An early morning attack on Tawari community in Kogi Local Government Area of Kogi State yesterday left about 23 persons dead.
The attack was said to have been launched about 1am on Friday by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen numbering over 100.
Locals said that the attackers invaded the community and began shooting sporadically and setting ablaze residential houses and places of worship.
It was also confirmed that the ward chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Tawari ward, Ibrahim Simbabi, and the Chief Imam of the village, Mallam Zakari Salihu, were amongt those killed in the attack. The attackers also razed down the oldest clinic in the area which was built by missionaries during colonial rule and burnt the official vehicle of the traditional ruler of the area, the Aguma of Tawari, Alhaji Idris Tawari, among other property.
President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the murder of 19 people by unknown gunmen in Tawari community of Kogi State early yesterday morning.
The President, according to a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, yesterday, said: “There is no excuse or justification for killing innocent people by anybody or group and for whatever motive.
“The killings and revenge killings will only aggravate the cycle of violence, creating neither safety nor security for any side.
“People should avoid taking the law into their own hands because doing so could make a bad situation worse and undermine the government’s efforts to tackle security challenges.
“I am gravely worried about the frequency and temptation of using violence to settle disputes, instead of following lawful and amicable means to avoid needless destruction of lives and property.”
Meanwhile, the President has reassured Nigerians that withdrawal of the military from areas where peace had been restored would not be done in a manner that could expose communities to more risks of attacks.
He said the withdrawal exercise would be gradual and carefully planned, not abrupt or arbitrary to jeopardise the success already recorded by the military.
Reacting to concerns and appeals from governors and community leaders over the proposed withdrawal, the President said the “administration will not abandon citizens in need of protection.”
He urged Nigerians, especially public affairs analysts, to carefully study the statement following a security council meeting with service chiefs that the withdrawal of troops would be done after an “assessment” to determine areas where peace had returned to enable civil authorities to assume full control.
According to Shehu, the President said where it is determined that the withdrawal would not in any way jeopardise the peace already achieved, the military pull-out would be in a careful and gradual way.
“You don’t need to worry; we will not expose our people and their communities to harm or danger. The withdrawal is to allow the military to focus on its primary duty of defending the nation against external aggression. It is the duty of the Police to handle internal security since Nigeria is not at war.
“The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) will support the Police to provide internal security. When it is time to withdraw, nothing will be rushed,” he assured.