President Muhammadu Buhari has warned military authorities not to let off their guards in the fight against banditry as he reacts to the murder of many villagers by bandits over the weekend.
He said the days when the bandits had a free hand to do as they wished must not be allowed to return.
The president gave the charge in a statement issued yesterday by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, following bandits’ attacks on Sabon Garin Damri and Kalahe villages in Bakura Local Government Area of Zamfara State between Friday and Saturday where between 40 and 56 people were killed.
Residents said the gunmen arrived at Sabon Garin Damri on Friday on dozens of motorcycles, firing at people. They also attacked a hospital in the community and razed it down.
“In Sabon Garin Damri, they killed at least 26. Thereafter, the armed men moved to Kalahe village and killed more than 10 persons there. In between these two communities, at least 40 bodies were recovered,” a resident identified as Aminu Yusuf, told Daily Trust.
Our correspondent gathered that at least 43 persons killed in the attacks had been buried.
Two weeks ago, more than 10 of the bandits were killed by troops following a gunfight.
The troops repelled an attack on the Bakura community and were able to seize large herds of cattle rustled by the armed men.
It is unclear if the weekend attack was in retaliation for the killing of the 10 criminals.
The spokesman for the state Police Command, SP Muhammad Shehu, could not be reached for comment at the time of filing this report.
Both the police and the Zamfara State government were yet to issue any public statement on the killings as of the time of compiling this report.
Buhari, in the statement, lauded the military for the incessant onslaughts and for not showing any let up as they continued to achieve positive outcomes in the North West and particularly Zamfara State, which had been a hotbed of criminal activity.
He said there appeared to be a relative calm in the state, with situations returning to normal in most parts and the rural communities ready to live their lives normally again.
However, the president said that there had been several breaches, especially in view of the bandits’ attack on Damri, Sabongarin Damri and Kalahe villages and lately, Maradun, where a number of casualties were recorded.
“We mustn’t allow the return of days when the bandits had a free hand to do as they wished. The rural folk in Zamfara and elsewhere must be allowed to have peace.
“Therefore, the momentum that has been developed must be sustained in order to bring closure to the activities of these murderers,” the president directed.
Buhari, who expressed condolences to the families of the victims as well as the government and people of the state, said the combined efforts of the federal and state governments must do all that could be done to bring an immediate end to the horrific killings.