Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto
Police in Sokoto State as denied media reports that suggested an invasion of a new militia group in one of the local councils in the state.
Reports indicated, on Friday, that some armed groups, carrying sophisticated weapons were now in control of the council and subsequently applying strange laws that attract punishment.
Some residents of the affected communities said the armed groups were invited by their leaders few months ago to fight against kidnapping and cattle rustling.
But briefing journalists, on Saturday, after an on-the-spot assessment to the council, the state’s Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Murtala Usman Mani, insisted that the groups were Malian herdsmen on grazing mission to the area.
He described the groups as ‘herdsmen’ believed to be on annual visit to the communities owing to availability of water for their animals.
He also noted that the herdsmen were not known to be violent but were strongly suspected to be armed.
The police boss, who spoke through the Command’s Public Relations Officer, DSP Cordelia Nwawe, said on receipt of the information, the Command activated an intelligence gathering and surveillance to have a reasonable understanding of the situation for proper and further actions.
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“The news of the presence of herdsmen suspected to be Malians and armed known as Lakurawa has been making rounds lately.
“We want to categorically debunked that they are militia on invasion of the area.
“The herdsmen are reasonably believed to be Malians and reside in a forest in Niger Republic sharing border with Gudu and Tangaza local government areas of Sokoto State.
“It is believed that they come to the area largely owing to availability of water for their animals.
“These herdsmen according to intelligent gathered from compete authorities of the area are annual visitors to the nearby forest bordering the two LGAs with their cattle even though the number of the cattle increased exponentially this year to 3,00 from the usual figures of about 500 to 700,” he explained.
The Police boss said the apprehension of the villagers could be unconnected to the activities of armed bandits in neighbouring Zamfara State.
He urged the people of the areas on the need for proactive information of such nature to enable the Police to arrest any unforeseen incidents.
“The situation of the areas remains calm and no ugly incident has been recorded since the sighting of these herdsmen.
“We have engaged the traditional and religious authorities of the area through collaboration.”