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Fear grips Gonin Gora residents, days after bandits’ invasion

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  • ‘We sleep with eyes open, others flee’
  • We need weapons – Local vigilantes
  • We’re doing our best – Govt

Fear has gripped residents of Gonin Gora in Kakau ward of Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State after bandits invaded part of the community, killing two vigilantes and abducting about 10 others.

Daily Trust Saturday reported the incident on February 29, 2024 when angry residents, in their numbers, blocked the busy Kaduna-Abuja highway in protest over the incident.

The angry protesters, including women, adults and youths, stopped travellers plying the highway, forcing them to be stranded for hours.

It took the intervention of security agencies, including soldiers and the police, to force the protesters off the road to allow travellers access.

The angry youths were tear-gassed by security agencies to clear them off the road as some of them threw stones at the soldiers and policemen.

About 10 houses were invaded around 10:30pm that fateful night.

The bandits also set ablaze a vehicle belonging to soldiers that responded to a distress call near Ligari village during a shootout as the bandits attempted to flee the community with their victims.

It was not clear if any of the bandits were hit with a bullet during the gun battle with the soldiers, but some of the residents commended the quick response of the soldiers to the area.

Since the February 29, 2024 incident, the residents have not slept in peace due to fear of the bandits. Some people living at the outskirts of the community are said to have abandoned their houses.

It was also gathered that the 10 victims, among them, women, are still in captivity, almost 10 days after the incident.

It was also not clear if the attackers had reached out to the family members of those abducted.

A community leader in Gonin Gora, Yusuf Sarki, said even though soldiers patrolled the community regularly since the incident happened, most people are not sleeping with two eyes closed due to fear.

According to him, some residents at the outskirts of the community left their houses out of fear; hence the need for more deployment of soldiers around the Ligari village area, which shares boundaries with Gonin Gora. This, he said, would help protect the community and its environs.

“Ten people are still in captivity, among them, women and children. The bandits came from the Ligari route from the back to avoid being sighted by residents.

“As we speak, people are still in fear because even a few days ago, some residents started running helter-skelter, saying they sighted the bandits. We informed the soldiers and they responded immediately. The locals all came out, but they (bandits) didn’t show up,” he said.

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Our correspondent also discovered that since the last incident, residents and local vigilantes always come out to patrol the area at night so as not to be caught unawares.

Sarki said the solution to attacks by bandits could be addressed if soldiers were deployed to the Ligari axis to complement those camping at Agwa, Kidenden and those at the Aruwan Farm area.

He further explained that the February 29 invasion of the community was the third this year.

Another senior member of the Joint Task Force in the neighbouring community who doesn’t want to be named, also said they informed security agencies when they got the information that the bandits were sighted on motorcycles riding out of the bush on that fateful night.

He said the situation was terrible because those killed were their members who confronted the attackers in an effort to protect the community.

He explained how the two local vigilantes were killed, saying one of them was mercilessly beaten by the bandits before he was shot.

According to him, the second vigilante was shot in the leg around the Ligari area, but because there was no vehicle to rush him to the hospital, he bled to death.

“We don’t have operational vehicles and also lack sophisticated weapons. We need good pump-action guns to arm ourselves because we are not happy to see our members dead without doing anything much to help them,” he said.

He said if the government deployed soldiers around the Ligari area, it would be difficult for the bandits to penetrate to attack Gonin Gora and other communities.

“Ligari forest is dangerous, but if a soldiers’ camp is stationed around there, each time the bandits come out, soldiers from Kidenden will come, soldiers at Aruwan Farm will be there too, as well as our JTF members at Gonin Gora, Ligari, Leyi, Kumi, Koriko and Kawurna communities, and we will all rush there to engage the bandits.

He explained that a day after the incident, a woman and an adult found their way home, while the remaining captives are still there in the hands of their abductors.

He commended the soldiers for their quick response during the invasion that night, saying that they, alongside the local JTF members, confronted the bandits, which led to them setting soldiers’ vehicle near Ligari ablaze.

He urged the state government to emulate Zamfara and Katsina in the area of assisting and empowering the JTF and local vigilantes.

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He said that doing so would encourage the vigilantes and JTF members to confront the bandits anytime they try invading the area.

Residents flee

A resident of the area simply identified as Micah said people from Anguwar Auta, Government Land, and a community named New Nigeria, were fleeing their houses.

“Most of these people don’t sleep in their houses at night due to fear. They usually return to cook, bathe and change clothes in the morning, but at night they move to Gonin Gora town to sleep with friends or relatives,” he said.

He also mentioned that people who reside at Angwar Doma, adjacent the Gonin Gora area were among the people expressing fear.

But a resident who doesn’t want to be named said most of the residents of Gonin Gora, including those around the Federal Housing area, had nothing to fear. He, however, said those living at the outskirts around Rail and those around a place named Government Land were the people leaving due to fear.

“I know of families that left their houses around Rail and the Government Land area in Gonin Gora to rent houses in safer areas in town. It is true that people around there hardly sleep with eyes closed,” he said.

The Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs in the state, Samuel Aruwan, didn’t respond to a text message sent to him for an update on the situation in the community.

But it would be recalled that he (Aruwan) issued a statement shortly after leading other security chiefs in the state to the scene of the protest on the Kaduna-Abuja highway that the day of the attack.

He cautioned residents against taking laws into their hands, saying there was no justification for them to block the highway over the incident.

He stated that security agencies were doing their best to tackle the security situation in the state, saying they responded to the distress call against the bandits and succeeded in rescuing some of the abducted residents that night of February 29, 2024.

He also denied a report that security agencies did not respond to the distress call during the invasion.

 





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