Plateau: End of the road for 18 bandits, 2 wicked traditional rulers

A youth leader in Wase town, Sambo Shapi’i told Daily Sun that the bandits were killed in a combined operation involving security operatives and vigilantes, who tracked the bandits to their hideout in the border community of Kampani Zurak....READ FULL ARTICLE

He further disclosed that the bandits were attacked and neutralized, including some local traditional rulers, Sarkin Yakin Kampani and Wambai of Kampani, suspected to be the accomplices of the bandits and had, over time, sold the community for their personal gains.

“The incident occurred around 11am while they were holding a meeting in the area. It was a coordinated effort by security operatives and vigilantes from Wase and neighbouring communities in Taraba State,” Shapi’i stated.

Abdullahi Usman, a native of Wase, also disclosed that the bandits were being haunted by security agencies after the raid on Sunday market at Kampani Zurak and met their waterloo during their meeting when security agencies and vigilantes acting on credible information swooped on them.

“The bandits gathered in one place when suddenly, the security personnel and the vigilantes stormed the area. They had been targeted since after the recent attack on the market in the area.

“Based on credible information, they were confronted at one location. Their accomplices were also tracked down and killed,” he explained.

The spokesperson of the Plateau State Police Command, DSP Alfred Alabo, when contacted, said the area was not under his jurisdiction to speak as the particular location in question falls under Taraba State.

Communities in Wase Local Government Area of Plateau State recently expressed serious concerns over the emerging security threat, particularly the return of notorious bandits, who sometimes run into Taraba forest.

The invasion of Zurak Sunday Market in March this year left the fate of the communities hanging, believing that another dark cloud of insecurity seems to be hovering over them as another farming season approaches.

Mr Abdullahi Umar, a native of Zurak in Wase LGA lamented that bandits, over the years, have continued to strike in their numbers, carrying out attacks at will without any challenge and still return to their base.

“On March 10, 2024 after some relief and the return of relative peace in Zurak community of Bashar chiefdom in the last seven months, bandits in their numbers invaded the Sunday market in Zurak and killed seven people.

“You know, the place have been bedeviled by banditry activities over the years even though there were some efforts that calmed the situation and there was relative peace in the area,” he said.

The invasion led to the deployment of DSS alongside other security personnel with vigilantes carrying out routine patrol in the area as bandits operations in the area has over the years continued to be a serious nightmare to the locals.

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“This is not the first time that bandits came in large number to attack a market in the area. They have been doing this for long but the will from leaders to end it is the problem.

“In fact, there was a time, around Gimbi area of Mavo chiefdom in Wase close to Kadarko, they invaded a market like that and killed between five and seven people. That was three years ago. These people do come out in their numbers and would just open fire on people.

“In Kampani Zurak, the banditsbhave been coming and walking around the market with their arms in broad daylight light and you can’t say anything. They have, time without number, killed a lot of innocent people.

“The bandits keep chasing away local farmers out of the farm lands. Seriously speaking, it is not a small number of people that these guys have killed. Whenever people are busy going about their normal activities, the next thing you will hear is gun fire,” he lamented.

The unfortunate development in Gimbi some years back is said to have claimed the lives of both Taroh, Fulani, Jukun and the Burmawa people in that market. A University of Jos student, a native of Taroh, who went home on a break and stepped into the local market to do some shopping was killed.

It was gathered that towards the 2023 general elections, the hostile environment occasioned by the activities of the dreaded bandits was put to a halt by men of a private security outfit said to have been facilitated by the then deputy speaker, Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase.

“Aside from the efforts of the private security outfit, there is no tight security in the area like that. Security men only go whenever there is a problem and after they contain the situation for a while, they come back.

“But assuming that security personnel are stationed there, I strongly believe they would have contained the trend completely. I know that it is not easy to maintain security, but if the political will is not there, the security personnel will not do anything,” he said.

Wase Local Government Area of Plateau State is known for its huge mineral deposits, attracting various mining companies over the years. It is as well an agrarian area that produces rice and yam in large quantity aside animals such as cows and sheep, among others.

“The fear of our people now is that we are approaching farming season and we don’t know what would happen with farming this year if they continue with these attacks. operations. Certainly, people will not be able to go to farm this rainy season, if security is lacking.

