele Adewale and Oluwafemi Ogunmeru.
Meanwhile, NDLEA operatives attached to the Gate C departure hall of the MMIA Thursday, 9th March, intercepted a passenger, Aigbedion Philomena heading to Italy via Addis Ababa on an Ethiopian Airline flight.
When her bags containing body cream, hair attachments, drinks, and some food items were searched, a total of 1.20kg tramadol capsules concealed inside gift wrapping sheet and covered with old daily newspapers were discovered, the statement said.
Also at the Idiroko land border, the NDLEA operatives, acting on intelligence on Thursday, 9th March, intercepted a commercial Toyota Camry Salon Car with Reg. number JJJ 756 HB (Lagos), along Ilase-Akoko road, Idiroko, with 34 compressed jumbo size wraps of imported skunk weighing 17kg and concealed in two cooking gas cylinders.
Two suspects in the car, Benjamin Ajose, 48 and Oluwatobiloba Ajayi, 37, were arrested.
Similarly, in Akwa Ibom state, Mrs. Hope Iniobong David, 42, was arrested with bags of cannabis sativa weighing 1,112kg (1.1 tons) in her house at Ediene Abak in Abak LGA, while operatives in Kogi state Thursday, 9th March, recovered 25 cartons, containing 50,000 ampoules of pentazocine injection weighing 200kg in a Toyota Hiace bus marked LAM 652 LG, Kogi, travelling from Lagos to Abuja.
Also, in Ogun state, operatives arrested a female drug dealer, Bola Egbebi in Ota local government area with different quantities of Cannabis Sativa, Methamphetamine, Tramadol 225, Skuchies, Molly and Codeine cough syrup.
The statement also said in Gombe state, another female drug dealer, Fatima Hassan (a.k.a Boss), was arrested Saturday, 11th March, in her house at New Mile 3 area of Akko local government area with three and half blocks of skunk weighing 3.245kg.
Two other female drug dealers: Folake Ladipo and Adeola Babatunde were arrested with 49.5kg skunk on Friday, 10th March, in Mushin area of Lagos state.
Kwara, FCT, Benue, Delta, Kano too
In Kwara, operatives on patrol along Ilorin-Jebba highway Tuesday, 7th March, arrested two suspects: Ismaila Saidu and Dahiru Abdullahi with 50 bags of cannabis sativa weighing 578 kilograms, while in the FCT, Abuja, 15 suspects were transferred by the Nigerian Army with 35 bags of cannabis weighing 384.3kg.
A 56-year-old suspect, Shinayemà Kelenku was arrested at Tse-kelenku village, Logo local government area of Benue state with 36.7kg skunk, while in Delta state, operatives intercepted a suspect, Chimeze Ndukaire, 56, conveying psychotropic substances worth over N30 million in a white Toyota Hiace bus with registration number Lagos FST 279 XS coming from Onitsha to Warri.
The vehicle was intercepted Friday, 10th March, at G.S.M junction, Asaba, based on a tip-off.
Recovered from the bus were 267.3 litres of codeine (2,673 bottles); 25,110 pills of tramadol and other opioids.
In Kano state, NDLEA operatives Saturday, 11th March, raided the Sabon-gari area of Kano where they arrested a suspect, Chukwuebuka Christopher and recovered from him 7,740 bottles of Codeine based syrup, measuring 774 litres, concealed inside 43 sacks of garlic.
Chairman/Chief Executive Officer NDLEA Brigadier-General Mohamed Buba Marwa (retd) commended the officers, men and women of MMIA, Idiroko, Edo, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Kogi, Ogun, Gombe, Lagos, Kwara, FCT, Benue, Delta and Kano Commands of the agency for their diligence and commitment to work.
He charged them and their compatriots across other commands not to rest on their oars.