An attack in Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State has left at least 40 people dead.
Eyewitness, Bello Mohammed, told CURRENT NEWS NOW that about 5:00p.m, gunmen ambushed a truck conveying passengers and opened fire on them.
According to him, the bandits besieged the market at Birane village and started shooting sporadically at innocent people who were busy doing their business.
He further stated that the attack was not unconnected with the killing by security operatives of some bandits two weeks ago in the area.
The bandits had promised to retaliate.
He said security operatives comprising mobile police and the military had been deployed to the area for the protection of lives and property.
When contacted, Police Spokesman, DSP Muhammad Shehu, confirmed the incident, but claimed that it occurred as a result of an attack on the bandits by local hunters of the area who tried to stop the bandits from their intention of attacking the communities.
“When the community received a message by the bandits that they will soon attack them, no one informed security agencies but, unfortunately, the local hunters went to their hideout inside a nearby bush and confronted the bandits.
“I can authoritatively confirm that many local hunters died and majority of those who survived sustained serious injuries as a result of the encounter,” Shehu said.
He added that the command was yet to ascertain the exact number of those who lost their lives.
Since November 2016 there have been series of attacks by gunmen on villages in the state.
On November 7, gunmen suspected to be cattle rustlers stormed a mining site in Gidan Ardo village of Bindin district of Maru Local Government Area.
Witnesses in the area said the gunmen, numbering over 70, rode into the mining site at around 3p.m and shot anyone on sight, killing over 40 persons and injuring several others.
Another 40 people were kidnapped by gunmen in Maru Local Government Area of the state a day later, followed by the killing of at least 25 people in three communities the next day.
Why We Failed To Intervene In Farmers-Herdsmen Clashes—FG
Meanwhile, the Federal Government on Thursday made a clever attempt to extricate itself from the ongoing crisis between herdsmen and farmers in parts of the country by laying the blames on the Land Use Act.
It said constitutionally states have legal rights over lands, a development that has been hindering it from intervening in some of the reported communal crises, especially the farmers-herdsmen attacks.
However, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who is currently chairing an ad-hoc committee to resolve the farmers-herdsmen crisis is expected to lead a delegation to some of the troubled communities and states in the near future.
All these formed part of resolutions reached at the end of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting also chaired by the vice president.
Besides the military personnel already deployed to Benue State to quell the crisis, NEC resolved to expand the scope by sending more military personnel into the forest to flush out bandits allegedly perpetrating these crimes.
They also resolved to train agro-rangers who will be saddled with the responsibility of patrolling the bushes to mitigate the attacks.
Bauchi State Governor Mohammed Abubakar who briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, gave an update on the committees which the vice president as well as the Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, are chairing.
While giving a report on the VP’s committee, he said, “The Working Group noted the need for joint military-police operation to manage violent outbreak where required while also calling for more efficient intelligence gathering.
“The Working Group also calls for the use of the military force to flush out bandits whose activities have been linked to the clashes, and engagement with traditional leaders to foster peace in their communities.
“Working Group also noted that an Agro-Rangers Corps should be trained to provide security around ranches, livestock production centres and grazing routes.
“It noted that the land use laws and regulations invest the states with the power over land titles and use while the vice president added that the Federal Government will not impose on state governments. The Federal Governmwent will only share templates on best practices for the conduct of livestock production and business.
“The vice president also informed that the president has approved the formation of a committee to look into the issue of rebuilding affected communities and providing welfare and other facilities as may be considered appropriate. The president has asked that the vice president head such a committee”.
Abubakar also gave clues of a likely fuel price increase, but denied that it might take an automatic process.
He said an existing committee, which is the Committee on Probe of Revenues of Government Agencies, headed by Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwanbo, would henceforth inter-face with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) with a view to determining appropriate pricing for premium motor spirit.
According to Abubakar, the NNPC was currently overwhelmed with the situation in the country as other independent oil marketers have hands off the importation of fuel products.
He explained that the crisis have been worsened by the inter-play of exchange rate between the naira and dollar.
“The second issue that was discussed was the issue of the scarcity of petroleum product. The problem was addressed by the Group Managing Director of the NNPC. The issue is of course caused by an inter-play of the exchange rate of the naira and the dollar and the price of crude oil at the international market which affects the landing cost of refined products in Nigeria.
“In the process it makes the operation of the current price regime almost impossible without some measure of nil return for whoever is in the process. As at today, most of if not all independent marketers have stopped importing refined products into Nigeria.
“It is only the NNPC that has been doing it and the NNPC has been suffering a lot of setbacks. The highest amount of under-recovery. By under-recovery it means the inter-play between the landing cost of a litre of the PMS in Nigeria and the pump price of that product.
“If the product lands at N170 for example and you sell at N145, immediately you know that you have an under-recovery of about N25 for each liter of fuel.”