- Death toll in gunmen attacks hit 103
- Villagers flee as APC condemns massacre
From Lawal Sa’idu Funtua, Katsina
President Goodluck Jonathan’s two-day working visit to Katsina state has been overshadowed by the massacre of citizens in various communities across some local government areas of the state, leaving behind blood and agony among citizens.
Ahead of the president’s arrival yesterday to commission various projects executed by the Ibrahim Shehu Shema led administration in the state, dare devil gunmen had between Monday and Tuesday laid siege to the southern part of Faskari local government area as well as parts of Sabuwa local government area of the state, killing at least 12 people, including a monarch.
On the eve of the president’s visit, however, the daring gunmen went back to the same communities as well as others in the vicinity and killed more people, raising the death toll to 103, according to various sources.
As at yesterday when Jonathan promised the people of Katsina that the state would be linked up with railway line to allow for easier movement of goods and passengers, the joyous mood was largely polluted by the reports of the loss of lives.
The president had also promised to complete the Zobe Water Project for there to be water supply for the state even as he vowed to complete the Lambari Rimi Windmill Electricity Project.
Some of the projects being commissioned by the president during the two-day official visit which ends today include the multi-billion Naira Katsina Ring Road, the new Katsina Government House, the 250 bed space Katsina Orthopaedic Hospital, the Olympic Size Katsina Stadium, named Karkanda Stadium, and the Songhai Multi- Purpose Farm.
But the euphoria expected to follow Jonathan’s pronouncement yesterday was blighted by the killings which had dominated even the media space across the country and beyond yesterday.
Reports from the attacked communities indicated that after the raid of the early hours of Tuesday where 12 people were killed, including a monarch, the daring armed men returned Wednesday around 7.00pm where they continued with their killing spree.
Residents said about 100 armed men on motorcycles on Tuesday and Wednesday evening invaded Kurar Mota, Marabar Maigora, Sabon Layin Galadima, Unguwar Doka, and Maigora, all in Faskari local government area of Katsina state.
A witness who said he narrowly escaped and later returned to his village told newsmen that he attended the burial of 27 people in his hometown, Maigora. He said he later attended the burial of another 21 people at Sabon Layin Galadima, while 40 people were killed at Marabar Maigora; seven in Kurar Mota and eight in Unguwar Doka.
Many of the victims, among them women and children, are believed to have been set ablaze inside their houses.
The witness, who did not want to be named, said they believed the attackers were cattle rustlers on a reprisal mission as many of them had been arrested and handed over to the police in recent times.
A member of the House of Representatives, representing Kankara, Faskari and Sabuwa Constituency, Barrister Abbas Abdullahi Machika, described the situation as “a total declaration of war on the Nigerian State”.
Machika said: “Look, to say 103 were killed is an understatement because up till now, people are still recovering corpses from the bushes. Like Unguwar Gora, the town was completely razed by the assailants. People are in a terrible situation”.
The lawmaker disclosed that people in the affected communities have started relocating to safe areas, and called on security and emergency agencies to come to the aid of the affected communities by providing them with essential items.
Unconfirmed reports had it that the villagers were fleeing their abodes because the gunmen had promised to return and launch further attacks.
When contacted through SMS, the Katsina police command spokesman, DSP Aminu Abubakar Saddiq simply said: “It’s not true. 5 people were killed”.
Meanwhile, the Interim Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Katsina state chapter, Architect Ahmad Musa Dangiwa, has condemned the recent killings of people and destruction of properties in Faskari local government area of the state.
Dangiwa, who made the condemnation in a statement made available to newsmen in Katsina, said the killings were both frightening and disturbing as according to him, people were being killedb indiscriminately and their means of livelihood destroyed.
The APC chairman alleged that “for two days, the people of this area were facing attack from the hoodlums yet no help came their way. The people were left at the mercy of these merciless killers without any help”.
He similarly decried a situation where the president continued with his visit in the state despite the large number of people killed in the attacks when, according to him, no attempt was made to visit and share in the grief of victims.
“In a situation where all the policemen in the local areas were relocated to the state capital to provide security for the president’s visit, certainly these areas were left vulnerable for attack. This is a condemnable act,” Dangiwa fumed.
The chairman however commiserated with those who lost their loved ones and prayed God to continue to protect the people of the area against the hoodlums.
Meanwhile, President Jonathan had ordered the military authorities to immediately launch massive operations in Daji Kogo, the suspected hideout of the bandits and flush them out to end the incessant killings in some localities in Katsina and Kaduna states.
The president gave the directive yesterday during a State Banquet organized for him as part of his two-day working visit to Katsina state.