Tinubu warns against error bombings as bandits kill 29 in Kaduna, Yobe, Katsina

President Bola Tinubu, on Friday, vowed that people sabotaging the efforts of the Nigerian military from within and without would be “aggressively uprooted” and exposed.

He also warned the military and intelligence community against recurring incidents of accidental strikes on innocent civilians, saying such “errors” were “unacceptable.”

This is coming as terrorists have resumed their deadly attacks on innocent Nigerians and leaving in their wake sorrow, tears and blood less than a week into the New Year.

In Yobe State, suspected Boko Haram insurgents in the early hours of Friday stormed the Unguwar Kori Ward, Geidam Local Government Area, and killed six persons, while scores of residents sustained varying degrees of injury.

Also on Friday, no fewer than six traders lost their lives when their vehicles ran into bandits in the Danmusa Local Government Area of Katsina State.

A middle-aged man, who led policemen to foil the kidnapping of seven family members, was shot dead by the bandits in the Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory on Wednesday. Two policemen sustained bullet wounds in the operation with family members abducted by the bandits.

In Kaduna State, 17 people were killed, while 58 were feared kidnapped after gunmen invaded three communities in the Dawaki Ward, Kauru Local Government Area on Tuesday night in an operation that residents claimed lasted about six hours.

On Christmas Eve, terrorists invaded some villages in the Barkin Ladi, Mangu and Bokkos local government areas of Plateau State and murdered over 150 persons.

Tinubu warns military

“All malign actors will be aggressively uprooted from our midst. Those working against the national agenda from within and without will meet justice,” Tinubu told security chiefs and heads of intelligence agencies at a presidential security briefing at the State House, Abuja.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, disclosed this in a statement on Friday titled, ‘President Tinubu to security chiefs: You are making good progress, but there must be a conclusive victory’.

Tinubu said while good progress was being made in eliminating some security threats across multiple theatres, success would ultimately be defined by a conclusion to the multi-dimensional menace.

Therefore, he asked security chiefs to ensure conclusive victory against the security threats assailing the country, warning that failure was not an option as it could thwart plans to make Nigeria a $1tn economy.

The President stated, “We have too many investments that we need to make now in soft and physical infrastructure, in social security, in MSME empowerment, and other growth enablers.

“We are pursuing a $1tn economy in the next few years, and our efforts will be undermined if we do not finally wrap up our progressive onslaught against enemies of progress.

“Be encouraged. The confidence of our people in your capacity is rising, and they are appreciative of the sacrifices of our men and women.”

He cheered the military helmsmen for the successes so far recorded, saying it was not yet Uhuru until the enemies of the state were vanquished.

Tinubu also warned the military against recurrent strikes on innocent civilians, adding that such errors would not be tolerated.

At least 95 persons lost their lives in the mistaken bombing of civilians in Tudun Biri, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, by the Nigerian Army on December 3, 2023.

Responding to the incident, the President, who was attending the COP28 Climate Change Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, directed “a thorough and full-fledged investigation” into this and similar incidents that had claimed 386 lives since 2014.

Speaking on Friday, the President told the military chiefs, “The success you are recording is undeniable. Nigerians are seeing it, but the avoidable errors witnessed recently in Kaduna are unacceptable and cannot be repeated.

“I am pleased that coordination between all agencies has dramatically improved over recent months, but there is no room for celebration until we can end this, until we can bring our troops back to their own localities, and until we can free up resources for our critical economic expansion programme.”

Tinubu stressed that the armed forces must deliver on his administration’s objective to ensure that the nation achieved sustainable production of two million barrels of crude oil per day, including condensates, within the first quarter of 2024.

He warned, “I do not play with my intelligence reports. I have multiple lines of sight. The navy and sister branches must step up their game to achieve our aims for the benefit of all Nigerians.

“Your task is clear. We will sustain our momentum. Failure is not an option under my leadership.”

The President also commended the Commander of the Presidential Air fleet, the Commander of the Brigade of Guards, and his Chief Personal Security Officer for their dedication and commitment to their assignments, which earned them a promotion.

He said he was very impressed by the “loyalty and dedication to duty” of the promoted officers.

Earlier, Tinubu had decorated three promoted officers with new ranks. He was assisted by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar; the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja; and the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, in the presence of the spouses of the elevated officers.

The promoted officers include the PAF Commander, Air Commodore Olayinka Oyesola, who is now an Air Vice Marshal in the Nigerian Air Force; Commander, BoG, Adebisi Onasanya, who has been promoted from Colonel to the rank of Brigadier-General; and the Police CPSO, Usman Shugaba, who is now a Deputy Commissioner of Police after being promoted from his prior rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police.

B’Haram Yobe attack

The six persons killed by Boko Haram insurgents in the early hours of Friday, according to reliable sources, comprised the community’s COCIN Church pastor, four civilians and one local vigilante. However, some residents said the exact number of casualties could not be ascertained as of Friday afternoon.

