Police give more details on strange Sokoto group, say they’re ‘Malians’
The police said Saturday they have learned more about the reported influx of armed persons into Sokoto state.
The force, again, denied claims that a suspected terror group had taken control of a local government in the state.
The public relations officer of the command, Cordelia Nwawe, told journalists on Saturday in Sokoto that police have determined that the people seen in Sokoto state were “Malian herders”.
She said the group was “nonviolent”, but said they arrived with an “exponentially” higher number of cattle than they usually come to the state with in past years.
She said, “Our attention was drown toward a report that some unknown herdsmen were sighted in Gudu and Tangaza local government called Jahadists fully armed to destroy the peace in the area.
“The situation was misreported based on our intelligence report.
“The herdsmen sighted are reasonably believed to be Malians who reside in a forest in Niger Republic, sharing border with Gudu and Tangaza local government areas of the state.
“The herdsmen are annual visitors to the nearby forest bordering the two local governments with their cattle and always stayed in the forest in Niger Republic.
“Even though the number of their cattle increased exponentially this year to about 3,000 from the usual figures of less than 1000, it was discovered that they are not known to be violent.
“Moreover, they occasionally enter the villages in the two local governments to procure food and other essentials and retire back to the forest,” Mrs Nwawe said.
She called on the people living in the areas to remain calm and go on their normal business, assuring that police were always there to protect their lives and properties.
The spokesperson added that the situation of the areas remained peaceful and enjoined the people to always assist police with useful information that could lead to the success of the command in the state.
We earlier reported complaints by locals that a strange armed group from neighbouring Niger Republic was operating in parts of Tangaza Local Government Area of the Sokoto State, carrying arms and demaning levies from residents.
The police on Friday downplayed the complaints by residents of the border community.
Speaking on Friday evening, Mrs Nwawe told PREMIUM TIMES that the state police commissioner, Murtala Mani, and his deputy in charge of operations, Baba Isa, went to Tangaza on Friday to attend to the situation.
“There’s nothing like armed bandits, there is no need for people to be scared. The commissioner of police and his deputy in charge of operations went and saved the situation,” Mrs Nwawe said.
“There’s no need for people to be apprehensive because whatever happened to Niger Republic has nothing to do with Nigeria. Those people are not operating in Nigeria but Niger Republic. Tangaza is a boundary community, despite people alleged that they saw strange people in the area with their camels, donkeys and wives, it is not in Nigeria.
“But we’re not taking anything lightly because we have mobilised more conventional policemen to make sure the people did not infiltrate into Nigeria,” Mrs Nwawe said.
She said the police were doing their job in Sokoto State but could not go into another country to arrest criminals.
“If someone commits a crime and ran to Niger Republic, we liaise with the authorities to bring back the suspect here, especially when the crime was committed on Nigerian territory,” said the police spokesperson.