Three days after operatives of the Joint Security Task force left their camps at Allawa and Bassa towns in the Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, bandits again invaded the communities, sacking the villagers from their abodes.
The bandits raided the camps after men of the taskforce left their bases last Friday, setting the camps on fire after burning their operational vehicles.
The state government had defended the action of the security operatives, saying it was to enable them restrategise for the task ahead.
However, a report from the area indicated that not less than 100 gunmen invaded the Allawa area yesterday morning during which they reportedly operated for close to four hours.
The bandits, according to the report, did not bother to shoot into the air to scare the villagers, but went from hut to hut making away with the people’s property.
The villagers, however, ran helter-skelter while the bandits rustled all their animals with ease.
“Nobody was killed by the bandits during the operation,” an eyewitness said, but added that “the bandits went about destroying the shops and houses of the villagers.”
The eyewitness said a pregnant woman who escaped into the bush for safety was delivered of a baby, but the bandits surprisingly made sure other women assisted her.
The Allawa community is now deserted as the people had all fled to neighboring Pandogari town where they are currently taking refuge in primary schools and in open spaces without food and water.
The eyewitness said: “As I talk to you now, the situation is very pathetic; the whole community is deserted, the people have fled the town without taking any of their belongings along with them.”
Co-convener of the Shiroro Youth Movement, Abubakar Yussuf Koki, when contacted on the phone, confirmed the report, saying virtually everyone has left the village since soldiers were withdrawn from the place.
Neither the police nor government officials could be reached for comments on the latest development.
The state Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, had last Saturday defended the withdrawal of soldiers from the Allawa forests, saying their redeployment was to help them “restrategise.”
Bello, who regretted the “deadly attack” and killing of the security agents, in a statement made available to journalists in Minna at the weekend, told the communities “not to be apprehensive but should remain calm as the security agents have retreated to re-strategise, and have not left them completely.”
However, the Senator representing Niger East senatorial zone in the National Assembly, Sani Musa, had pleaded that the action (withdrwal of security agents) be reconsidered as it will be counterproductive.
Musa said the solution to ‘persistent headache is not the chopping off of the head’, as such; the security operatives should reconsider their action in the interest of the poor people.