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    Boko Haram has taken territory in Niger, says governor

    Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello yesterday said Boko Haram had taken over Kaure axis in Shiroro Local Government Area in the state and hoisted their flag.

    Bello added that no fewer than 50 villages in five local governments had been deserted due to bandits’ attacks, while over 3,000 persons have been displaced.

    He spoke during a visit to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp at IBB Primary School in Minna.

    The IDPs from Kuchi, Kabula, Kazai Guni, Gini, Fuka Dan Daudu and Chiri in Munya and Shiroro LGAs are taking refuge in the camp.

    Bello said: “I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements around Kaure in Shiroro local government of Niger State. They have taken over the territory. They have installed their flag. I am confirming to you that Boko Haram terrorists/ bandits have taken over some of the wives in the communities and attached them to the Boko Haram Chiefs…

    “The implication of that is that the territory now belongs to them,” he added.

    The governor said action must be taken to dislodge the insurgents otherwise “with the way things are going, not even Abuja is safe.”

    “We have been saying this and no action has been taken, the Boko Haram elements are trying to see this place as their home, just like they did in Sambisa.

    “Kauri is less than two hours’ drive to Abuja, nobody is safe not even Abuja,” he said.

    According to the governor, he had engaged the Federal Government several times, but no action was taken to address the insecurity challenges bedevilling the state.

    He expressed optimism that the resurgence of banditry would lead to coordinated military action “to confront the severe and very serious situation.”

    He directed the IDPs who abandoned their communities out of fear to return to their homes, while those who were attacked should remain in the camp.

    The governor gave details of the 3,000 IDPs while opening a two-day training workshop for local government directors and revenue officers in Minna.

    He said: “As we speak we have not less than 50 villages deserted across five local governments now. Where do we get the resources to take care of them if 80 per cent of our resources go to those that do not add value to the system?

    “Now we have to deal with humanitarian problems and security problems. All these require resources that we do not have. So the only way we can survive is to increase our IGR.

    “At the moment we have over 3,000 IDPs in Minna, apart from other local governments”, he said.

    The Nation observed a lot of vehicles with people entering the state capital.

    It was learnt that they were migrating from Fuka and Gunu communities that were affected by banditry over the weekend.

    When The Nation visited Munya LGA over the weekend, it observed a lot of people moving into the local government headquarters, Sarkin Pawa with their properties on motorcycles and pick up vans.

    Some of them told The Nation that they were moving to Minna because Sarkin Pawa is a time bomb waiting to explode and they did not want to be around when the bandits would invade the local government headquarters.

    It was also gathered that the schools in Munya and Shiroro being used as IDP camps were overcrowded.

    At the camp, there are 1447 children, 119 pregnant women and 447 other women.

    One of the youth leaders who spoke during the Governor’s visit, Bulus Esu said that the terrorists had taken over Kuchi community in Munya.

    “For three weeks now no person is living in Kuchi town and there is no food for the fleeing villagers. The bandits have entered very deep into the area and have overrun several villages. They have occupied Kuchi where they now sleep as their homes”.

    One of the IDPs, Mr Bulus Yusuf, from Kuchi in Munya LGA, said communities around Kuchi had witnessed several attacks and abduction of their women, with the whereabouts of many still unknown.

    “These bandits attack us, take away all our belongings including our women. Some of our women were raped and abducted and we had to pay ransoms amounting to millions for their release,” he said.

    He called on the Federal and state governments to deploy a strong military presence to the area to dislodge the insurgents so that they could return home.

    Another victim, Mary Dauda, also said the bandits had invaded their community on several occasions.

    “At first, when they came, we thought they will not come back, but the attacks became a daily affair which forced us to run for our lives,” she said.

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