At least 50 bodies of dead vigilante members have been recovered by soldiers and residents of Koton Kobo in the Mariga Local Government Area of Niger state, sources told SaharaReporters on Friday.
The vigilantes were said to be returning from a search operation when they were ambushed by the Dogo Gide-led banditry group operating in Dutsen Magaji forest near Koton Kobo community.
Recall that Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad 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 200 km.
“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 had told SaharaReporters earlier on Friday.
The source added that the gunmen also attacked a military post in the community, killing a soldier.
Speaking to SaharaReporters, a resident of the area said over 50 bodies have been recovered.
He said a reinforcement team sent to rescue men of the vigilante group that were abducted also ran into an ambush and were killed the same way their colleagues were massacred.
“As at this evening, we have recovered over 50 bodies, it’s so sad. A soldier was also killed,” he told SaharaReporters later on Friday.
Vigilante groups have been formed across Niger to combat insecurity in the state.
On February 17, 27 students, three staff members and 12 members of their families were abducted when gunmen stormed Government Science Secondary School in Kagara.
While one of the students, Benjamin Doma, who tried to escape was gunned down, a member of staff luckily broke loose from captivity.
The armed men were said to have invaded the school around 3 am.
The attackers were reportedly dressed in military uniforms in what looked like a premeditated attack.
The incident happened barely three days after 21 passengers heading to Minna, capital of Niger state, were abducted in broad daylight by gunmen.
The students were released after spending 10 days in captivity.