John Adams, Minna
As the controversy over the actual number of deaths in last Sunday’s armed bandits attacks on some communities in Shiroro local government of Niger state rages, the senator representing Niger East senatorial district where the massacre occurred, has insisted that no fewer than 69 people were killed in eight communities.
The state government had accused the senator of exaggeration the number of casualties, saying that the figures being quoted by him “is an attempt to make Niger State unsafe in the eyes of the world.”
The police, state government and the state emergency management agency all gave different figures of the people that died during the two days attacks.
The Police Public Relation Officer of Niger State police command, DSP Mohammed Abubakar, while confirming the attacks on Monday said only 12 people died while 18 were injured but the state emergency management agency (NSEMA) however, told journalists that 40 bodies were recovered from different locations in the affected communities.
However, the state government through the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet and Security, Government House in a statement on Monday, claimed that the death toll before the swift intervention of joint military task force was 12 while 18 others were injured.
The state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello on Monday during his visit to the IDPs camps in Erena for on-the- spot assessment of the situation, one week after the attacks, said 37 died while 20 were injured.
Senator Umoru, while reacting to the conflicting casualty figures coming from the government and its agency, said that trading on the figures “goes to show that the government is not in touch with the suffering masses who have been in this horrific situation for upwards of two years now.
“It is gruesomely wicked for the government to be claiming that the lives lost were 12 while 22 were injured when even its own agency, Niger State Emergency Management Agency as at Monday, June 10, 2019, gave the number of the dead to be above 40 and still counting,” he lamented.
Umoru regretted that it was rather unfortunate that the state government, instead of owning up on its ineptitude and insensitivity to the plight of the people for more than two years now, “has chosen the path of unprovoked, malicious attempt to malign my name for giving out the actual figures on the death toll.
“The life of a single person should matter and its loss is regrettable and calls for serious concern. It is more painful when such life is lost in a preventable circumstance.”
The senator submitted that for any serious and concerned government, this should have been a period of mourning, “a time for introspection and strategising to be proactive so as to forestall further and future occurrences instead of indulging in pettiness.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I still re-echo it that not less than 69 people were killed by the bandits, several injured and cattle rustled. Out of this number, 55 bodies have been found whilst the search for the remaining bodies continues.”