As armed banditry rages in Zamfara State, more than 3,000 residents were forced to abandon their homes and take refuge in Dansadau town. This follows deadly raids on the villages of Madada, Kukar Mago and Katoge.
Some of the IDPs in Dansadau told Daily Trust how they escaped the deadly attack on their communities by the gunmen.
Lawali Saidu, a father of two, re-counted to our reporter how he narrowly escaped being killed after the gunmen opened fire on them while they were selling fuel in his village, Madada in Dansadau District.
“Dozens of armed men arrived at the village around 4:00p.m. on motorbikes. Some of them alighted from their bikes asking the black marketers by the roadside for fuel. They didn’t even wait for answer. They started shaking the jerry cans to ascertain the availability of the fuel.
“You mean you don’t have fuel here” one of them barked at a black marketer called Aminu, who was standing beside me. As they were checking the gallons, they noticed two 50-litre gallons filled with fuel. They carried the gallons, fuelled their motorbikes and rode off.
“We realized their mission and I advised my friend to close for the day. We understood that the gun-wielding men were preparing to attack a community. But we didn’t know the exact village they were heading to. My business partner, who was marketing the fuel in the village then said since they didn’t even harm any one let’s continue our business. We understood that apprehension had hightened in the community after the residents saw the motor bike riding armed gang,” he said.
“Few hours later,” Lawali further narrated, “another gang on motorcycles arrived desperately looking for fuel. But when we informed them that another group had come earlier and made away with all the available fuel, they started a shooting spree, firing at every living soul. I can’t tell you how I escaped and found myself in Dansadau town.”
Another victim of the attack, Amina Surajo, said when the gunmen started shooting at anyone in sight, everyone in the community was scampering for safety as the whole village was thrown into pandemonium.
“Women and children ran towards different directions screaming for help. I didn’t know the whereabouts of my children neither did they know mine. Some days later, a team of youths was dispatched to go and look for the missing children in the forest. Even though we were reunited with our children, we are still in shock as we are battling to come to terms with why we would be subjected to such cruelty,” she added.
“Some pregnant women gave birth inside the forest out of intense fear and tension. The situation was very bad. Children and even women were crying all day, all night. We had to re-locate to Dansadau town where we think is relatively safer. We have left behind all our belongings.” Amina further recalled.
Nura Muhammad Liman is the son of the Chief Imam of Madada village. He is now recuperating from gunshot wounds on his lap after bullets pierced through his leg. He also recalled what happened to him: “I was on my way to the farm with my brother. Two men came on a motorbike pretending that they had missed their way to a community.
“We were about to show them the way when they started shooting at us. We all ran into the forest and I didn’t know that bullets slightly bruised my lap until when I arrived at stream. I noticed blood gushing out. As for my brother, I was thinking that they had killed him. Luckily he wasn’t as he arrived home few minutes after me,” Nura added
Another woman told a tearful story of how her son, Isah, was killed. “Only two of us slept in the village of Madada when the gunmen shot my son dead while he was working on his farm. He left behind 10 children and a pregnant wife,” she said.
A group known as Dansadau Progressive Movement (DAPMO) through its secretary, Halliru Bello, said 500 residents were killed and 1,935 cows and other domestic animals rustled in different attacks on 27 villages in Dansadau Emirate alone in the last six years.
The secretary said dozens of houses were also burnt in the attacks by the rampaging bandits, adding that over 5,000 hectares of land in the emirate may go uncultivated this year unless something urgent is done to curtail the menace.
“We have added the figures because we have been monitoring the events as they continue to unfold. I can tell you that we are in a horrible situation and we will conduct you round to see for yourselves.
“Armed bandits attacks on Madada, Katoge and Kukar Mago all in this district have displaced over 3,000 residents. We have the figures of those that are taking refuge here. There are 278 men, 610 women and 2,444 children,” he said.
Halliru further explained that despite the operation being carried out by security operatives they are yet to get respite. He said most of the IDPs are living in schools, some in residential houses and even filling station.
“The residents in those communities have abandoned their farmlands. Some have planted seeds but all were abandoned. This week, about 30 trucks conveying residents moved outClement A. Oloyede