“The insurgents stormed the ward (Unguwar Kori) about two hours before the dawn prayer, I think around 3am, and started shooting indiscriminately and setting shops and houses ablaze,” a resident of the community, who did not want to be identified, told Saturday PUNCH on the telephone.

Another resident, who gave his name simply as Idris, said, “They killed the church pastor, slaughtered two persons, and shot two others to death, while the local vigilante met his death when he stepped on an explosive suspected to have been planted by the insurgents while lending a helping hand in dousing the fire razing houses and shops.

“We could not determine the exact number of casualties as of noon on Friday, but security agents have been deployed to the scene to restore normalcy in the community.”

Confirming the killing of the COCIN pastor, the Yobe State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Bishop Yohanna Audu, said, “The terrorists stormed the house of the COCIN pastor and killed him and a few other church members; we are still gathering more information.”

Another resident, Babagana Aisami, also confirmed the killing of at least six persons, including the pastor and an aged school teacher by the terrorists, who also attacked a youth recreation centre, brothels and some pubs.

Musa Inuwa, who also resides in the community, said, “The severely frightened and traumatised residents of communities surrounding Unguwar Kori are already fleeing their homes and fleeing to Geidam town and other safe locations.”

The Yobe State Police Command spokesman, DSP Dungus Abdulkarim, confirmed the attack, but could not give the exact number of casualties, saying, “The military has not determined that yet.”

Katsina traders murdered

No fewer than six traders lost their lives on Friday when their convoy of vehicles ran into bandits in the Danmusa Local Government Area of Katsina State.

The traders were travelling from Maidabino village to Yantumaki to sell their goods.

Residents revealed that the traders always travel in convoys because of the security situation in the council area.

It was further learnt that the convoy of vehicles conveying the traders ran into the bandits shortly before Yantumaki.

Residents added that the bandits suddenly appeared from a forest and started firing at the vehicles.

One of the residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “It was early in the morning and the traders were close to Yantumaki when the bandits appeared from a forest and occupied the highway.

“The bandits were just shooting at the vehicles in the convoy. By the time the security operatives, including military troops and the police, moved to the scene, six traders had been killed.

“We are yet to know if the bandits abducted any of the traders.”

When contacted, the spokesman for the Katsina State Police Command, ASP Abubakar Aliyu, confirmed the incident, adding that he had yet to get the details.

“The incident occurred but I don’t have details yet, you can call me back later for details,” he said.

Kaduna communities attacked

At least 17 people were killed and 58 kidnapped when gunmen invaded three communities in the Dawaki Ward, Kauru Local Government Area of Kaduna State, on Tuesday night.

A former councillor in the ward, Aminu Khalid, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with Saturday PUNCH.

The affected villages are Ungwan Sako, Kunkurai and Dokan Kaji.

Khalid explained that some of the locals were able to rescue 20 villagers in a gun duel with the terrorist, but nine villagers were killed in the process.

He said 34 of the residents were still in the custody of the terrorists, who had yet to establish contact with the families of the abducted victims.

He lamented the constant attack on the communities by terrorists and called for military intervention.

Khalid stated, “The terrorists invaded these communities on foot and took vantage positions at the same time.

“The terrorists always come from parts of the Kajuru and Kachia forests, where their camp is; the camp is situated at Dutsen Magunguna in the Kajuru Local Government Area of the state.

“Except the Nigerian military raids the terrorists’ camp, communities situated around it may never experience peace.”

The Kaduna State Governor, Senator Uba Sani, confirmed the terrorists’ attack on three communities in the Kaura Local Government Area of the state in which seven locals were killed and 58 abducted.

Sani said in a post on his Facebook page, “We have received information from security forces that a band of bandits attacked Dokan Karji general area of Kauru LGA and other locations in Gefe general area of Kajuru LGA. In these locations, lives were lost, some citizens were kidnapped and others injured in the unfortunate attacks.

“We condemn in the strongest terms these acts of savagery. The perpetrators of these heinous crimes have no place in a civilised society like ours. We shall go to any length to hunt them down and bring them to justice.

“The sole aim of these beasts in human skin is to reverse the gains the good people of Kaduna State have made in rebuilding trust, forging understanding and reviving the economies of conflict challenged communities. Our resolve to put Kaduna State on the path to sustainable peace and development is unshakeable. No amount of evil machinations will deter us.

“ThezMinistry of Internal Security and Home Affairs have been working with the security forces towards containing the evil forces that left a trail of blood, tears and pains in these locations.”

The governor added, “The relevant state government agencies have been detailed to visit the affected communities, assess the extent of damages and advice the government on what should be done immediately to bring relief to the families of the victims and the communities.

“The government sends its deep condolences to the families that lost their loved ones. We wish the injured speedy recovery.

“Similarly, the Overseeing Commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, has met with the critical stakeholders from Bishini general area of Kachia LGA following bandit attacks along the Kaduna-Niger interstate boundary. Issues highlighted have been noted to form part of the ongoing action in the anti-banditry campaign.”

