…How 9 villagers were murdered in Niger
Houses, farmlands burnt
Halima Bello, a 55-year-old housewife at Rafi Gonna village, Sabon Daga, in Bosso Local Government Area of Niger State, is among the estimated 6,000 women and children displaced penultimate week, during an invasion by suspected Fulani herders, the latest of such incidents in the state.
Until recently, inhabitants of the community who are predominantly farmers, had lived peacefully with their guests and neighbours, but the peace they savoured over the years was truncated in a split of a second, following a squabble between a young Fulani herder and a Gbaggi farmer over grazing rights. The altercation culminated in a bloody clash, which initially claimed two lives.
Alarmed by the development, Governor Abubakar Sane Bello raced to the troubled spot to make peace and checkmate further calamity.
He did not succeed in his mission as evident 24 hours after his departure, when hell was let lose as a group of suspected herdsmen went on rampage at midnight, shooting and razing any object in sight, including houses, vehicles, yam barns and other farm produce.
When the smoke cleared two days later, no fewer than nine persons including a police inspector and superintendent of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) deployed on rescue mission were killed, and farm produce estimated at N700 million burnt by the invaders.
Halima is yet to come to terms with the reality of her fate. She recounts how the gains of her labour farm produce worth over N1 million as well as a motorbike she purchased for her son, Usman, was torched by the marauders. To make matter even worse, Usman was also killed by the attackers.
Her husband, Ibrahim, who is the district head of the village, said the family’s lose was yet to be ascertained.
He said after harvest last year, he completed a new house, acquired a Toyota Tundra van and motorcycles for all his children in appreciation of their hard work in the farm. All these, he said, were turned to rubbles.
Asebe Musa, another victim who lost her husband a month before the attack, lamented that life can never be the same again for her, as everything the husband laboured for were destroyed overnight.
The suspected herdsmen burnt down her late husband’s three barns of yam, and a car he bought two years ago.
They also destroyed a house her 24-year-old son built preparatory to his marriage in June. She is presently sheltered by her brother-in-law at Maikunkele, headquarter of Bosso Local Government Area, along with her four children.
Chairman of Bosso Local Government Council, Alhaji Isah Wakili, painted a grim picture in the aftermath of the invasion.
“I can tell you that almost all the houses in the villages, including yam and corn barns, were completely burnt in the attack. We put the estimate of all damaged properties at over N700 million.”
He said while over 5,000 displaced Gbaggi villagers were scattered across neighbouring communities, about 1,000 displaced Fulani herdsmen were at a IDPs camp located inside a private farm in the state.
Normalcy is yet to return to the affected communities, even as the state government had mobilised a military and police detachment to the area.