By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
A likely humanitarian crisis is in the offing in Niger State as colonies of mobile armed bandits ransack villages and communities in Rafi, Shiroro, Zungeru and Munya council areas displacing thousands of people from their homes into settler camps.
Barely hours after the attacks at Kokoki and Alawa villages of Shiroro council area of Niger state on Monday, armed bandits believed to be same gang of marauders took over three communities of Rafin Wayam, Rafin Kwakwa and Gidan Dogo Gurgu of Rafi council area on Tuesday and sacked villagers and carted away food items and other valuables including motor cycle.
The Internally Displaced People’s camp in Kagara, (a primary school) is now swelled up with displaced persons beyond its capacity with it’s attendant consequences of health challenges, hunger, diseases, squalor and malnutrition especially amongst infants, minors and pregnant women and as well as some lactating mothers.
In Zugeru, armed bandits last Saturday swooped on the community and sacked villagers after which they took away their valuables including foodstuffs, cash and animals.
The same sad stories were replated in Kusherki area of Rafi council area, Kurebe village and Ajata community of Shiroro council area where armed bandits on motor cycles raided the communities, looted their food barns, wares, flock and farmlands.
On Tuesday, a band of bandits on twenty one motorcycles carrying over thirty persons, arrived at Rafin Kwakwa village fully armed with assault rifles.
They shot sporadically into the air to scare away the villagers and took away a motorcycle belonging to a man after one of them had threatened to kill him.
The armed bandits beat up some of the villagers and took away food items including bread, confectioneries, soft drinks and fuel kept in jerricans by black market operators.
However, the Commissioner of Police, Niger state Police Command, Adamu Usman said in a radio programme monitored by our correspondent said the police was collaborating with the Military to rout out the bandits.
He attributed the unhindered operations by the bandits to the difficult terrain of the areas where the armed bandits raid. He said the criminals who used motorcycles to access the communities, get away from the village with their booties before the police could get there.
Adamu Usman assured that security agencies in the state have spread their dragnet to check activities of the criminals.
But the bandits according to accounts by villagers, are often seen in village squares, especially on market days carrying their arms unhindered.
Palpable fear of attacks by these band of criminals has since gripped most rural dwellers who have been fleeing their communities to settled in settler camps before they are raided.
The development has put lots of pressure on the existing Internally Displaced Peoples Camps, (IDP) and the ability of the state Emergency Management Agency to carter for victims of both natural calamities occasioned by flooding and the additional insurrections by criminal armed bandits.
And as more and more rural communities come under attacks from the criminal armed bandits, most of them young men in their twenties and probably early thirties, the state government is apparently caught hapless and helpless.