A 30-year-old widow, Hajiya Shafa’atu, has narrated how bandits attacked a vehicle she was travelling in on Monday at a location in Sabon Birni Local Government of Sokoto State and murdered her four children, mother and some relatives of hers.
Shafa’atu, who spoke to newsmen at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto, where she was being treated for the injuries she sustained during the attack, said she and the other passengers were on their way to Kaduna State when they came under heavy fire from the bandits.
According to the young widow, she was travelling with her four children, mother, immediate younger brother, a niece and a nephew when the incident happened on Sabon Birni-Isa Road.
Shafa’atu said there were about 33 elderly persons and many children in the vehicle when it ran into the bandits believed to be loyal to one Bello Turji believed to have been terrorising the eastern part of Sokoto State for some time now.
“They kept firing at our vehicle until it somersaulted three times and burst into flames. Only I and one other passenger miraculously came out of the bus; some other passengers later died of their gun wounds,” she stated.
She noted that eight of her family members, including her 10-month-old baby, were among the dead.
“I watched my mother, my maternal uncle, my nephew and my niece burn to ashes while the attackers observed delightedly,” she added.
She disclosed that she and her relatives were attempting to flee the area because of incessant attacks by bandits when the incident occurred.
The seriousness of Shafa’atu’s condition prevented her from speaking further to newsmen.
Her uncle who is looking after her in the hospital told newsmen that he participated in the burial of the victims of the attack.
“You need to see their remains which were brought in two ambulances. They were unrecognisable because they had been burnt to ashes.
“We performed the funeral rites and buried them according to the injunction of our religion,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, has condoled with the families of the victims, describing the incident as barbaric.
The governor said: “It is very disturbing that these kinds of things are happening here and across the nation. As those entrusted with the leadership of the people in this state, we are very worried and touched each time such incident happens.
“Nonetheless, we will not rest on our oars in doing the best we can to roll back this unfortunate problem.
“We have been doing our best to support the security operatives in the state. We have donated over 500 vehicles to all the security operatives in the state and trained about 1000 certified vigilante members.”
He said 500 motorcycles had also been donated to vigilante groups to ease their operations under the supervision of the security outfits.
Governor Tambuwal announced a personal donation of N250,000 to each of the families of the victims, just as he pledged his government’s willingness to pick the bills of those hospitalised.
He explained that his administration was poised to strengthen the operations of certified vigilante groups, contrary to statements credited to a serving senator that the state government had proscribed vigilante groups.
“What we voided were selfstyled vigilante groups, while we will, from the beginning of December, start paying verified vigilante members a N20,000 monthly stipend to encourage them,” Tambuwal said.
He urged all and sundry to jettison politics in the move “towards resolving this crisis.”