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Special Report: Amid Poor Govt Expenditure on Internal Security, Boko Haram Displaces, Inflicts Pain on Niger Residents

In this report, WikkiTimes’ Yunusa Umar writes on the horrors and pangs of residents and farmers in agrarian communities in Shiroro local council of Niger State after Boko haram’s invasion that led to the destruction and razing of houses, farm reapings, castles, and unending kidnapping and wanton killings in the raided villages.

On the evening of 11th February, terrorists who fired multiple gunshots left a trail of destructive atmosphere in Allawa and neighboring villages. These attackers have been ruthless to the communities, setting up fire on multi-million properties, endless kidnappings, and continued killings.


Farmers Live in Perpetual Fear 

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Timothy Gwadabe, one of the survivors of Boko Haram’s attack in Allawa’s village, recounted his ordeal during the invasion, saying that he was trapped in his room when the gunmen attacked his village.

Niger Residents are killed and displaced by Boko Haram amid Poor Govt Expenditure on Internal Security....

Resident in his razed house

In Gwadabe’s words, “I was trapped in my room when multiple gunshots were fired. When they came, Boko haram first disrupted the peaceful atmosphere that evening with gunshots and we ran into our houses”.

The peasant farmer decried that his four rooms were affected by fire put on by the terrorists during the raid in Allawa village.

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“From there, they set houses ablaze. Luckily, God escaped us. We found an escape route”, he told WikkiTimes. “I lost four rooms and other valuable properties including huge monies”

“20 bags of Maize and 15 bags of soybeans were also put on fire. We suffered to farm these food items but we lost them in minutes ‘, he said in his cracky tone of voice, adding he would start another life now.

Another farmer, Mikailu, who escaped from a gunmen attack in his Geloko’o village, is now seeking refuge in Allawa to protect his life and properties. According to him, he said Allawa is not at peace either. 

Niger Residents are killed and displaced by Boko Haram amid Poor Govt Expenditure on Internal Security....

Mikiilu after Interview 

“My five big goats and one room were razed down including food items”, he said.

The young farmer who narrated said he would have lost his soul during sporadic gunshots in the village but luckily ran out of the blaze.

“I would have lost my life during the invasion in Allawa village. I luckily ran out after the houses were put on fire. “I’m pleading with the government to help us over these frequent incidents that are happening. No life was lost during the attack but many of the residents fled after invaders left our homes”, he said with his body fidgeting.

Many of the farmers who spoke to WikkiTimes are now in dire need of humanitarian support as subsidy removal has brought inflation and hunger to the country.

Jibrin Abdullahi Allawa, one of the community leaders told WikkiTimes that Boko Haram’s mode of operation changed in recent times.

He said, “Their mode of operation changed this month and whenever they see people. They shoot at them. Apart from that, they loot food items and burn other properties”.

“The affected residents whose houses were burnt down, are now taking refuge in neighboring villages”, explaining further that women were raped and food items were looted in the past.

He stated that the last kidnapping that occurred in the village was on the 4th of February when 25 persons were taken away along Allawa-Pandogari road.

Houses, Other Properties Set On Fire

Like Maiduguri, Niger State has been frequently attacked by Boko Haram terrorists, kidnapping, killing defenseless locals and setting properties ablaze. Tsoho Allawa, one of the victims who lost half of his farm harvest bitterly lamented that his properties were razed on fire. 

 Peasant farmers stood his razed buildings

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According to him “I completely lost my four rooms to the marauding gunmen including my motorcycle and N100,000 burnt down. My farm harvests like 10 bags of maize which I suffered for, were set alight”.

“The gunmen stopped me inside my house before destroying my properties. I lost all farming means”, he bitterly narrated with teary eyes. “I have been drawn to nothing but luckily, I was not shot”.

The peasant further calls the attention of the concerned bodies and government to take decisive action against these daredevil gunmen.

