When armed bandits arrived Kucheri, a village in Tsafe local government of Zamfara state on July 6, Ibrahim Madawaki, the district head, was consulting with his people. It was just after the evening prayer. The intruders who came on motorcycles, announced their presence with sporadic shots.
A witness told TheCable that they placed members of their gang in three strategic directions – including the major road linking Gusau, capital of the state and Funtua in neighbouring Katsina state.
“After taking charge of the village, they asked for the district head. He came forward. They ordered him to mount one of the motorcycles and follow them but he refused. They insisted but he stood his ground, asking them what he did to deserve such,” a witness said.
“Having realised he would not give in to their demand, they hit him with a big stick. Then he said, ‘Even if you kill me, I beg you not to harm any of my subjects’.”
The attackers rained bullets on Madawaki till he stopped breathing but they they did not touch any of his subjects just like he pleaded with them some 30 minutes to his death.
A family member of the deceased who craved anonymity told TheCable that they shot Madawaki seven times – almost all on the head.
“They only left after realising that he was dead. They left the village on dozens of motorcycles shooting their way to the bush besides the village,” he said.
Madawaki, 63, left behind four wives and 34 children. People have been trooping to the palace of the late district head to condole with his family members.
Although bandits have been killing people in hundreds, the murder of the district head of Kucheri is a new dimension in the insecurity ravaging the state.
RESIDENTS LIVING IN FEAR
Since the killing of their leader, Kucheri people have been living in fear, not knowing when or how the next attack will happen.
“Since the killing of our ruler we have been living in fear. We all have sleepless nights always,” a resident said.
“We are helpless. There is no security. It was only after the killing of the district head that some policemen were posted here. And going by the heavy weapons we saw with the bandits and what we saw with the police our fear only increases.”
Across Kucheri village, people are still mourning the ruler they described as kind and devoted to their well-being. There is an air of resignation and ample signs of fear.
Across many villages afflicted, there is grave concern over inability of government to provide adequate security. Abdulaziz Yari, governor of the state, has since resigned as chief security officer of the state, lamenting difficulties in getting the best out of security personnel controlled by the federal government.
Many villages are without police presence. There is heavy military presence in the major towns and military patrols are frequent in some villages. But some villagers suspect the bandits are more sophisticated in terms of arms and planning.
A village head said the bandits always use informants who brief them about the movement of security personnel or happenings in villages. The informants are said to be lured with incentives, including money.
“They use jobless youths as informants. They give them a lot of money. Besides, you never know who is an informant and who is not,” he said.
When contacted to comment on the insecurity in the state, Shehu Muhammed, police public relations officer (PPRO) in Zamfara, asked TheCable to reach him later.