John Adams, Minna
Normalcy is gradually returning to communities in Shiroro local government area of Niger State invaded by armed bandits, where over 70 people were said to have been killed, 100 injured and about one thousand others rendered homeless.
This follows the massive deployment of the military and the Inspector General of Police’s (IGP) Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) to the eight affected communities.
This is even as the state government and the senator representing the area, Senator David Umoru, are engaged in war of words over casualty figures from last week’s bloody massacre.
According Senator David Umaru, in whose constituency (Niger East Senatorial district) the killings occurred, within the last six days, 58 people have been killed by the bandits suspected to be cattle rustlers.
This is in addition to the 12 people that were killed on Sunday when the attack first occurred, a figure confirmed by the police.
While giving the breakdown of the causality figures, Senator Umoru pointed out that 19 people have died in Kwaki village, 14 in Barden Dawaki village, while eight died in Ajatawyi village.
Other casualties, he said, include seven dead in Gwassa, five in Ajayin Bataro, four others in Bwailo, three in Baton village and two reported dead in Giji village.
The senator, who said he was in constant touch with the communities, giving him a minute-by-minute account of the attack, also disclosed that over 800 heads of cattle were rustled during the period by the bandits.
But the state government, none of its official having visited any of the affected communities, faulted the claim by the senator, saying that the “figure is not only grossly exaggerated, but the reports in the media credited to Senator Umoru is spurious and unfortunately an attempt to make Niger State unsafe in the eyes of the world.”
The government in a statement signed by Alhaji Isah Aliyu Ekan, Permanent Secretary (cabinet and security) further stated that “the Senator’s claim is, to say the least, fictitious and also a mischievous attempt to generate ill-will between the people of the affected area and the state government.”
The government, in the statement, claimed that “First, the death toll before the swift intervention of the military joint taskforce was 12, with 22 wounded, and not 70 as purportedly claimed by David Umar.”
Both the government and the senator are yet to visit the affected communities one week after the attacks which rendered over a thousand people homeless.
However, a member of one of the affected communities (Kawli) who identified himself as Mallam Buhari, told Daily Sun in a telephone interview that normalcy is gradually returning to the communities even though the people are yet to return to their homes.
He said that all the displaced people are still taking refuge at six different IDP’s camps in neighboring communities under the watchful eyes of security agents deployed there.
Daily Sun gathered that military personnel in six Hilux vehicles, and SARS personnel in 60 motorcycles, provided by Senator Umoru have been deployed to the communities.