Indicts some security personnel, elites for fueling menace
…Bandits release 10, abduct 5
By Bashir Bello
Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State have cried out for help to address the lingering insecurity ranging from banditry to kidnapping and others in the state before it spread to other parts of the nation and consume it.
Masari said, “As a nation, we have a problem. And I think the sooner we understand one thing that Nigeria is a body. If it one finger is sick, the whole body is sick. Because it can be cancerous and consume the whole body.
“So some people who feels that if there is problem in some certain areas, it doesn’t affect them, they are joking. Some years ago, if you talk about kidnapping here (Katsina), people will laugh. When we had our first amnesty program, it was cattle rustling, there was no kidnapping, no banditry. It was simply cattle rustling occassioned by shoot out but not like bandits can organize themselves in 200 or 300 and invade a whole community.
“So, if we don’t do what is urgently needed of us to do, we don’t know after 10 years, what will come. But certainly, we will be tested. We have to prepare ourselves and people that will be tested,” Masari stated.
The Governor stated this on Monday when he received in his office the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila who led other principal officers on working visit to the state over the wave of insecurity.
Masari said, “I appeal to all of us as Nigerians, the issue of criminalities, banditry, kidnapping has nothing to do with party affiliation because I told the people that whenever the bandits come their village, do they ask for your membership cards? Do they ask of what faith are you? They don’t.
“And to those who feel it is an opportunity to bash the government to stop, because there have to be Nigeria before you become who you are or there have to be Katsina before you come. So there has to be peace. So it is for all of us to understand that what Nigeria is facing now is beyond partisan consideration. We should approach it as a people, nation and conquer it.
“Let’s behave like the ordinary hunters, they would all chase antelopes, until when they kill it then they would all sit.
“So let us kill the banditry, kidnapping and all forms of divisible criminality, then we come to contest for power, then we can be as that we can do. But for now, let us first, save the country, for us at local level, save the state before we start fighting for who becomes what.
“I consider what is going on as a warning signal for us to seat up and do what is necessary because unless there massive intervention to give the people living in the forest that which will afford them to earn a living.
“So fundamentally, there must be an aggressive approach to educate the people. Secondly, we have to have a rehabilitation programme to make the forest conducive for the people who live on it, survive on it to continue to live on it.
“So the state do not have the necessary resources to aggressively do that. Because what we are trying to do now is to normalize the issues and start addressing the issue fundamentals. Because unless you normalize the issue, the area will not be calm and peaceful for you to do anything. And people living in the forest expect by the end of the rainy season to see some actions going on. They are not asking for too much, they are asking for schools, pathways for their cattle and other animals, clinics, roads for human and animals, water points, rehabilitation of dams that are in the forest,” he said.
Masari said he is faced with constraints of resources to do somethings to appease the Fulani herdsmen.
“My main concern is how do I get the resources to do something that will appease. Here we started constructing schools, 10 primary school, 10 clinics for both vetinary medicine and human medicine, but unfortunately the resurgence of the crisis have made the schools, all of them now dormant. Some of the schools have been taking over by bandits as their headquarters.
“On the other hand, we are approaching 2020 budget, and we as a state we have interest and I hope our interest that will come through our representatives in the house would be given due consideration.
“We have serious challenges, if the Federal government will come and take over some of the challenges, then we will be able to go to the forest and do what is necessary in order to maintain peace,” he said.
On the porous border, Masari said, “Our porous border with Niger Republic as a result of the fall of Gaddafi has unleashed arms and ammunition accompanied by drugs which the young people in the forest are taking. An average of 35 – 40 years are in the forest stacked with illiteracy, no western education nor Islamic. So you can see the kind of people we are living with.
“If you have opportunities to discussing with some leaders of African parliament, draw their attention to the porous nature of our borders that made transborder criminalities very easy.
“So I think there is need for stronger cooperation among African countries through the parliaments to have legislation otherwise arms will be moving from one part to another,” the Governor said.
Masari also traced the genesis of the menace in the state to what he said the people (Fulani herdsmen) described as negligence, harrassment, some form of unjustly exploitation and extortion by some the security personnel, some elites and volunteers “Yansakai” in the state.
“they were terribly been harassed by security men, extorting a child to the offences they never committed and until we started this (dialogue initiative), a Fulani man or woman cannot go to take his cow to the market. He has to sale it off to a middleman who will go into the forest, something of N150,000 buy it N20,000 or N30,000. If the Fulani man refuses to sell, the man would come back to town and when he (Fulani man) takes his cattle to market he (the other man) will tell the security man, that man (Fulani man) is a bandit, he stole the cow. And so the cow and the owner will end up in… And do you know how much they pay? Some were been charged N2million or N3million and atimes N4million before they were released.
“And some they will ask them to go and bring their gun or money for the gun. The gun normally is about N700,000 or N750,000. So you go and sell the gun, bring back the money before you are released. And if you are unfortunate that you are been arrested and your brother, cousin or relative comes, he would be arrested, so it would be double jeopardy because you have to pay for yourselves and the person. In the event, many of them have lost their cattle, they are now living in the forest without cattle but with their lives.
“And atimes, the elites amongst us living in the town are not helping matters by also trying to use opportunities to exploit and extort the herdsmen,” Masari said.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila said they were in the state to ascertain the level of insecurity in the state in order to see how it could come in and help the state in finding a lasting solution to the ugly menace.
“We came here to see what’s happening on ground, to talk to the Governor. Nigeria is one country, state cannot deal with issues like this on its own. Issues like this are complicated and very complex. We believe that at the Federal government level on whom lies the better part of security of Nigeria there must be something we can do to assist the state. And you cannot assist the state if you don’t know what is going on (first hand account). We have been to Zamfara and Borno State, and the same stories.
“As members we want to compliment what the government is doing so that together we find a lasting solution to the nagging problem of insecurity,” Gbajabiamila said.
Bandits release 10, abduct 5
After, the meeting, the Governor and the Speaker received another batch of 10 kidnap victims (9 females and a male) from Ruma village of Batsari local government released to the government by repentant bandits.
The Speaker donated the sum of N100,000 to the victims while the Governor gave out unsewed wrappers to the victims.
Meanwhile, in the early hours of Monday, the bandits were said to have kidnapped five persons in the same Batsari LGAs.
The Governor who disclosed this said, “You will win some, you lose some. Yesterday, 10 people were brought back from the abductors from Batsari LGA and early hours of today they took 5. We are following events in Batsari and we have been able to locate where the problem is coming.
“So on one hand, we are preaching peace ,on the other hand are still holding gun and power to fight. And we told them clearly, nobody can confront the Federal government and survive it.
“Luckily enough, majority of them have responded and I think we can safely say, we have gotten up to 80 per cent.
“But you know in fighting this type of criminality, there are beneficiaries who will fight back so it is up to us as leaders to stand firm to continue until we achieve total peace. It is doable and can be done.
“Like, the event of Batsari, they we carried out to create panic but I appeal to the people to be calm,” Masari said.