The stillness of the night in Ringim, Jigawa State was shattered by the booming sounds of gunfire. A town, where a former Inspector General of Police (IG), Hafiz Ringim, hails from, was under attack by gunmen whose mission was yet to be identified. Some claimed they were robbers. Others suspected they might be members of Boko Haram who have made life in neighbouring Kano State a living hell. Residents, thrown into panic, fled in all directions in a bid to avoid being mowed down in the hail of bullets.
Monday, a day after the attack, the people and security agencies began to count the cost of the attack.
For residents of this Jigawa town, who had enjoyed relative peace compared to their counterparts in Kano, Kaduna, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, which have been attacked by Boko Haram insurgents, it was a loss of innocence.
As they were counting the cost of the attack, THISDAY also learnt that 17 people were killed in last Thursday’s attack on Bama, Borno State where Joint Task Force (JTF) troops clashed with Islamic militants.
THISDAY gathered that no fewer than five persons were killed in the attacks on Ringim, which affected a branch of Unity Bank Plc in the town, the Ringim Police Station and the ex-IG’s home.
Three of the dead were instantly identified as policemen because they were dressed in their uniform.
It was gathered that the gunmen arrived the city around 7pm and spent about four hours shooting at the targets.
The acting state Governor, Alhaji Ahmad Mahmud Gumel, who visited the town yesterday, expressed dismay over the incident and blamed armed robbers, whom he said were hiding under the banner of religious group to unleash terror on innocent citizens, for the attacks.
“We don’t see this incident as the work of any group but the handiwork of armed robbers who want to always perpetuate their heinous activities and murder the peace in the state,” he said.
While at the palace of the Emir of Ringim, Alhaji Sayyadi Mahmud Ringim, the acting governor told him that he was at the palace to sympathise with him and the people over the attacks.
The emir described the incident as the worst thing to have happened to the Ringim community in its history.
Confirming the incident, the state police spokesman, Abdul Jinjiri, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, told reporters that other houses like that of the state House of Assembly Deputy Speaker, Alhaji Sule Udi, were also attacked by the gunmen.
THISDAY also gathered yesterday that 17 people, comprising 10 Boko Haram gunmen and seven security operatives were killed in the gun battle that left about 200 houses and shops destroyed in Bama town of Borno State.
Although the police had last week confirmed only two policemen killed in the attack in Bama, a security source confided in THISDAY yesterday that 17 people were actually killed in the town.
The military officer in charge of Bama Barracks, Lt.-Col A.G Laka, briefing the state Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, on the incident, said trouble started when Boko Haram gunmen attacked the police patrol vehicle of a Divisional Police Officer (DPO), killing two of his orderlies.
In a separate attack on the same day, Boko Haram gunmen laid ambush for soldiers patrolling the suburbs of Bama, which led to the death of a soldier while four others sustained injuries.
Laka added that 10 of the insurgents were also killed in the gun duel between them and security agents.
The DPO in charge of Bama, Eko Lawu, who was targeted by the gunmen, said about six of them opened fire on his vehicle.
But he managed to escape because he was in mufti and the gunmen could not recognise him.
The governor expressed sadness over the development and called for a general caution on the part of operatives and residents.
He ordered seven trucks of food items to be delivered to Bama today and distributed to the displaced residents, while he constituted a committee to assess the damage in three days and advise government on compensating the loss incurred.