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Fears In Kwara Over Influx Of Bandits From Zamfara.

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SINCE the news of the purported relocation of terrorist kingpin, Bello Turji, from Zamfara State to Kwara State forest broke, residents of Kwara State have been gripped with apprehension which security agencies have been trying to douse with assurances of the security of their lives and property.

The lawmaker representing Gummi/Bukkuyum Federal Constituency of Zamfara State in the House of Representatives, Suleiman Abubakar Gumi, had claimed that the bandits’ leader, Turji, believed to be in control of about 150 terrorist groups in the North, had fled into a forest in Kwara State.

Gumi described Turji’s unconfirmed relocation as a sign that the military had dislodged him from his stronghold in Shinkafi Local Government Area of Zamfara State.

He said “I have seen what happened in the Shinkafi area. I believe it is a stronghold with about 150 groups, most of them under the command of Turji. Now we heard that he is on the run. Some are even saying he is in a Kwara State forest. That is what we are hearing. It is unconfirmed but definitely he is on the run.”

During the week, residents of Obbo-Ayegunle in Ekiti Local Government Area of Kwara State told Saturday Tribune that five suspected Fulani bandits had arrived in the area and were threatening to unleash mayhem in the forms of kidnapping and killing unless the inhabitants provided them with the sum of N2 million.

Sources in the area said that it took the intervention of the vigilance team in the agrarian area to repel an attack of the bandits and drive them away from the area.

One of the community leaders in Obbo Ayegunle, Chief Olaniyi James, in an interview with Saturday Tribune, called on the state government and the security agencies to improve on surveillance and intelligence gathering to nip the security situation in the bud.

The community leader, who said that some of the rampaging bandits might be some of the prisoners that escaped from the Oyo correctional facility towards the end of last year, called on security agencies to redouble their efforts and ensure that the activities of the criminal elements were not extended to the state.

Bandits demand N5m from villagers

It was also gathered from the state command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) that about two weeks ago, some bandits invaded a rural community called Anguwa Danlami in Edu Local Government Area.

A report of the NSCDC, after investigation of the invasion, revealed that the bandits asked the people to provide the sum of N5 million or they would set the whole community ablaze.

The report, presented by the Divisional Officer, Bode Saadu Division, CSC Babatunde Lukman, reads in part: “Having received directive from Area “B” commander on Anguwa Danlami being threatened by bandits, the personnel of Bode Saadu Division swung into action and through the action taken, we discovered that Anguwa Danlami is under Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State but very close to Ifelodun and Moro local governments. There is no motorable road from Moro except at Iyana Bacita that one can use to access Anguwa Danlami. There are three villages between Iyana Bacita and Anguwa Danlami, namely, Gbadan, Mafara and Lakanla Bacita.

“Two of these villages fall under Moro Local Government while Lakanla Bacita falls under Ifelodun Local Government and Lakanla Bacita is the nearest village to Anguwa Danlami.

“During our investigation, we contacted Malam Ibrahim, the Zeriki of Anguwa Danlami. In his conversation with us, he confirmed that two weeks ago, they received a call that ‘we are bandits and the sum of five million naira (N5,000,000) must be paid to us or we will attack your community and set the whole community ablaze’.

“We also heard that Vigilance Group of Nigeria (VGN) group from nearby villages around Anguwa Danlami was on ground, providing security to the said village.”

However, the police in the state have denied the report of the purported relocation of the notorious bandit, Turji, and his gang to one of the forests in the state.

The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ajayi Okasanmi, said no such thing had happened, wondering: “Where did they get that?”

Okasanmi, who described the rumour as unfounded, stated that the police were partnering other sister security agencies to ensure adequate security in the state.

He said: “The police, the military, we are all on our toes. All boarder areas in the state are being well policed. Our intelligence officers are everywhere. We are also working with the military as well as vigilantes and hunters. We are also asking for information from the people; that they should report to us if they have any information on suspicious or strange movements. But as of now, we are saying that there is no cause for alarm. All those stories are unproven and those people are just talking out of fear as against what is on ground here in the state.”

On Wednesday, the state police command also issued a statement titled ‘Re: Bandits’ Leader, Gang Members Relocate to Kwara Forest’.

The statement reads: “The Kwara State police command wishes to reiterate for the umpteenth time, her determination to ensure the safety and security of residents of the state at all times.

“The command wishes to also inform the general public that necessary security strategies have been emplaced across the length and breadth of the state by the police command, in synergy with sister security agencies and non-state actors.

“This press statement became necessary to diffuse the tension already created in the minds of the public by the statement making the round on many social media platforms credited to one federal lawmaker in the House of Representatives to the effect that a fleeing bandits kingpin named Bello Turji and his gang who were facing a terrible time with security forces in Zamfara State have relocated to an unidentified forest in Kwara State.

“However, the statement did not reveal the source or veracity of its assertion. The command wishes to state categorically that Kwara State is safe and secure. Members of the public are advised to go about their lawful businesses without fear of attack or intimidation.

“All the boundaries, both local and international, within the state have been well and massively policed by both the police and the military. Vigilante and local hunters are working tirelessly with security agents to ensure that our forests are well monitored and protected.

“The Commissioner of Police, Kwara State, CP Tuesday Assayomo, has directed a 24-hour patrol of all entry and exit points to the state while tactical units have been re-energized with provision of additional patrol vehicles and other needed tools and incentives that could aid them in the performance of their assigned task.

“The CP advises members of the public to make information of strange movements and activities around them available to the security agencies at all times.”

Culled from Nigerian Tribune



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