A local hunters’ group led by 70-year-old female spiritualist (name not stated) has killed 40 bandits in Zuguruma, Mashegu local government of Niger state, the group has claimed.
A local hunter identified as Mallam Alhassan, who was part of the operation, stated this while speaking to journalists on the ‘exploits’ of the hunters in the battle against banditry.
He said the team sporadically shot into the air to scare the bandits out of their hideouts in the Zuguruma forest, and allowed them to exhaust their bullets before descending on them.
“They (bandits) continued shooting without a particular target until their bullets finished. It was at that point the hunters now descended on them and killed 40 of them,” he said.
He also said several weapons, including machine gun, anti-aircraft gun and rocket launchers amongst others, were recovered and handed over to the police.
However, the state police command was yet to confirm this as at the time of filing this report.
The command said the operation was still on and that they would address the press at the end of the exercise.
Also, in a reply to a text message from our correspondent, the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr Adamu Usman, said he was in Awka, Anambra state for the police games.
It was learnt that the state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani-Bello had enlisted the spiritualists to assist the state in ridding the state of bandits few days ago, and that this was the first operation the septuagenarian would be leading into the forest.
It was also gathered that a commander of the bandits and three others who came into the town to buy recharge cards and other basic needs for the group were arrested and handed over to the state police command, and were currently helping the police for further investigations.
According to Alhassan, no single casualty was recorded on the side of the hunters, while an antelope that was trying to escape from the fireworks was killed by the hunters.
This ‘breakthrough’ in the fight against the bandits was coming barely one week after the state government declared a state-wide prayers in mosques and churches against the bandits.
Governor lauds move
Commenting on the new strategies, Governor Sani-Bello said local militia, community vigilante groups and local hunters must collaborate with security agencies in a renewed effort to engage and completely chase away kidnappers, cattle rustlers and armed bandits in the country.
A statement by the chief press secretary, Mrs Mary Noel Barje, quoted the governor as speaking Saturday at Zuru, Kebbi state, where he was special guest of honour at the civic reception organised by the Zuru Patriotic Forum.
He expressed joy over the success recorded by the efforts of the spiritualist and the hunters, saying a radical approach towards the bandits had become necessary
He said governors of the most affected states of Kebbi, Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger were in talks to perfect the new strategy in order to address the situation that has hindered development and deprived the people of their means of livelihood.
He said: “We must not allow them to send us out of our respective homes. We have to defend our territories and it has started in Niger and we have started recording success in that direction.”