It was midnight Saturday, November 14. Some youths, armed with machetes and gora and other weapons stormed the Kofar Dumi area of Bauchi. They are called ‘yan sara-suka because they slash and stab. Some said they were in their dozens. The police said they were about 20. Their target was the office of the local vigilante group, or ‘Yan Komiti’ as they are popularly called.
The thugs torched the office. They burnt down the vigilante’s patrol van and a hearse belonging to the Juma’at Mosque of Kofar Dumi. They slashed and stabbed and left nine people injured. One of them was a two-year-old baby.
The attacks were premeditated. An act of revenge for the arrest of some of the thugs and the death of one of their leaders, reportedly beaten to death by the vigilantes.
Abdulrahman Salisu Garba, State Secretary of the Bauchi State Peace and Security Committee, known as Yan-Komiti said the thugs who attacked their office numbered up to a hundred.
“Some unidentified hoodlums numbering about 100 organized and launched their heinous act on 14/11/2020 around 1 am starting from Zango by Federal Low-Cost area and went straight to our Ward office in Kofar Dumi, burnt all the office equipment, a motorcycle and later identified houses of leaders of the vigilante with the intent to kill [them] and destroy their homes,” he said.
Six of those injured were members of the vigilante. Three others were private citizens.
One of them was Kabiru Adamu. His face was slashed open with a machete.
“I woke up around 1 am to ease myself in the toilet and on my way, I saw men inside our house with torch lights and one of them shouted at me and asked, are you member of the Yan-Komiti?’,” he said. “I replied no and before I knew it, he had launched his machete at my face.”
In the dark, Adamu did not know what had struck him until he felt blood gushing. He screamed for help and his brother came to his rescue. But he too fell into the hands of the thugs.
“One of the criminals grabbed his shirt and asked him if he was a member of Yan-Komiti, he told them no vigilante was living in the house and he only wanted to take me to the hospital,” Adamu said.
On the way to the hospital, Adamu and his brother were chased back by another group of thugs.
“They followed us, insisting that they would kill me and my brother. It was my elderly aunt who locked me inside her parlour. Before they left our area, I had already lost a lot of blood,” Adamu said.
One of the injured vigilante members is Suleiman Bala. He was in his bedroom when the thugs broke in, “hitting me from different angles, shouting that today is the end of my life.”
Despite sustaining cuts, he fought off the gang and chased them out of the house.
“One of them whistled and another group joined them and seeing that I ran towards my elder brother’s house for my safety, unfortunately, before reaching the area, the criminals descended on me with different weapons,” he said.
They broke into his house and ceased his two-year-old baby from his mother.
“They said since I fought them, they would take away the baby and slaughter him in retaliation. The mother followed them, begging them to spare him. After a while, they threw the baby on the floor and one of the criminals stoned him on his back,” he said.
Both he and the baby were rushed to a hospital and they are both now in stable condition.
Salisu Sani was at the vigilante office that Saturday when the thugs attacked. When he first heard the thugs arriving, he thought they were other members of the vigilante returning from night patrol until he looked closer.
“I realized it was strangers saying let’s burn down the office,” he said.
He hid in the chairman’s office and called his superiors while the thugs were trying to break down the door. Then they asked him to open it or they would burn down the building with him in it.
“I declined and instead jumped into the ceiling and when they broke the door, they asked me to come down. They began pouring fuel everywhere in the office including the ceiling with the intent to kill me inside,” he said.
However, the first victim of the thug’s rage was Salisu’s motorcycle, parked in a corner of the office. They set it ablaze. With smoke billowing, the thugs stepped out and locked the door.
“I tried to escape through the roof but they started stoning me. I changed directions but the fire had already licked the roof and it collapsed along with me into the fire below, which burnt my hand. While struggling to escape the fire, they moved to the next house behind our office and I broke a window and ran away,” Sani said.
After torching the office, the thugs went on a house-by-house hunt for vigilante members. They broke into Babangida Usman’s house, broke his limb and left him with several cuts. He was not a member of the vigilante. Neither was Mukhtar Hassan, who was sleeping along side his brother when the thugs broke into their room.
“I just saw a torchlight directly on my face and I woke up to ask them but they were shouting, are you members of Yan-Komiti? I said, no. They then asked me to follow the window to escape but unfortunately, after I followed the window, another member of the hoodlums launched his machete at my jaw. When they saw me lying in a pool of blood, they left me there,” he said.
“We did not envisage this kind attack, and well-orchestrated tracking of our members’ house to house to assassinate them,” State Chairman of Yan-Komiti, Alhaji Sani Yakubu, said. “Our responsibility is to support and complement security operatives to maintain peace and order in the society but what transpired now is an indication that Yan-Komiti are working and the [thugs] have returned to their commitment to intimidate and push us out of the system. They have demonstrated their anger against our patrol vehicle.”
The state Deputy Governor, Baba Tela, had visited the area and commiserated with the vigilantes over the incident. He assured that the government will support their efforts, adding that investigation would be carried out to arrest the perpetrators of the attack.
Sami appreciated the gesture of the government.
“We are happy when the State Deputy Governor, Senator Baba Tela visited the hospital.After footing the medical bills, he also donated N50,000 to each victim,” he said. “This attack will not deter us, rather, the incident would spur us to get rid of criminals in our society.
The Bauchi State Police Command has since arrested 19 suspects in connection with the attack, according to the command’s Public Relation Officer, DSP Ahmed Mohammed Wakil.
He said the arrests were executed during a series of raids at various hideouts of the suspects. Plans are on the way to charge them to court, after investigations.