By Idibia Gabriel & Kajo Martins
It was a rain of blood and tears in parts of the country yesterday as the reign of terror heightened in Kaduna and Benue states, as insurgents, the military and police suffered casualties in the ongoing battle against banditry and terrorism.
Latest report revealed that 10 people were killed, while four members of the Anglican Church of Zaria Diocese were reportedly kidnapped by suspected terrorists along the Kachia-Kaduna Road in Kajuru Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State.
This is just as the Nigerian Military raided and destroyed hideouts of criminals who attacked troops around Bonta village and adjourning communities in Konshisha Local Government area of Benue State, killing 12 armed bandits who were part of the gang that carried out the attack on the soldiers last Monday.
The Benue State Police Command also confirmed an attack on SYMMETRY Trading Company Limited in Ukum Local Government Area of the state leading to the killing of 2 police men, 1 expatriate and two others kidnapped.
Also the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom confirmed the missing of two military personnel during a communal strive between warring communities of Konshisha and Oju Local Government Areas of the state.
In Anambra State, two youths were also shot dead in Awka, the state capital on Wednesday in what appeared to be a cult war.
The Kuduna incident was said to have occurred in the early hours of Tuesday when the terrorists barricaded the road and opened fire on a bus said to belong to the church, and a truck carrying firewood.
Authorities of the Anglican Church confirmed the attack to journalists. Official statement by the State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs in Kaduna, Samuel Aruwan, however stated that eight people were killed during separate attacks in the area on Tuesday.
The Archbishop of Anglican Church, Kaduna Province, Most Reverend Buba Lamido, said the bandits abducted four of the passengers, injured four others while the driver of the bus was shot dead.
He stated that one of the injured persons have been discharged from the hospital while the remaining three were receiving treatment. Aruwan, on his part, had also told journalists that 10 people were killed on Tuesday and four others injured in separate attacks by bandits in Kajuru, Chikun, and Kachia LGAs.
He said armed bandits barricaded the Kaduna-Kachia Road around Kadanye village in Kajuru Local Government, and opened fire on a bus.
Five people, according to Aruwan, were killed in the attack, and three others sustained gunshot injuries, while a truck driver was killed at the Doka axis of the road when bandits shot at his vehicle.
“In Kachia LGA, bandits invaded a herders’ settlement in Inlowo village, killing one Ibrahim Haruna before carting away 180 cows belonging to the victim. “A group of armed men also attacked Akilbu village within Kachia where two persons sitting in a vehicle were shot,” it state.
In Benue, it was another story when the Military raided and destroyed hideouts of criminals who attacked troops around Bonta village and adjourning communities in Konshisha Local Government area of the state.
Bonta Community of Konshisha Local Government Area had been at daggers drawn with Ukpute-Ainu community of Oju Local Government Area over land, a development which made government to draft military troops to patrol the area to keep peace.
On Monday evening, troops deployed to maintain peace between the two warring communities were on patrol around Bonta village when they were reportedly ambushed by the ‘Bonta Boys’.
By the time the dust settled, it was gathered that the Bonta Boys’ allegedly seized some of the soldiers on the grounds that they (soldiers) destroyed their roadblocks.
A source from the area who does not want his name in print disclosed that the military who stormed the village with helicopters and with the support of land troops had destroyed all houses and hideouts suspected to be housing armed bandits in the area during which several arms were said to have been recovered.
At the time of filing this report, residents of Bonta village and environs have all deserted the area for fear of attack and are currently taking refuge at Tse-Agbaragba, headquarters of Konshisha Local Government Area.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Catherine Anene said she was not aware of any such raid by the military in Konshisha Local Government Area.
Efforts to speak with Force Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini failed as all his lines were switched off at the time of this report.
Meanwhile, Ortom confirmed the missing of two military personnel during a communal strive between warring communities of Konshisha and Oju Local Government Areas of the state. Ortom who made the disclosure on Wednesday while briefing journalists after an expanded Security Council meeting with stakeholders from the two local government areas held in Makurdi, reiterated the need for Benue people to support security agents deployed to end crisis in their areas.
He admonished the people against attacks on security agents, saying such acts would make the situation extremely difficult to contain.
The governor explained that as part of measures to nip the land dispute between Konshisha and Oju in the bud, it was agreed that the boundary be demarcated and a day was fixed for the exercise.
According to the governor, few days to the agreed date, crisis erupted again and security agents were deployed to control its escalation when the troops sent to Konshisha came under attack with two military personnel still missing. He condemned the practice of some communities engaging militia to fight their neighbours, stressing that such merchants of violence would be made to face consequences of their actions.
He charged stakeholders from the two local government areas to preach peace to their people and avoid the temptation of taking laws into their hands. Some soldiers of Operation Whirl Stroke (OWPS) were said to have arrived in Bunta community in Konshisha and Okpute in Oju Local Government Areas to maintain peace over a disputed land which lingers for some times.
It was gathered that one side of the communities have hired militia men who always appear in military uniform to attack the opponent and such soldiers were mistaken to be militia bandits and were attacked.
Also confirming the attack on SYMMETRY Trading Company Limited on Wednesday in Ukum Local Government Area of the state, where two police men, one expatriate were killed and two others kidnapped in a statement, the Police Public Relations Officer for the Benue State Command, DSP Catherine Anene, said, the incident occurred on 7th April, 2021 at about 0730hrs when a distress call was received from Police officers posted to escort Expatriates from the company.
“A distress call was received from police offers that they came under an attack of gunmen who laid ambush at the site under construction before their arrival.”
According to the statement, during an exchange of fire with the gunmen, two policemen and one of the expatriate lost their lives while two of the expatriates were kidnapped.
The statement added that police officers have been deployed to the area for trail of the hoodlums and rescue of the kidnapped victims.
The incident was coming few days after stakeholders from Sankera area especially in Shitile had met in Makurdi with a resolution to persuade youths from the area to stop wanton killing and destruction of lives and property in the axis.
The Daily Times gathered that youths in the area have faulted the gruesome murder of their militia leader, Terwase Akwaza otherwise known as ‘Gana’ during military operations last year.
The youths there have listed conditions to allow peace to reign in the area to include withdrawal of military presence and handing over of local markets to them to collect internally generated revenue for their upkeep.
The Anambra State Police Command spokesma, DSP Toochukwu Ikenga, who confirmed the killing incident, said operatives had been drafted to the scene to prevent further breakdown of law and other.
Ikenga said preliminary findings suggested that the deceased were killed by members of a rival cult group. “It is an incident that involved suspected attack by a rival cult group.
The victims were rushed to the hospital and confirmed dead on arrival by a medical doctor. “A combined team of anti-cult operatives and divisional police personnel led by the Divisional Police Officer, `B’ Division Awka, is right at the scene. “Investigation is still on-going,’’ Ikenga said.
The shooting occurred near a popular new generation church where tricycle operators had an office. A resident who witnessed the incident said the assailants arrived in a tricycle and opened fire on the victims, killing them in the process.
The source said the deceased were toll collectors for the tricycle union in the unit and that the attack had no bearing to protracted cult wars which had resulted in the death of many youths in Awka.