By Prof. Abdussamad Umar Jibia
The exact number of kidnapped worshippers in a late night attack on a mosque in Jibia township is still being verified. Eyewitnesses said the attackers numbering less than twenty, most of them teenagers surrounded the mosque while Tahajjud prayers were being observed and threatened to kill anyone who attempted to escape. They shut two of the three doors to the mosque, beat the Imam and switched off the public address system. They later left with a number of worshippers including women. As usual security operatives only came when it was over and they did not follow the armed bandits who were said to come on foot.
But this is not the first attack in Jibia LGA this Ramadan. Many other attacks took place in the rural areas as part of the Ramadan gift the bandits gave to the people. For example, two weeks ago a failed bandit attack took place in Magama-Jibia which left three of the attackers dead. The failure was due to the vigilance of the people.
Another attack that consumed the life of a staff of Jibia LGA information department also took place last week at Kukar Babangida (actually Kukar Zaure; it was renamed Kukar Babangida by the late Emir of Katsina after General Babangida launched a tree planting campaign at the location during his military rule). The target of the attack was a woman related to a prominent traditional ruler in Niger Republic. When he heard her screaming for help, her neighbor came out to assist. Unknown it him, it was the unusual people. They shot him in the stomach and left him dead. They moved the woman down to the forest. The security operatives who came later did not follow them. I have just heard that they called to ask for a ransom of N150m.
It was in this Ramadan too that another farmer, Alhaji Musa Audu was killed by bandits near ‘Yan gayya. His sin was that he owned a herd of camels numbering 41 which the criminals took away after they shot him.
Among the Jibia LGA communities attacked in this month of Ramadan were Kusa where another woman was kidnapped, Dan gari where two people were shot, Kwarare where cattle were rustled, Garin Gado and Karauki. There are many others in remote areas that are only heard about long after they took place.
Many things have changed about banditry in our area. The bandits now branch in communities and ask for things as ordinary as food or drinking water. Sometimes they wait to be given and at other times they enter and eat any food they find and leave as villagers helplessly watch. It was gathered that when they were moving the lady from Kuka and they observed that she was not wearing good shoes and hijab, they branched at a hamlet, entered a house and selected a good cloth and shoes for her to wear.
The bandits now steal anything. The other day a relation of mine in one of the villages told me that they branched in their hamlet only to pick his generator and go. They also now rustle birds like chickens and ducks at gunpoint. People who use motorcycles to move between villages now risk having their motorcycles seized and themselves kidnapped.
Another dangerous reality is that people who can afford to buy arms to defend themselves are no longer waiting for Government. So personally, the only call I m making on Government is to reform the law on the possession of firearms to allow individuals and communities to buy AK47, AK49 and whatever kind of dangerous weapons it has not been able to stop the criminals from owning. Legalizing it would give Government control over legal ownership of the firearms through licensing.