John Adams, Minna
Banditry in Niger State took a different dimension on Sunday morning when raiders, backed by an unidentified helicopter, attacked no fewer than four communities in Shiroro local government area of the state, killing five people.
Among those killed in the early morning attacks were a pastor, who also had his church burnt down, a blind man and three other villagers.
Over 1,000 cattle were rustled from the four communities by the bandits who the people said numbered about 50 in an unspecified number of motorcycles.
A source close to one of the communities told our correspondent that an unidentified helicopter was hovering around these communities throughout the three hours that the operation lasted.
‘We even thought that the helicopter came to attack the bandits for us but it was only just moving round the communities until the bandits finished and left,’ the source said.
The communities that were overrun in the latest attacks are Nankuna, Nansa, Eburo and Lagodo, all in Erena District in Shiroro local government area.
‘I am sure the cows they carried are over 1,000 because they pack all the cows in these four communities. They spent over three hours operating here and the helicopter was just flying around.’
At a small settlement in Nansa, the bandits were said to have burnt down the entire farm produce in the storages in anger when they met no one at the settlement.
It was gathered that the villagers had taken to their heels and ran into the bush before the bandits arrived.
According to our source, the blind man met his death in the hands of the gunmen when he was coming out of the bush after he had gone to toilet, while the pastor was shot at close range right in front of his church before his congregation arrived for service.
‘They killed the pastor in front of the church in the morning before people could start coming to church. He was alone when they shot him in the head, but the was killed when was coming out bush,’ said the source.
Meanwhile, the abductors of the four construction workers with Tractia Nigerian Limited have demanded a ransom of N700 million after the company said they could not afford the N1billion earlier demanded.
While the negotiation is still ongoing between the bandits and the company, a source close to the company disclosed that one of the victims had escaped from the bandits on their way to Kaduna.
The man who had been reunited with his family said he managed to escape in the process of crossing a shallow river when their motorcycles fell and rolled down the valley with the bandits who were conveying him.
Armed bandits had on Wednesday last week stormed the construction site at Erena, kidnaping an Assistant Chief Technical Officer and three other staff.