   Burnt houses

Findings by this reporter show that over 50 houses were burnt down by daredevil terrorists, leaving locals like Musa Allawa, a peasant farmer who is now without a house, accommodated by neighbors. 

Musa in his razed home

He narrated his ordeal to our reporter with pain written over his face that his entire bungalow was set ablaze by Boko Haram terrorists.

“I was away from home and working in the bush when Fulani terrorists chased us away. I was helped by Soldiers”, he recounted. “I was in the bush for 3 nights before meeting soldiers. They met me on the road and picked me up.

The farmer could not hide his pain over houses and the farm harvest burnt down, “I lost all my house to the burning that occurred in the village and my two wives are elsewhere.

 Razed store where food items were stored

“The terrorists could not spare even our farming harvests. Now, we have nowhere to sleep”. We are tired of suffering in the hands of these gunmen”.

He further urged Niger State governor to find an everlasting solution for this menace for the residents not to live in fear to farm.

In April 2021, the former governor of the state, Abubakar Sani Bello raised an alarm over the presence of Boko haram elements, hoisting a flag in Kaure village of Shiroro local government. Since then, the residents of Shiroro communities have been waylaid and killed by terrorist groups such as Boko-Ham, Bandits, and The Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP).


Bassa

Unguwan Usman

Unguwan Bello

Ihuru 

Karaga

Roro

Unguwan Palwaya


Above are the names of villages recently under insurgent attacks by terrorists in Shiroro.

However, WikkiTimes understands that Shiroro and a few other local governments including Rafi-Kagara, Munya, Tafa, Mashegu, Magama, Mariga and Wushishi are also affected by terrorist attacks in the state.

Unending Attacks, Killings And Kidnappings

Between last week Thursday and this last Saturday, terrorist attacks in four rural communities__ Bassa Kiringi, Unguwan Usman,  and Allawa have been escalating, posing fears of kidnapping and killings among local farmers living in the affected areas.

In an interview with Usman Ibrahim Kuta, the chairman of the coalition of Shiroro Youths told WikkiTimes that his union is not relenting in seeking humanitarian support for the affected residents.

“Their houses and properties burnt down as they are in dire need to recover. Also, we have been calling the government and NGOs to come to the rescue of our people”, the coalition leader told this reporter.

He implored the government to further intervene as a matter of urgency to rescue affected communities.

“About four villages were under attack by monster gunmen. Over 30 victims were kidnapped by the monsters since the attacks have been occurring”, he stressed further. 

According to him, his people need serious humanitarian help as the attacked communities are taking refuge in camps and neighboring villages.

A concerned resident and businessman, Adamu Umar, who is married with two children noted his community faces endless gunmen attacks in the village.

Umar speaking to WikkiTimes

The 35-year-father lamented that he has suspended opening his shop to avoid being attacked. His fear of being attacked by gunmen has brought hunger to his means of survival.

“In the mining site, some locals digging for gold were gruesomely murdered by Boko Haram’s gunfire in the attack”, he said.

“Our government should come to our aid as hunger is biting us harder which was caused by fear and attack. We need to farm to feed ourselves”, he further said. 

Abass UsmanVigilante
Abdullahi JibrinVigilante
Lazarus EmmanuelVigilante
Zahradeen Nabuzuwa

Local-miner
Yahaya AdamuLocal-miner
Names of victims killed during the attack

Three Vigilantes Paid Ultimate Price During Gun Battle

Alhassan Ibrahim, a vigilante leader in Shiroro who spoke to WikkiTimes narrated that his three warriors lost their lives in a gun battle in Bassa village. 

“The three vigilantes___Jibrin Abdullahi, Abass Usman, and Lazarus Emmanuel lost their souls during a gun battle with terrorists in Bassa village.

In his words, “the village had information that the gunmen would attack Bassa community. The killed vigilantes didn’t wait for them to come. They went to their enclave and started exchanging fire and lost their lives”.

