By Ndahi Marama & Bashir Bello
KATSINA — Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, yesterday, raised the alarm that the state is under security siege, stating categorically that no one, not even himself, is safe.
According to him, reports from security agencies reveal that kidnapping, armed robbery, banditry and cattle rustling are now the order of the day in the state.
The alarm by the governor is coming barely 24 hours after his Borno State counterpart, Kashim Shettima, raised similar concern about worsening security situation in his state, following the escalation of attacks on soldiers and civilians by Boko Haram.
Only a few days ago, Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, also expressed helplessness about the security situation in state, declaring that he wouldn’t mind the Federal Government imposing a state of emergency on the state.
Governor Masari, who spoke at an extraordinary security meeting In Katsina to find a lasting solution to the resurgence of insecurity in the state, said: “Today (yesterday), reports I received from security agencies are all about threat of kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry.
“No one, not even myself, is safe. So, this is the situation and that is why we are here to find a way out, which is a must. There is no option because we are thinking of the survival of our people and state.
“It is now a daily occurrence as no day passes without a case recorded. It is not even rustling of cows but now kidnapping of people.
“Our state is currently under serious siege by armed robbers, kidnappers and armed bandits who arrest rural people at the grassroots at will and demand ransom, which if not paid, they kill their victims.
“The Permanent Secretary was just informing me that his close relative was kidnapped and a ransom of N5 million was demanded and the person who took the money to them was shot.
“Some people visited me, and as they left, they were trailed and robbed of their belongings. The armed robbers could not go away with the vehicle because it has security lock on it.
“In the past, they carried out their activities in the middle of the night, but now, they operate at midnight, 10pm and gradually in broad day light.
“It is not up to a month, right here in front of Government House, five electricity poles were carted away. It is getting out of hand that we should not fold our arms. Let’s return to God, let’s pray to Him to salvage the situation. So we must reach a lasting solution at this meeting to curtail this ugly trend.
“The citizens are on daily basis being harassed by bandits and kidnappers that are on rampage in the state.
“The Katsina government organised this one-day joint security and stakeholders meeting to proffer solutions to the state’s current insecurity challenge.
“The people of Katsina in the 34 local governments now sleep with one eye closed and the other opened.
“Our state is in a dangerous situation. Travelers are afraid of being stopped on the highway and arrested by kidnappers who demand ransom.”
The meeting, which later went into closed-door session, had in attendance top government functionaries, security chiefs and traditional leaders from the worst hit eight local governments areas, bordering Zamfara State and other selected local government areas.
Defence Minister in Maiduguri
Also yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the Defence Minister, Mansur Dan Ali, to Maiduguri, following escalation of attacks on military formations in Borno State by Boko Haram.
The Defence Minister, who had a marathon meeting with service chiefs at the Theatre Command Centre, Maimalari Canntonnment, Maiduguri, told journalists after the meeting that he is in the theatre on Buhari’s orders to get first hand information on the security situation in the north east.
He added that after a meeting with security forces, his team would head to N’Djamena, Chad, to seek bilateral cooperation with government and security forces in the border country, with a view to fighting Boko Haram to finish.
“I was instructed by President Muhammadu Buhari to come and find out what happened and what needs to be done from the commanders.
“I have been briefed by the field commanders and the Chief of Army staff has added his own. I will take home to the President all the recommendations and briefings done by each commander here.
“I was directed to visit Chad on the same mission. Right now, I am proceeding to Chad on the instruction of Mr. President,” Dan-Ali said.
He, however, called on all and sundry to support government and security operatives in the fight against Boko Haram and other criminal activities for peace to reign.
Borno security situation still tight
Facts available to Vanguard,yesterday, revealed that the situation in some parts of Borno is still very dire, following the invasion and dislodgement of troops in Baga town of Kukawa Local Government Area.
Vanguard gathered that many people who travelled from Maiduguri to the southern parts of Borno are finding it difficult to return after the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
A source told Vanguard that the Maiduguri-Damaturu-Biu Road which links Southern Senatorial District, and had relatively been safer, had to be shut down for some days due to escalating attacks.
Meanwhile, the Air Task Force, ATF, of Operation Lafiya Dole has destroyed a building being used as meeting venue by Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, fighters near Baga in Northern Borno State.
A statement by Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said the attack was conducted on new year day, after series of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, ISR, missions confirmed that the building was being used as an assembly point by the terrorists.
He said the ATF dispatched a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet to attack the building, adding that a direct hit was recorded on the target, leading to significant damage to the structure and neutralization of the occupants.