However, the state police command denied the incident.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, ASP Mansir Hassan, said the command had made several contacts in the said communities but could not confirm the incident.

“It is not true; there was nothing like that because we have made contacts in the affected communities; there was nothing like that,” he said.

 Abuja killing, abduction

Two policemen sustained bullet injuries, while seven family members were abducted by bandits in the Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory.

Saturday PUNCH gathered that a middle-aged man, simply identified as Alhaji, who led policemen to foil the kidnapping of the seven family members, was shot dead by the bandits.

Alhaji was said to be leading a team of policemen to the house when one of the bandits hiding in a corner shot him dead.

It was learnt that the policemen exchanged gunfire with the bandits, with two of the cops sustaining gunshot wounds during the face-off.

A resident of Bwari, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone on Friday, said the incident happened in the early hours of Wednesday when the bandits invaded the Zuma 1 area in the Bwari Central Ward of the council.

He added that the bandits positioned themselves at strategic positions after identifying the victims’ home, adding that the victims upon hearing strange sounds and noticing movements in the vicinity contacted their relative, Alhaji, who informed the police about the development.

There has been a rise in bandits’ attacks in the nation’s capital city in recent times, resulting in the abduction of many residents.

Residents also revealed that bandits in the early hours of Tuesday invaded Barangoni, also in Bwari Central Ward, and abducted three persons and injured a vigilante.

Speaking about Wednesday’s incident, a resident said, “It was when the owner of the house heard strange sounds and noticed suspicious movements around his house that he called his brother, who is popularly known as Alhaji, to alert the police.

“The bandits eventually succeeded in whisking away the man and six of his family members. The distance from the victims’ house to where the police engaged the bandits was far, and two policemen were shot and sustained serious injuries.

“The truth is that the Bwari area council is under siege because, for the past two weeks, bandits have been moving from one community to another killing and abducting people. Unfortunately, the family head’s brother, Alhaji, was shot dead during the shootout.”

When contacted on Friday, the spokesperson for the FCT Police Command, SP Josephine Adeh, did not take her calls and had yet to reply to text messages sent to her by one of our correspondents.

MBF accuses military

The President of the Middle Belt Forum, Bitrus Pogu, said that security forces were aware of the whereabouts of the gunmen terrorising the region.

In a telephone conversation with Saturday PUNCH, Pogu said the locations of the terrorists were known to the security operatives.

He said, “After the killing of the people in Plateau State, we said since there are some ungoverned areas that these people occupy and they are known to the security forces, the places are left for them to the extent that they collect tolls on the roads.

“We mentioned the Mandara hills, Alagarno and Mahanga, the forest between Nasarawa State and Plateau State. We mentioned three of these. Then we clearly said the government and the security forces are accomplices.”

Pogu advised the government to take necessary steps to find a solution to the insecurity issues in the nation, adding that failure to do so could lead to resistance by the masses.

“This government needs to step up its action and clear these people so that we can have peace in this country. Or else, there will be an uprising, and the government will regret it,” he added.

However, the Defence Headquarters denied the allegation by the MBF.

In a terse response to one of our correspondents, the Director, Media Operations, DHQ, Maj. Gen. Edward Buba, said the allegation was not true.

“The allegation is untrue,” he simply stated.

 43 terrorists killed

The DHQ had stated earlier on Friday that troops killed 43 terrorists and arrested 115 during operations conducted in the first week of the year.

It assured Nigerians that it would defeat terrorists and bandits perpetrating evil in the country.

From January to December 2023, troops killed a total of 6,886 terrorists and other suspected criminals, while a total of 6,970 terrorists and other suspects were arrested in the same period.

Buba said in a statement that troops recovered 87 assorted weapons and 666 assorted pieces of ammunition from the bandits.

He added that troops also arrested 17 oil thieves and recovered stolen crude oil worth N159m.

The statement read in part, “During the week in focus, troops conducted ambushes, raids, fighting patrols and other forms of offensives against the terrorists. These offensive actions resulted in 43 neutralised terrorists and 115 arrests. Troops recovered 87 assorted weapons and 666 pieces of assorted ammunition.

“Furthermore, troops arrested 17 perpetrators of oil theft and rescued 39 kidnapped hostages. In the South-South, troops denied oil theft of the estimated sum of N159,652,620.00 only.

“The breakdown of weapons and other items recovered are as follows: 11 AK-47 rifles, one FN rifle, two pump action guns, eight locally-fabricated guns, 11 Dane guns, two locally-fabricated pistols, one Mccarroll pistol, one Beretta pistol, one fabricated SMG, one locally-made mortar with one empty bomb, four IEDs, 17 rounds of 7.62mm NATO, 592 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, four rounds of 7.5mm ammo, one round of 9mm ammo and 36 live cartridges.”

Additional reports by Abiodun Sanusi, Solomon Odeniyi, Muhammed Lawal, Olaide Oyelude and Godwin Isenyo.