Bandits again on Sunday struck in Kaduna State, killing one person and abducting four others when they attacked Haske Baptist Church in Mannai Tasha village in Kuriga ward of the Chikun Local Government Area of the state.
An eyewitness, Yakubu Bala, told one of our correspondents that the bandits invaded the church at 9am.
The attack has been condemned by groups including Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Middle Belt Forum and the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union.
SOKAPU, which lamented the high level of insecurity in the state, said in 2020, families in Southern Kaduna paid N1bn to free their abducted relatives.
The attack on the church was the fourth major assault by gunmen within a week in the state.
Recall that bandits on Tuesday night attacked the Greenfield University, along Kaduna-Abuja road killing a staff member and kidnapping 23 students.
Three of the students were killed on Friday and their corpses dumped close to the school.
SOKAPU on Friday said that 65 people were kidnapped at the Adara community in the Kajuru Local Government Area of the state, when gunmen attacked the area on Tuesday.
In the early hours of Thursday, gunmen attacked Idon General Hospital also in the Kajuru Local Government Area, and abducted two nurses.
Only 10 out of 39 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in the Afaka area of the state, who were abducted on March 11 have been released.
On Sunday, it was learnt that the attack on the Baptist church took place when the church was conducting a service.
The eyewitness, Bala, who spoke to The PUNCH, said, “Zakariah Dogo Yaro, a medical doctor with the Kaduna State Ministry of Health was shot dead.
“As I am talking to you now, we have not seen some of our villagers who ran into the bushes while the shootings were going on.”
But later on Sunday, the state police command confirmed the bandits’ attack.
The command’s Public Relations Officer, ASP Mohammed Jalige, who confirmed the attack, said that only four worshippers were abducted by the bandits during the attack.
The Police Spokesman said, “Today 25th April, 2021 at about 0900hrs the command received the unfortunate report of bandits’ invasion of Manini Tasha village of Kuriga ward in the Chikun LGA of Kaduna State.
“The report has it that the bandits in large numbers bearing dangerous weapons invaded the village and shot sporadically which resulted in people scampering for safety in different directions.
“Preliminary investigation conducted so far revealed that four persons are missing which arouse a suspicion that they might have been kidnapped by the hoodlums, while two others sustained gunshot wounds, namely Dr. Zakariya Doga Yaro, a member of staff of Kaduna State Ministry of Health attached to the Primary Healthcare Center in Rimi village in the Chikun LGA and Shehu Haruna. Unfortunately, Dr. Zakariya Yaro died on the spot while Shehu Haruna is currently receiving medical treatment.”
On its part, SOKAPU said Kaduna State under Governor Nasir El-Rufai was fast becoming a “paradise” of sort for bandits that kidnapped people on a daily basis.
It said families in Southern Kaduna last year paid roughly N1bn as ransoms to free their abducted relatives.
SOKAPU’s spokesman, Mr Luka Binniyat, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Kaduna, said, “Kaduna State is unarguably Nigeria’s kidnappers’ paradise. It is also the safest place for arsonists and violent land grabbers. There doesn’t seem to be any serious attempt at uprooting them, especially in Southern Kaduna.
“It is sad that only published kidnapped cases are given attention by the public, but they constitute just a fraction of that crime going on in the state.
“In our press statement of 23rd April, 2021, we affirmed that 65 Adara natives from Libere Gida, in Kallah ward and Kajuru ward were kidnapped last Tuesday night. 55 are still with the abductors after 10 managed to escape.
“The remaining 29 students of Federal School of Forestry, Afaka, Kaduna are still with their kidnappers for over 40 days now. They are now threatening to kill the males and marry off the girls if N500m ransom is not paid.
“Of course the kidnapped students of Greenfield University, Kasarami, in the Chikun LGA in Southern Kaduna are still hostages of their kidnappers after three of them were killed in cold blood. The murderers are asking for N800m in exchange for their freedom.”
He added, “Chikun ward in the Chikun LGA is virtually under the unchallenged control of the outlaws among other places.
“Last year alone, we made a conservative estimate of N1bn as the amount kidnapped Southern Kaduna families and friends paid to these cold blooded criminals.
“Kidnapping and related crimes continue unabated in Southern Kaduna because there are no consequences for the criminals whom surviving victims have always said are armed herdsmen.”
The state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria in its reaction also condemned the attack on the Haske Baptist Church.
The state chapter of CAN, through its Secretary, Rev. Caleb Maaji, expressed concern about the sorry state of the security situation in the country and in particular, Kaduna State.
It stated said, “Our hearts are saddened over the sorry state of security situation in our dear state (Kaduna State). It has grown so unfortunate and on a daily basis continues to grow worse with no appreciable resistance given the unholy terrorists who have continued to hold our dear state and nation to ransom.
“This is happening in a nation that her constitution allows freedom of religion yet this freedom is not guaranteed. CAN Kaduna State continues to wonder, what is the crime of innocent citizen?
“This is a challenge to government, indeed a government that is unable to guarantee the safety of her citizens and their properties will be best termed a failed government.”
Also, the Middle Belt Forum on Sunday lamented Nigeria’s security situation, saying that terrorists had taken over the country.
The National Publicity Secretary of the MBF, Dr Isuwa Dogo in an interview with The PUNCH, described the attack on the church as regrettable.
According to him, a situation where gunmen kidnap citizens in broad day light irrespective of where they are without resistance from any quarters speaks volumes of the seriousness of the current situation.
He further noted that the frequency with which the terrorists attacked Nigerians and thereafter demanded ransom which they used to fund their operations was the height of insecurity anywhere in the world.
The Pan Niger Delta Forum also condemned the attack on the church in Kaduna State.
National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson who stated this during a telephone interview one of our correspondents on Sunday said the series of unprovoked attacks and killings showed what had become of the country while the government.
Robinson stated, “It shows what the country has become and it is disturbing that we continue to condemn and react to these activities of bandits in the country. And the government sits comfortably.”
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on its part warned the Federal Government that if something urgent was not done to curb the level of violence across the country, there would be major catastrophe.
Ohanaeze spokesman Chief Alex Ogbonnia, who spoke to one of our correspondents, described the attack on the church as worrisome and called for urgent actions.
Ogbonnia stated, “Honestly, the rate of violence in Nigeria has raising to a tipping point; a tipping point where perhaps a major catastrophe will besiege the country. It is a thing for worry and of great concerns.”
The pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere lambasted the Federal Government, saying it had not been showing signs of seriousness to tackle the menace.
The group, which condemned the attack on a church in Kaduna State, through its Secretary-General, Bashorun Sehinde Arogbofa, said the government had been issuing empty threats to the criminals who had been unleashing terror on the country.