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“The people of Zurak after sleeping with their eyes closed for the past seven months can not sleep any longer. Honestly speaking, they are not at peace. They were thinking it was over only for another resurgence.”

Mining activities in the council area has, over time, continued to attract both the good, the bad and the ugly, a situation Umar strongly believe is contributing to the insecurity in the area.

“I see mining as a major driving factor of these bandits and because is a very large forest, they come out, operate at will and still go back to the forest.”

Some of the locals are of the opinion that deployment of more personnel is required as well as the establishment of a permanent security presence might remain the best option rather than troops going and coming back at all time with little results.

In a related development, the invasion of another local market within Kumbur in Wase LGA on March 8, popularly known as Forest Market has also sparked serious apprehension among poor local communities in the area.

Daily Sun gathered that the 2006 crisis that engulfed Wase LGA, leading to the slaughtering of so many people inside the fenced central market in Wase town led to the establishment of a satellite market by natives of Taroh and Jukuns at Kumbur community with Friday also as their market day.

Mr Joseph Nanvel told Daily Sun that the satellite market came under heavy attack by some suspected hoodlums believe to be mercenaries from Wase town on March 8, after years of uncertainties with pressure on the operators of the satellite market to close and return to the old market.

According to Nanvel, “after the 2006 crisis in Wase where our people were slaughtered inside the central market which is a fence market, our people (Taroh and Jukuns) pulled out of the old market and we established our own at Kumbur.

The market is for cattle and farm produce, it is often called Forest market and it holds every Friday. Our people do come with cows and we also do have local brew (burkutu) among others things that attract people to the market.

“The market came under attack and structures were burnt down completely by some mercenaries, who came in their numbers between 4pm and 5pm of that Friday, ” Nanvel explained.

He further said that part of the market has been relocated to Gindin Samiya junction in Yaudara, far away from Wase town and close to the Awangyio river (Kogin Wase River). Locals trooped on March 15 with their goods while few went to the burnt market rendering skeletal services but vowed not to go back to the old central market in Wase town come rain come sun shine.

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There has been apprehension among the people who are considering retaliation as the best bet where amicable peaceful resolutions are not established among the warring communities of Wase LGA.

It was also gathered the the invasion of the Forest Market by suspected mercenaries came one week after some individuals allegedly engaged some soldiers to give them cover to pluck mangoes on a disputed land but faced seriously resistance by the locals.

Mr Maga Samanja is one of those who sustained gun shots on March 3 when some men of the Nigeria army alleged to have led some youths from Wase to pluck the mangoes under dispute.

“I was just coming back from COCIN Church Imyer (Kogin Kasa) on that faithful Sunday, March 3, with my Bible in hand. I didn’t even know what was happening but I saw soldiers in our community. While working to my house, they shot at me, I don’t know what was my crime.

“They shot at my right leg and I lost so much blood. I was rushed to the hospital and I’m now receiving treatment,” he explained

The spokesperson of the special force, Major Samson Nantip Khazom, said the command has not received any complain where its personnel led such assignment.

Meanwhile the Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Hassan S. Yabnet, said the command was able to neutralise some mercenaries suspected to have come from Yankari Forest in Bauchi State to Kampani Zurak.

He stated: “Following the case of culpable homicide reported at Zurak village of Wase LGA where four persons were gruesomely killed and six injured on 10/03/2024 by gunmen suspected to have come from Yakari Forest in Bauchi State, police operatives attached to Bashar Division of the command led by the DPO, CSP Atiku Yahaya in collaboration with other security agencies and security help groups immediately stormed the forest to dislodge the bandits.

“On sighting the security operatives, the suspects engaged them in a fierce gun battle and attempted to escape to nearby Taraba State. However, due to our superior fire power, one Usare Madanfa, male, of Achali Forest was neutralised while other gang members fled with serious gunshot wounds. One AK47 rifle was recovered from the suspect.”

The police authority maintained that the operation was successfully carried out by their men without any casualty recorded on their side as normalcy has since been restored to the affected areas while joint patrol and intelligence gathering are being intensified.…READ FULL ARTICLE

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