Kankara church kidnap: Locals plan relocation from attacked community

The recent attack on a church in Kankara, Katsina State, and the alleged abduction of 25 worshipers by bandits last week Sunday, while one of the priests was injured, raised concerns about insecurity in the country’s north. Northern Bureau Chief, MUHAMMAD SABIU delved into the recent developments and found the need for communities to evolve local intelligence mechanisms to deal with the multifaceted security breaches.

For years now, Katsina State has been in the news because of the incessant attacks in surrounding villages. However, two years ago, the insecurity in the state reached a crescendo when, on December 11, 2020, over 300 students from the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara were abducted by bandits. For one week, the state, with the support of the Zamfara State Executive Governor, Bello Matawalle, the students were finally released.


How 25 worshippers were kidnapped

Kankara made headlines again last week Sunday when it was reported that bandits stormed Tsauni, Gidan Haruna village, and allegedly kidnapped 25 worshippers who were worshipping in a church. The abduction was made known by an official of the state government.

In a statement issued by the government, an official disclosed that hundreds of bandits on motorbikes stormed the community around 10 a.m. when the residents were in church. He said that the bandits, who were holding AK-47 rifles, created pandemonium in the church and subsequently abducted 25 worshippers.

Shedding more light on the attack, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Aminu Bello Masari on Christian Affairs, Rev. Ishaya Jurau, said, “The bandits attacked New Life for All Church in Jan-Tsauni, Gidan Haruna in Kankara local government of Katsina State today (Sunday) around 10 a.m.

“They abducted 25 worshippers and left the church pastor with injuries while they were conducting service this morning.

“The security agents are currently on top of the situation. They are working tirelessly to rescue the victims unharmed. We appreciate the efforts of the security.”

Only five worshippers were kidnapped – Police

However, reacting to the development, the police image maker of the state command, SP Gambo Isa said only five people were kidnapped.

In a statement issued by to newsmen on Sunday, he said, “around 15/01/2023 at about 0700hrs, a distress call was received that terrorists in their numbers, shooting sporadically with AK 47 rifles, invaded Dantsauni village, Kankara LGA of Katsina State.

According to the statement, “the bandits shot one pastor Haruna on his hand and kidnapped five women who were preparing to go to the church for Sunday service.

“The kidnapped victims are (1) Rabi Isyaku, F, aged 15yrs, (2) Rabi Saidu, F, aged 36yrs, (3) Rabi Babba, F, aged 49yrs, (4) Saratu Hadi, aged 27yrs, and (5) Nusaiba Shuaibu, aged 13yrs, all of Maitsauni village, Kankara LGA of Katsina state.

“Dpo Kankara led a team of policemen to the village, but before his arrival, the terrorists had already escaped with the victims.

“The injured pastor was evacuated to General Hospital, Kankara for treatment. Efforts are on with a view to arresting the hoodlums.”


Peace has eluded the community

With this development, it was gathered that peace has eluded the small community following the attack on the church. A resident of the area, who pleaded for anonymity in a telephone interview on Monday, contended that even though peace has returned to the area, the peaceful atmosphere enjoyed by the people is no longer there.

“Many people now live in fear of the unknown. We have not seen this kind of thing since I was born. Yes, we have been hearing of things like that but this experience has shocked us beyond imagination,” he had said.

A woman who gave her name as Mamam Abida also remarked that they have started thinking of relocating to another area, saying, “possibly we might even sell our house and relocate to another state.”


We are on top of the situation – Police

On the kidnapping of the worshippers, the state police command have insisted that they were on top of the situation. The police had equally said it would not relent in its efforts in providing adequate security to the people of the state. SP Gambo Isah, the police spokesman, admitted that they had raided many criminal hideouts in order to rescue the abducted people. He maintained that very soon the abductees will be set free.

According to him, “we are not going to disclose our tactics or strategies for obvious reasons.”

However, in a related development, he said in the course of searching for the abducted worshippers, they rescued the following victims: (1) Sa’idu Alhaji Iliya, aged 51 years, of Nasarawan Dankali village, Mahuta ward, Kafur LGA (2) Yusuf Umar, aged 31 years, and (3) Abdullahi Bello, aged 35 years, both of Bauchi state.

“One of the victims (Abdullahi Bello) sustained a gunshot wound and was rushed to the hospital for medical attention. Many of the terrorists were feared dead or fatally injured during the rescue operation.


Masari meets with heads of various security officials over attack

However, piqued by the recent church attack, the state governor, Aminu Masari, met with various heads of security agencies in the state. The governor had directed them to do everything humanly possible to ensure that the victims are rescued and reunited with their families, according to a statement issued by the Director General of New Media, Al-min Isa, and made available to the Nigerian Tribune.

It was gathered that the governor also directed the traditional and community leaders to provide the security agencies with information on criminal elements operating within their domains.


Additional 1,900 vigilantes recruited

Additional 1,900 vigilantes who have received full training have been recruited and deployed to high-risk security areas as part of efforts to bolster security in rural areas. It was also gathered that the state government, in collaboration with the security agencies, had adopted new measures to reinforce security in these areas.

According to Almin, the government will study the factors responsible for the recent attack with the view to doing everything possible to stop further attacks in the remote areas.

Meanwhile, it was gathered that the Christian community in these areas has resolved to develop their own native intelligence in order to cope with the present situation.

“We have our own native intelligence, inherited from our forefathers. But we have abandoned it. We are going to go back to it, refine it, and develop it,” one of the residents said.



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