GUNMEN suspected to be members of Boko Haram struck late Friday night killing a pastor and 10 other persons in Sabon Garin Yamdula village, Madagali area of Adamawa State.
According to reports, the gunmen attacked the village, barely a week after suspected members of the Islamic sect attacked a Catholic church at Chakawa village of Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State and killed over 45 persons.
Confirming Friday’s night attack, the chairman Madagali Local Government Area, Mr Maina Ularamu, was said to have explained that the attackers had attempted to burn down the village, but were resisted by some youths and other local vigilantes who kept firing local guns to dispel them.
Mr Ularamu was reported to have confirmed the number of those who were killed.
According to him, “…they shot 10 persons and the resident pastor of EYN Church who was rushed to and later died in a hospital at Madagali town.”
Efforts made by Sunday Tribune to get details of how and where the attack was launched and if any of the gunmen suffered fatality or were injured were unsuccessful.
But the gunmen were said to have disappeared into the bush immediately they were repelled by the villagers.
Meanwhile, the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) has expressed shock and sadness at the renewed attacks in parts of Kaduna State by unknown gunmen, urging those behind the attacks to stop it immediately.
Chairman of the forum and Governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, on Saturday expressed the forum’s condolences to the families of the victims, especially the relations of the family of seven that was completely wiped out at Manyi Akuru village, a suburb of Manchok town in Kaura Local Government Area of the state.
In a press statement signed by Governor Aliyu’s Chief Press Secretary, Danladi Ndayebo, the forum commended Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and security agencies in the state whose quick intervention averted a reprisal.
The statement, however, called on security agencies to ensure that the perpetrators are caught and brought to justice, to prevent a reoccurrence, emphasising that a situation where criminals kill innocent citizens at will was unacceptable.
The governors prayed God to grant rest to the souls of the deceased and grant members of their families the fortitude to bear the loss.
In a related development, the United Nations (UN) had alerted authorities to the danger of starvation facing about 40,000 Nigerians who fled the rampaging Boko Haram insurgents to neighbouring Niger Republic.
This information is contained in a report released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, recently seen by Sunday Tribune.
Many Nigerians had had been fleeing Boko Haram violence in North-Eastern part of the country since early 2012, and most are sheltering with families of indigenes in neighbouring Niger Republic.
But the UN agency’s report noted that the aid response to such refugees and even the host families, thus far, has been patchy.
Government’s efforts to register the displaced have also been slow, and the refugees among them have yet to be given refugee status.
In the latest attacks on 26 January, suspected Boko Haram militants reportedly killed over 100 people in the villages of Kawuri and Waga Chakawa in Borno and Adamawa states, respectively.
On 18 January, over 500 people fled Ghashakar village in Borno State, crossing the Komadougou River to reach Gasseré in Niger, two kilometres away.
According to a senior field officer at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Kelli Moustaph, three children died during the crossing as they could not swim.
Reports had it that dozens of villagers corroborated the story, claiming that their houses were burnt while they were sleeping.
Residents told IRIN that ten people died in the incident, 40 shops were burnt and seven vehicles set on fire.
“We left without shoes, with nothing. We just took our children,” Fatimata Boura, who is in Gasseré with her family of 13, was quoted.
Men from Ghashakar told IRIN that their village was targeted because youths had set up a self-defence militia to try to defend themselves from the violence.
“Militia members have fled to elsewhere in Nigeria and Niger,” said Oumar Moustapha, a bush taxi driver whose vehicle was burnt in the attack.
Reports also said Gasseré households have each taken in a family, with occupancy in some homes swelling by dozens of people.
Wife of the village chief, Yakaka Kiari, said they had taken in 30 people, most of them children. “Most families are seriously overstretched in terms of space and, especially, food. With aid, we’ll be able to help more. Even if it’s crowded, we’ll try to get by,” she told IRIN.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), most of the displaced in Gasseré are of Kanuri stock, like their hosts, while 120 Hausa and Peulh households are sheltering in Garindogo, a site one and a half kilometres away.
The Kanuri live mainly in North-Eastern Nigeria, South-Eastern Niger, Western Chad and Northern Cameroon. They reportedly said they had been very warmly welcomed.
“It’s like being at home. We want to stay here,” said Falmatta Modou.
At an event where the UNHCR distributed kitchen kits, blankets, jerry cans and mats to 60 families, the mayor of the commune, Ousseini Boukar, told IRIN that “we are overwhelmed. Life is already very difficult for people here. So, it is very hard for families to feed 10 more people.”
Niger came last out of 186 countries on the UN’s 2013 Human Development Index, and the millet, wheat and maize harvest was poor for most people in Gasseré village. The rains came late and ended early, so plants were unable to mature. Those practicing ‘decrue’ or ‘recessional,’ farming on the banks of the river, who received seeds from the government, lost most of their crops when the river flooded twice.
It is now red pepper season, but insects known in Niger as ‘sauterraux,’ have ravaged dozens of hectares of the crop.
A local farmer, Chiarami Sanda, said many families in the village did not have more than a couple of weeks of stocks.
The attack took place two kilometres from the Komadougou River, which separates Niger and Nigeria.
“We have no emergency stocks at the government level,” said Mayor Boukar, adding that “we need outside help.”
A recently completed joint food security assessment by the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNHCR revealed that nutrition centres in the main sites sheltering displaced populations have higher rates of severe acute and moderate malnutrition than in May 2012, when the displaced started to arrive.
Gasseré’s student body has doubled from its previous total of 72 children, said school director Malam Mahmoudou Ousman.
Also, Kaselma Bouma, a chief of Gasseré village, said the hosts were struggling to find room for the displaced.
The insecurity has also taken an economic toll. Nigeriens and Nigerians regularly cross the river into each other’s countries to trade goods and access services. Now, this trade has been interrupted.