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Grief-Stricken Anxiety of Neighboring Communities of Sabon Birni

Early in the morning of Friday, May 29, dozens of villagers were sighted leaving their homes in fear of another attack in their community despite the words of assurance by the state governor and other security agencies operating in the local government area.

Bilyaminu, a resident of Garki who watched how armed terrorists killed his wife and three children, said “ life is meaningless here for me, no one to protect us, the security agencies will leave us again at the mercy of the bandits. Fleeing is the best option for us to survive.”

On Wednesday night, a group of armed men believed to be terrorists launched attacks on the communities of Garki, Dan Aduwa, Kuzari and Masawa close to the town of Sabon Birnin Gobir in Sokoto State, killed several people, including women and children.

The conflict rendered hundreds of local farmers stranded with no option than to leave their comfort zone to neighbouring communities of Niger Republic.

Hassan Maigari of Gigane village said “the group doesn’t like us to farm, once they see you farming they will demand some huge amount of money and if you don’t have, they will send a warning to the community. If we do not meet their demands, they will unleash their attacks on us.”

Several reports indicate that the group also enforces a levy of N500 per head of cattle and some amount of money on local farmers and failure to pay results in deadly raids.

The people of Gatawa in the area also expressed worry for their safety.

On Saturday, May 30, 2020, the group arrived in the community around 10:53 p.m., killed four persons, injured many and kidnapped two others.

An Islamic scholar in the community, Murtala Gatawa, said: “We tried to protect our community by providing security but they over-powered us due to their sophisticated weapons.

” My own concern is the way they are raping our women and girls and kidnapping young ones.”

In his response to the recent attack in Sabon Birni, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Saadu Abubakar III, noted that “people can no longer go about their normal businesses in the area.

“Insecurity has gotten to the point that you will be in your house and somebody will just come and pick you up.”

He pointed out that the first and foremost job of any leader was to protect the lives and property of the people.

“Leaders must not forget that God will ask them on the Day of Judgment the way they conducted their affairs,” he stressed.

The state Governor, Malam Aminu Tambuwal, had said on several occasions that the government had provided enough security to protect local communities but the people do not believe the assurances.

A source alleged that “the security agencies are not conducting themselves professionally and normally arrive at the scene of an attack after we have suffered badly at the hands of the bandits.

” So why will we believe the government while many of our family and relatives are dying every day and the government is saying the same thing every day?”

Saidu Delege, the member representing Sabon Birni in Sokoto State House of Assembly, said: “every day we are in trauma, masses are in living in fear, traditional leaders are also crying and we don’t even know what to do for now.

“I am ready to lead the military to the base where the bandits are operating in the bush, I am no longer afraid of anything again. We lost our mothers, fathers, wives and children, so what is the meaning of life here?”

However, the state Commissioner for Security, Garba Moyi Isah, said: “the government is doing its very best to contain the situation despite some people always accusing us of not doing enough.”

He said that the military had huge work to do because almost every state in Nigeria was facing a serious security challenge.

HumAngle learnt that in Sabon Birni and its neighbouring communities, the terrorists often change their mode operation.

Field information available to HumAngle suggests that the criminals operating in Sokoto East are more than 200 and are divided into different groups of no fewer than 20 fighters per group.

Despite the presence of personnel of the Nigerian Air Force and other military officials in the area, the terrorists operate freely without much difficulty, sources said.

Many independent local sources interviewed by HumAngle expressed fear that the armed conflict in the area was creating serious mistrust between the locals and the government

According to the sources, the people suspect that some top government officials and security agents have hands in the conflict.

They said the people’s suspicion was based on the fact that the armed groups often sent messages or signals before the attacks.

The sources added that sometimes when people reported security issues to the authorities they would not act in time and only responded after the attacks.

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