Statistics confirm that armed banditry kills more people than Covid-19 in Nigeria, as armed criminals on motorcycles killed tens of people in a series of attacks on villages in the volatile Northwest of Nigeria.
So far, unrest and armed banditry have killed about 8,000 people since 2011 and displaced 200,000 in Northwest, Nigeria.
There was no immediate official comment from police but security sources said there would be a press conference later Thursday.
The report confirmed by medics and indigenes states that a gang of gunmen (bandits) raided five villages close to the border with Niger in Sokoto state late Wednesday. “People fled in all directions and were pursued by the attackers. So, the corpses were scattered.”
Medical officers at the nearby hospital revealed they initially received 60 corpses with gunshot wounds as the attack begun.
A local traditional leader in Sabon Birni district, Lawal Kakale said the death toll had risen to 74 from an earlier figure of 60 as more bodies were recovered in the villages. An alternative local report said over 100 people have lost their lives in the attack.
He told AFP that: “We recovered 25 corpses in Garki, 13 in Dan Aduwa, 25 in Kuzari, seven in Katuma and four in Masawa. All the bodies had bullet wounds, most of them were shot in the head,” a medic said on condition of anonymity”.
Regional governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said the attack came as a “rude shock” as calmness had been restored before this recent attack.
Northwestern Nigeria is known for cruel violence and killings involving clashes between rival communities over land and attacks by heavily-armed criminal gangs, and reprisal killings by vigilante groups.
The new and enduring crime-craft in the area is cattle-rustling and kidnapping for ransom.
Sabon Birni district, 175 kilometres (110 miles) from the state capital Sokoto, has in recent times been repeatedly attacked by armed gangs.
On Monday 18 people were killed when gunmen raided five other villages in Sabon Birni district, local officials said.
Perhaps if federal and state governments in Nigeria have responded to armed banditry the way they did to fight Covid-19, the crass menace may have been nipped in the bud.