NIGER State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, confirmed on Monday that Boko Haram insurgents have hoisted their flag in Kaure village, in Erena township axis of Shiroro Local Government Area of the state, two hours drive from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The governor also said that the Boko Haram fighters forcefully snatched wives of some of the villagers and married them. There had been attacks on Niger communities of recent, which were attributed to bandits.
Governor Sani Bello made the revelation in Minna, when he paid an on-thespot assessment visit to the internally displaced persons (IDP) camp at Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) Primary School, near the palace of the Emir of Minna, Alhaji Umar Bahago, in Chanchaga Local Government Area of the state.
The primary school was hurriedly turned to IDP camp after about 5,000 residents were displaced from their ancestral homes by bandits in Shiroro and Sarkin Pawa, in the neighbouring Munya Local Government Area of the state, at the weekend.
The governor said: “I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements here in Niger State, here in Kaure. I am confirming that they have hoisted their flags here.
“The victims’ wives have been seized from them and forcefully attached to Boko Haram members. I just heard that they have hoisted their flags at Kaure, meaning that they have taken over the territory.
“This is what I have been engaging the Federal Government on, unfortunately, it has now got to this level, if care is not taken, even Abuja is not safe. We have been saying this for long, all our efforts have been in vain. With the latest unfortunate development, I hope the time has come for a more coordinated military activity to take place.”
Sani Bello claimed that the insurgent group is trying to use the area as a base, just as members of the group did in Sambisa. He, however, added that: “Sambisa is several kilometres away from Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, but Kaure is just about two hours drive from Abuja, it is not too far and nobody is safe anymore, not even those in Abuja.”
The governor said the fight against the insurgents is not for Niger State alone, adding that the government had made efforts to curb series of attacks by bandits in the state without much success.
On the huge number of displaced persons in the camp, Sani Bello announced that some of the IDPs are now returning home, adding, however, that some others are taking refuge with their relations in communities they consider safe havens.
“But the vast majority of them will have to remain here in the IDP camp because their villages and towns have been taken over by bandits,” he said.
Nigerian Tribune investigations showed that among the IDPs were about 1,447 children, 119 pregnant women and 447 other women, including nursing mothers.
Meanwhile, Governor Sani Bello has disclosed that no fewer than 50 villages in five local government areas of the state have been deserted due to banditry.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the governor made the disclosure on Monday in Minna, while opening a two-day training workshop for local government directors and revenue officers.
The governor said: “Presently, we have over 3,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) camping in Minna, aside the ones we have in local government areas. Where do we get the resources to take care of them?
“It is time we cut down on our expenditure, come together to see how we can address issues of ghost workers and those looting the state of its resources.”
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