Senator David Umaru on Tuesday took a swipe at the Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, for giving different figures of death and injured victims in the recent bandit attacks in Shiroro Local Government Area of the state.
This is coming after Umaru had said about 70 persons have been killed by armed bandits who invaded the communities last week.
However, in a swift counter, the government, through the Permanent Secretary (Cabinet and Security), Government House, Alhaji Aliyu Isah Ekan, said the former Senator’s claim is, to say the least, fictitious and also a mischievous attempt to generate ill-will between the people of the affected area and the state government.
The Eagle Online gathered that the Governor only few days ago visited the Internally Displaced Persons camp at Erena in Shiroro Local Government Area, where he said at least 2,400 persons from eight communities are presently taking refuge in Central Primary School.
Accordingly, Ekan said: “Umaru’s claim is an attempt to blackmail Niger State. We have recorded only 37 deaths and not more than 20 persons sustained various degree of injuries and are receiving treatment at the camp.”
However, Umaru in a statement he signed said the government is inconsistent with death figures and playing with incidents of such magnitude.
According to him: “The libelous statement made by Alhaji Aliyu Isah Ekan, Permanent Secretary (Cabinet & Security), Government House, making some spurious allusions on my person regarding the death toll that resulted from the attack on my people by bandits.
“I have pain in me for the grave loss we suffered as a people in this carnage since I hail from Kwaki district of Shiroro LGA.
“It is gruesomely wicked for the Governor to out of shame say death toll is now 37, what a disparity!
“Few days ago government claimed that the lives lost are just 12 and only 22 injured when even its own agency, Niger State emergency management agency as at Monday 10th June 2019 gave the figure of the dead they had already counted to be above 40 and still counting.
“For any serious and concerned government, this should have been a period of mourning; a time for introspection and strategizing to be proactive so as to forestall further and future occurrences instead of indulging in pettiness.
“To accuse me of attempting “to make Niger state look unsafe in the eyes of world” is idle talk. The world already knows that some parts of Niger state are unsafe particularly areas in Shiroro LGA, Rafi and Munya LGAs and that the state Government has not shown any seriousness in addressing the problem.
“It is rather unfortunate that the state government, instead of owning up on its ineptitude and insensitivity to the plight of my people for more than two years now rather have chosen the path of unprovoked, malicious attempt to malign my name.
“The choice of this path by the government is further proof that the lives of my people do not matter to it.”
Senator Umaru further stated that the life of a single person should matter, adding: “How can one explain a Permanent Secretary of the state Government saying that the gunmen were there to attack cows and not villagers. Who told him that? Was he there during the attack? Is he now their spokesperson trying to justify their actions? To him stealing/rustling cows is not a crime? What a shame!!!”
Consequently, Senator Umaru said: “Trading of figures goes to show that the government is not in touch with the suffering masses who have been in this horrific situation for upwards of two years now.
“For avoidance of doubt, I still reecho it that not less than 69 people were killed by the bandits, several injured and cattle rustled. Out of this number 55 bodies have been found whilst the search for the remaining bodies continues.”