Armed ViolenceNews

Three Months After Troops Cleared Darul Salam Cells, Villagers Return Home

Some of the residents of communities surrounding Uttu forest in Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, Northcentral Nigeria, who fled their homes due to the presence of terror group, Darul Salam have started returning, HumAngle can report.

This comes three months after troops of the Nigerian Army neutralized the terror cells in the forest.

HumAngle learned that about 20 villages around the Uttu forest were deserted by due to incessant attacks by the terrorists who they referred to as ‘bandits’.

Some of the few inhabitants of the area who were have returned to their homes are now calling for additional security personnel to enable others to return home.

The Uttu forest covers a large span of the area from Toto Local Government in Nasarawa State to Koton Karfe in Kogi State and Abaji in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nigeria’s seat of power as well as part of Benue State.

Investigation revealed that the terrorist group had lived in the forest for over 10 years in which it members unleashed mayhem on the communities around the area.

They also carried out attacks on motorists plying the Nasarawa-Abaji, Konton Karfe-Lokoja and Toto-Umaisha roads.

Sources said the military personnel from Kenyehu Super camp tried to establish another base to hunt down remnants of the bandits scattered in the forest.

A few months ago, the Nigerian Army praised the Nasarawa and Kogi state governments for heeding its advice to open up the dreaded Kenyehu Uttu forest and contiguous hills in Toto Local Government Area.

HumAngle investigation reveals that on Sunday, September 20, 2020, the four Special Forces Command of the Nigerian Army based in Doma, Nasarawa State conducted a clearance operation in the forest and destroyed identified terrorist hideouts.

During the operation, no fewer than 778 family members of the suspected terrorists and bandits consisting mostly of women and children were rescued by troops. It was reported that several suspected terrorists were neutralized and a large cache of arms and ammunition were recovered.

Few of the inhabitants who have returned recount their experiences.

At Turunku village, Tanko Maikasuwa, a 72-year- old community leader, who returned with his family a month ago said his wife was kidnapped by the terrorists but was rescued by the military before they could take her into the forest.

He also said most of the inhabitants of the village are still in Abaji and Lokoja and are scared to return home.

Nuhu Dauda, Chairman of Toto Local Government Area, said the local government needs special intervention from the state and local government for it to take care of the citizens who have been devastated by the security situation.

The traditional Ruler of Umaisha, the Ohemegya Opanda, Usman Abdullahi Commended the efforts of the military for restoring normalcy to the area.   

Security sources informed HumAngle that the Army had observed that opening up access into such remote and isolated area with attendant infrastructural development would bring governance and prosperity to such hitherto ungoverned spaces and enhance the security in the area.

Journalists who visited the area a few weeks ago reported in the local media that they were escorted by eight military personnel and that the journey to the camp from headquarters of Toto Local Government lasted about two and half hours on a motorcycle. 

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