Reports have emerged that the bandits who attacked a military post in Koton Koro, Mariga LGA of Niger state, killing one soldier, had met with Sheikh Abubakar Ahmad Gumi.
Naija News had earlier reported that the bandits on Wednesday night also ambushed and murdered 20 vigilantes in Koton koro village.
This is coming weeks after the state Governor, Abubakar Bello, promised to empower vigilante group in the state with high calibre weapons to enable them to fight against bandits.
The killings were confirmed by the commandant of the vigilantes in the local government, Abu Hashimu.
“The slain vigilantes were returning from a search operation when they were ambushed. 16 of them were killed on the spot while the bandits pursued four others who tried to escape and gunned them down also.”
The commandant disclosed that the bodies of the deceased have been recovered and buried, adding that a joint security operation consisting of military and vigilantes has begun a manhunt for the bandits.
But fresh reports have emerged that the attack was carried out by the Dogo Gide-led banditry group operating in Dutsen Magaji forest near Koton Kobo community.
Recall that Sheikh Gumi, Secretary to the Niger State Government, Alhaji Ahmed Matane and security operatives had in February met with Gide and his gang members few days after 42 persons, including students and staff members of Government Science College in Kagara were abducted.
“Contrary to media report, Gumi did not go to any forest between Tegina in Rafi LGA and Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State in February. He met with bandits operating in Dutsen Magaji forest near Koton Kobo community in Mariga LGA and their leader is Dogo Gide, a former deputy to notorious armed bandit in Zamfara state, Buhari Tsoho aka Buharin Daji. From Dutsen Magaji to Tegina is over 200km.
“Gide is so powerful in that area that he collects monthly taxes from farmers and herdsmen. The recent attack was also carried out by him. After killing them (vigilantes), he refused to grant access to pick their bodies until soldiers stormed the forest on Thursday to collect the bodies. About 25 bodies have been recovered so far,” a military source told SaharaReporters.
Vigilante groups have been formed across Niger to combat insecurity in the state.