On Feb. 14, the convoy of Ibrahim Balarabe Kagara, Niger State’s Chief of Staff, was attacked by terrorists. Although they failed to capture the CoS, 22 passengers were abducted on one of the Niger State Transportation Authority (NSTA) buses on the road at the time.
The midnight raids on the Government Science College, Kagara and Gurmana district almost at the same time have since confirmed that terror groups have extended their base to Niger State, Northcentral Nigeria. The two attacks were on Wednesday, Feb.17.
The Northeast region has been the Boko Haram terrorists’ stronghold until recently when they started daring attacks in the Northwest, particularly in Kaduna, Zamfara and Katsina states.
The abduction of over 300 schoolboys on Dec. 11, 2020, was the confirmation needed by Nigerians and the government that terrorists were fully operating in the region.
In Niger, according to an eyewitness, Kagara’s convoy was shot thrice, but the criminals missed the target.
At an accelerated speed, his convoy was said to have overtaken the NSTA bus, resulting in obstruction of the terrorists’ vehicle. As the CoS escaped, the terrorists settled for the bus, and all the passengers were abducted.
“Both the convoy and the circumcised bus were heading to Minna while the CoS was coming from Kagara for his APC membership revalidation. The kidnap victims were returning from a wedding occasion In Rijau,” said the eyewitness.
Two days after their abduction, the criminals released a video showing their sophisticated weapons, while the distraught victims were begging the state government and the people of Niger State to help secure their release.
“It’s N500 million they requested for, please help us,” the captives cried.
301 People Killed Between January 2020 – February 2021
A report by a Nigerian intelligence outfit, SBM Intelligence, has revealed that “no fewer than 301 people were killed in 73 various violent attacks on the state between Jan. 2020 and Feb. 2021.”
In late Dec. 2021, terrorists invaded Tassampa and Notuko villages in Minna, Niger state. They subsequently engaged the villagers in a tightrope negotiation for the ransom of one Mubaraq who was kidnapped during the attack.
Mubaraq is the son of Usman Mai Anguwa Notuko, District Head of Notuko village in Bosso Local Government of Niger State, Northcentral Nigeria.
A source in the village who did not want to be named for his safety told HumAngle that the terrorists had requested N5 million ransom but later pegged it to N3 million, including recharge cards.
About the same time, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulamid, the village head of Yakila in Rafi Local Government, was also abducted. His abductors demanded N15 million.
Sani Abubakar Yusuf Kokki, the co-convener of Concerned Shiroro Youths, while reacting to the constant attacks by terrorists in the state, acknowledged that the losses could not be quantified.
“In a nutshell, we have lost count as regards the number of casualties because some of the atrocities are unnoticed and therefore underreported,” Kokki said.
He stated that nearly all the local governments in the state have been attacked, listing the frequently attacked councils to include; Shiroro, Rafi, Munya, Mariga, Mashegu, Paikoro, Rijau, Borgu, Gurara, Lapai and Tafa.
When asked about the government’s efforts to stem the crisis, Kokki said, “hardly there’s an effort put in place by the authorities constitutionally saddled with the responsibility of maintaining security to repel these countless deadly attacks.”
“The state has become a safe haven for hydra-headed terrorists; that is why they carry out their atrocities at will and with crass impunity and gusto.”
“They usually carry out operations without slightest hindrance or confrontation, and that’s why the dreaded phenomenon has persisted.”
Terrorists Use Ransom, Residents’ Taxes To Strengthen Operations
Commenting on the fact that the terror gangs use the ransom to intensify their operation, Abubakar Sani Bello, the Governor of Niger State, while reacting to the recent attack on Government Science College, Kagara, said: “It’s not our policy as a government to pay bandits, as we have seen and noted that they use the same ransom to purchase arms and ammunition.”
On Jan.12, 2021, The Guardian reported how bandits levied N5 million monthly tax on communities under Shiroro Local Government to avoid attacks.
Findings by HumAngle have shown that the communities, after gathering their earnings, could only afford N3 million. Despite this, the terrorists have warned them of the consequences of not completing the tax.
The Feb. 2, 2021 attack on some villages under Shiroro Local Government Area, which led to the killing of 25 persons and abduction of 40 persons, resulted from their failure to respect the terrorists’ call for a negotiating forum, HumAngle learnt.
The meeting summoned by the terrorists was aimed at negotiating a fixed monthly levy on the communities to avert attacks on farmers who go to the farm to harvest their crops. This, many people believe, could be the reason for the thriving business of kidnapping in the region.