The death toll in Illela, a border town about 97 kilometres from Sokoto state capital, attacked by bandits on Monday, has risen to 43.
This was disclosed when Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, on Wednesday led members of the state executive and security councils, as well as other top government officials on a condolence visit to the community.
Newsmen had earlier reported that armed marauders attacked the town and some villages near it in the early hours of Monday, killing thirteen people. However, at the time of the governor’s visit Wednesday afternoon, the toll had risen to 43.
A village Head in one of the five villages – Kalmalo, Munwadata, Sarma, Runji, Tunbulunkun, Tafkin Taramniya and Masasa – that were attacked during the midnight raid, was wounded.
Muhammad Bello, special adviser on media and publicity to the governor said in a statemrnt that Tambuwal during the visit to Illela town told his bereaved audience that: “We’re here to, on behalf of the government and good people of our dear state, extend our heartfelt condolences on this unfortunate incident which claimed the lives of many of our citizens.”
“This is not a small occurrence. It is upsetting,” he stated, emphasizing that: “this incident really touched us.”
He, however, commended the local government authorities, monarchs and community leaders for their lawful composition of a volunteer group working in tandem with the security operatives in the area.
He said the state government “will continue to frown upon the constitution of illegitimate volunteers,” pointing out that “the joint operations of legitimately constituted volunteers, who work closely with and under the supervision of security agencies, is the appropriate antidote to this crisis.
He appealed to the people of the area not to be daunted by the recent attack. “Instead, it should motivate you all to redouble your efforts, without seeking revenge, in securing your communities,” he said.
The Governor assured them of sustained government assistance “whenever required”, while praying for the repose of the souls of the deceased.
“We, therefore, pray that God grant them eternal glory and forgive their shortcomings and sins while they were alive. May He also grant their families and relatives the fortitude to bear the losses of those who died just as we besiege Him to grant health and relief to those who sustained injuries and are recuperating at home and in the hospitals.
“We again pray to God to continue to ensure that peace prevails in all our communities and across the country.
“I, once again, urge you to be patient and prayerful. I am delighted with the communal efforts at cooperation and prayers, led by the monarchs and community leaders here, being offered for the intercession of God in bringing us peace. Please, do not relent. May Allah grant us peace and peaceful coexistence,” he prayed profusely.