He told WikkiTimes that Boko Haram reprised the attack in Bassa on Saturday and burnt houses and other multi-million properties.

“Now, it is only a few houses left in the community untouched and only about 7 houses remain in the entire Bassa village. They didn’t kill anybody but came to loot and burn houses”, Ibrahim added.

Also, Vigilantes in the Shiroro axis blamed lack of rifles and motorcycles to defend their ancestral home as unending violence continued in their region.

“We use a pump action gun which has 8 cartridges. Immediately we finish wasting it. We have to reload guns”, he said. “And those terrorists we are facing do come with over 200 arms”, he told this reporter.

Bullets fired during gun battles

He further told WikkiTimes that killings started in a neighboring village where houses were burnt and other valuable properties.

“We put it in our minds that we want to protect lives, properties and our communities”, Ibrahim said, stressing that the government has not been supportive.

According to him, vigilantes toured many terrorized villages within the axis with a shortage of motorcycles, lamenting further their motorcycles were burnt in the Kwaki community. 

He pegged figures of motorcycles burnt by invaders within range of 42, narrating that 19 were burnt in Kwaki while 23 others were razed in Galadima-Kogo. Ibrahim further told WikkiTimes, that the vigilantes’ motorcycles burnt down by the terrorists have not been replaced despite vigilantes facing a series of challenges to confront the heavily armed terrorists.

Continued Promises to Strengthening Security, yet insecurity fails to Abate

Over time, there have been promises by the government to tackle the menacing insecurity bedeviling the state.

In May 2023, the Niger state governor,Umar Bago, promised to tackle insecurity in the state.

The Nigerian President recently approved a security vote of N50 billion to tackle insecurity in five Northern States (including Niger), although there have been issues of accountability around security votes. For instance, states were reported to collect N375 billion annually as security votes. 

The report went on to state that Niger state for instance receives N15.7 billion annually as security vote.

Niger state domiciles its internal security under the ministry of local government. In 2023, the ministry had a total budget of N279.2 million, however there was a performance of N106.4 million at the end of the year, representing 38.1% performance.

Of the amount spent by the ministry, zero naira was expended on capital expenditure for the year 2023.

In 2022, the ministry’s total budget stood at N142.9 million, with an actual expenditure of N505.3 million at the end of the year. Despite spending this money, the state did not spend any amount on capital expenditure for 2022 also.

Another ministry domiciled under the office of the secretary to the state government, is the “ministry of internal security and humanitarian affairs” , in 2022, it recorded 0% budget performance for capital expenditure.

In 2023, while the ministry planned N478.9 million as capital expenditure, only N77 million was spent at the end of the year.

More review

In 2023, under the office of the secretary to the state government, another item was listed as “cabinet and security”, with 0% budget performance recorded for capital expenditure.

WikkiTimes checks of the 2023 budget performance documents of the state for instance shows that expenditures listed as “other expenditure “ stood at N1 million for the ministry of internal security and humanitarian affairs.

The Niger state security trust fund also recorded only “N2 million budget performance for the whole of 2023”.

A further deep dive into the 2023 budget of the state shows that items listed as “police services” (under public safety and order), recorded a 0% performance. 

In 2022, under the tag “other expenditures”, the ministry of internal security and humanitarian affairs recorded 0% budget performance.

It was the state expenditure to support police services  for their capital needs that stood at N360.5 million in 2022.

Capital expenditures are used for purchase of equipments and other assets. Poor capital expenditure would deny the state needed fund to buy these equipments , some of which the vigilantes and local outfits claim not to have .

Government Fails to React

When WikkiTimes contacted the deputy governor of the state, Comr. Yakubu Garba, his number was not available. SMS and WhatsApp messages sent to him remained unanswered as of press time.

WikkiTimes also contacted the Chief Press Secretary to Niger State governor, Bologi Ibrahim, he however did not pick calls nor replied messages as of the time of this report.

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