SSuspected Boko Haram terrorists have infiltrated many communities in some areas of local government in Niger state, reports the Daily Trust.
They reportedly ordered residents to remove their children from formal schools, residents said and expressed fears the attack would escalate in the coming days if nothing was done.
The terrorists had also ordered residents, Muslims and Christians, to marry their daughters at the age of 12 or face consequences, we learned.
Recent events have culminated in arson by armed men in Niger State, who have been described as “bandits” for a very long time. Terrorists had killed hundreds of people in Niger and the contiguous states of Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi.
Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello alerted Sunday to the presence of Boko Haram insurgents in Niger, citing recent security breaches in the state.
“We have every reason to believe that we are not dealing with bandits. Since the last operation, the way they coordinated and planned the attack also confirmed to us that they must have received some sort of training, ”the governor said.
Several bomb mines, allegedly laid by Boko Haram, have been discovered in the local government area of Shiroro, in the state.
The governor called the bandits Boko Haram fighters.
For example, after a series of attacks on villages in the LGAs of Shiroro and Munya on Sunday April 25 and Monday April 26, the governor told reporters that “the attackers included not only bandits but also members of the Boko Haram and their next target would be Abuja, just two hours away.
The governor claimed that in Kaure, an LGA village in Shiroro, the attackers hoisted a Boko Haram flag and controlled the area.
Daily trust recalled that members of Ansarul-Islam and Darul-Salam were dislodged from parts of Niger State a few years ago.
The besieged Shiroro, Munya and Rafi communities
The alarm raised by Governor Bello on Sunday was echoed by the president of the LGA of Shiroro, Suleiman Chukuba, on Monday.
Daily trust reports that in recent weeks, communities in the local government areas of Shiroro, Munya and Rafi have witnessed further attacks by suspected Boko Haram fighters, resulting in the deaths of several people.
Chukuba said: “On the issue of the influx of Boko Haram to Shiroro, four neighborhoods have been affected.
He said locals were tricked into believing the invaders were Boko Haram insurgents because of their preaching style.
“They told the villagers that they had money to help them and that they also had weapons to give them to fight the government. And this is the same doctrine that we know the elements of Boko Haram promote, ”he said.
He said information from the affected areas indicated that elements of Boko Haram were forcing communities to marry their daughters at the age of 12.
The director general of the National Emergency Management Agency of Niger (NSEMA), Ahmed Ibrahim Inga, while confirming the recent upsurge in attacks, said the incidents had increased the number of people in camps for internally displaced people in the country. interior of the country (IDP).
He said the main camps in the towns of Gwada and Kuta in the LGA of Shiroro had witnessed a massive influx of casualties.
Witnesses and victims told our correspondent that the modes of recent attacks were different from those of the bandits, claiming that the attackers were members of the Boko Haram sect.
They also lamented that the invaders ordered them not to recognize any constituted authority.
A resident of the area and co-organizer of Concerned Shiroro Youths, Bello Ibrahim, told our correspondent that terrorists have invaded many communities.
“At one point, they were in Kawure, the village of the former senator representing Niger-East, David Umaru. But there was a joint military task force operation that dislodged them.
“They were fired during the operation but after a while, since there is no military base in the area, they got together again. For now, they’re not just in Kawure. They also extended their tentacles to other communities like Kuregbe, Awulo and others.
He said terrorists were carrying out nefarious activities.
“In the Awulo and Kuregbe communities, they gathered the inhabitants, Muslims and Christians, and gave them the corresponding order that any 12-year-old girl be married. “
Another resident who spoke confidently said the criminals were operating freely.
“They mingle with the villagers. They have become the constituted authority in these villages. They force the inhabitants to obey them as their rulers.
“Throughout the Chukuba and Kuregbe neighborhood, elements of Boko Haram are operating there, not the bandits that we know,” he declared.
Abubakar Sani Yusuf Kokki, a resident of Shiroro, said that the appearance of the attackers in some communities recently confirmed that they were members of the Boko Haram sect.
“During the recent attack on the village of Magami in the LGA of Shiroro, they first entered the mosque and started reciting the Quran… So their approach is different from that of the bandits.”
Daily trust also learned of the presence of terrorists in the Audu Fari forest in the LGA of Borgu state.
A resident who spoke confidently said that the cult members had been in the forest for a very long time.
Also, an audio message addressed to the Emir of Audu Fari, again confirmed the presence of the terrorists.
The man in the audio said in Hausa: “We are in this forest because of the authority that you (emir) serve, which is the government of Nigeria, which is not worthy to serve. We call people to the path of Allah. White men have imposed their culture on you. Anyone who supports the government is considered by us to be an infidel and an unbeliever, even if you call yourself a Muslim, ”the man said.
He said any citizen found aligning with security agencies would not be spared, including vigilantes. When contacted, the Niger State Police Command declined to comment.
A security source said the attackers were loyal to the late Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, who committed suicide in his enclave in Sambisa Forest in May 2021.
The source said since then many Shekau infantrymen had moved to parts of the north-central and northwestern parts and operated in small groups while others had infiltrated various bandits and continued their infamous raiding activities. in communities, killing people and kidnapping others for ransom. .
Many security experts and some political leaders had called for the designation of bandits terrorizing the North West and Center-North as terrorists.
The latest appeal was made by the National Assembly which called on President Muhammadu Buhari to call them terrorists and use all instruments of coercion to decimate them.
Contacted by one of our correspondents last night, the Acting Director, Defense Media Operations, Brig.-Gen. Bernard Onyeuko did not answer several calls made on his cell phone.
He had not yet responded to the text message sent to him to find out whether the army was aware of recent developments in Niger.
But a source close to the military said: “At the moment, we don’t have the manpower and the equipment to take on these theaters and we are not proactive enough. In addition, intelligence units have not conducted extensive profiling of these criminals and have a common database accessible to key law enforcement agencies to act on. Until this is done, I doubt we can fix the issues.
“All of our borders are still porous for small arms and light weapons to enter the country. It’s a big gun business now and thousands of people are making a fortune out of it, ”he said.
Another source said: “The truth is that since 2014 we have written to the DIA, that the Shekau terrorist group of the time had dissidents fleeing Sambisa towards Kano, Kaduna, Birnin. Gwari, Niger and Nasarawa States and the Need to Rescue Them. But typical of our attitudes towards serious national problems, no action has been taken. Now the same scenario is playing out… ”
Intelligence Collection, Use Only Solution – Experts, CSO
A Minna-based civil society organization, the Blue Resolution Initiative, attributed the influx of Boko Haram insurgents into the state to security agencies’ lack of use of intelligence from affected communities.
Initiative President Mohammed Danjuma Abubakar said: “Our security agencies do not use residents’ reports. And also, there is no proper synergy between local government and state and security agencies.
“And these criminals take advantage of these gaps and get in. Therefore, all of these media reports and community reports should be used well by the security agencies. It would help manage the situation, ”he said.
A retired police deputy commissioner, Abubakar A. Yahaya, said: “The security agencies are doing their best, but there is still room for improvement. Intelligence reports from villagers should not be ignored.