•President Buhari’s people in pains
•Police arrest masterminds
By Evelyn Usman
Katsina State, in the North West zone of Nigeria has been in the news lately for the wrong reasons, owing to series of attacks which left several persons dead and others injured.
One of the recent cases was the invasion of two villages in Batsari Local Government area of the state, last month, where life was reportedly snuffed out of 33 persons.
The bandits were said to have invaded the villages: Tsauwa and Damkal, in the evening when most residents were indoors and preparing for prayers. They burnt houses, with animals and properties destroyed in the process.
At the end of the mayhem, 23 persons, majority of who were the aged who could not run for dear life , were killed, in Tsauwa village, while 10 were killed in Dankar.
But the Police and the Military were said to have been able to arrest one of the bandits and also recovered nine operational motorcycles abandoned by some of the fleeing hoodlums.
One would have thought that such news should be far from being heard in the state, being that of the number one citizen of Nigeria, President Muahmmadu Buahari. Unfortunately, these bandits who seem to have thrown caution to the dogs and would stop at nothing to ensure that they unleash their poisonous venom on defenless persons in the state, carry on without recourse to the sanctity of human life.
2000 houses burnt
A similar incident occurred in February 2019, where one person was killed and at least 2,000 persons displaced as bandits sacked 10 villages in Batsari Local Government Area of the state.
The affected villages included Garin Labo, Garin Yara, Kasai, Sabon Garin Dunburawa, Dantudun Garin Yara, Shingi and Garin Dodo, and it left displaced families to take refuge at a Primary School in Batsari.
A week before the attack, a similar one occurred in Kasai village, where a Military personnel and five civilians were killed . Another, also occurred in Ruma Tsohowa, same week, with a life lost and animals carted away.
In April 2019, 14 persons were reportedly killed in Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State, during a clash between members of a vigilante group and armed bandits.
This time around, residents decided to tackle the menace themselves, by taking the war to the bandits hideout, inside the forest . At the end of the battle, both sides, lost seven persons each. The bandits were said to have hurriedly taken away corpses of their colleagues.
Same week, they reportedly launched attack on Sabina local government area of the state, shooting sporadically, at the end of which 18 persons were killed and others injured.
In August 2019, 10 persons, were killed and five injured in a fresh attack by bandits in Kirtawa village ,Safana Local Government Area of the state..
The bandits said to have numbered over 300, were on a reprisal attack. They set five vehicles, four motorcycles ablaze and riddled the tyres of the Police Armoured Personnel Carrier , injuring a personnel of the Nigerian Army and another from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
At a time, these hoodlums introduced kidnapping to their nefarious activities.
In one of the instances last December, their unprecedented presence was announced by sporadic shootings, which rattled residents of Jibia town. In this case, a nursing mother , Hajiya Asma’u Tasiu and her two children: Abu Abu , 20 and Husna Tasi’u, 20 were abducted.
In another invasion, at least 15 women, including pregnant ones were reportedly abducted last year.
The introduction of kidnap heightened the already built up tension in residents, as some of them were attacked and abducted on their way to the farm.
Police beef up security
Following the worrisome development , the Katsina State Police Command rejigged its security apparatus to combat the unpleasant occurrence. It began with training and retraining of its personnel, upgrading its equipment, as well as improve intelligence gathering. The move, became necessary following a threat by some hoodlums to launch an attack on Matazu local government area of the state.
The hoodlums in their brazen display of total disregard to constituted authority, made an audio broadcast, where they threatened to visit the council, attack and kill 100 persons.
Before the threat, some hoodlums , had stormed the Transition Committee Chairman of the Council’s office, shot dead his security guard and kidnapped two of his children.
One positive result in the fight against crime and criminality in the state was the arrest of suspected kidnappers and armed bandits.
Statistics at Crime Guard’s disposal revealed that some notorious perpetrators of the heinous crimes in Katsina state, have either been killed during gun duel with the Police or arrested.
On November 28, 2019, the Command’s Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS arrested one Ibrahim Kasim, 22, alleged to be a suspected member of a kidnap syndicate that had been terrorizing Katsina and Zamfara states.
He allegedly conspired with members of his to kidnap his step- sister, Asiya Kasim, 6, from their father’s house on Sokoto Road, Makera, Funtua Local Government Area of the state . The victim ,was taken to Talata Mafara LGA of Zamfara state.
During interrogation, he confessed to have kept the child in his girlfriend’s place , from where he gave his gang his father’s number to demand for N10 million ransom for the release of his daughter.
Record also showed that the Command, on February 4, 2020, succeeded in rescuing 26 victims of the January 6, 2020 kidnap at Dungun-Mu’azu village, Sabuwa Local Government Area of Katsina state.
It could be recalled that bandits stormed Badna – Buruku village in Chukum area of the state, in 50 motorcycles, kidnapping helpless residents among who were 18 males and eight females . The victims were driven on the motorcycles into a forest in Zamfara state, from where they demanded N1 million each as ransom for their release, threatening to kill them if their demand was not met.
But the Police said that the victims were rescued at Dangun Mu’azu forest, where they were found wandering.
Earlier, the command smashed a syndicate that specialized in threatening residents with text messages on kidnap, arresting one of its suspected members. The syndicate’s modus oparandi included sending text messages , demanding for N 1 million from its victim, failure of which it would threaten to kidnap the victim and members of his family.
One of those who received the kidnap threat text message , was one Muhammed of Dangani village,in Musawa area of the state, on January 26, 2020. He was asked to pay N3 million or risked being kidnapped.
Another resident of Musawa local government area was said to have received same text message, with a demand of N1 million.
Speaking on the arrest of some members of the syndicate, the Command’s spokesman, SP Gambo Isah, said, “ In the course of investigation, a combined team of policemen and repentant bandits laid ambush for the hoodlums at the point of collecting the ransom .One Kabiru Abdullahi, 45 and Mamuda Abdullahi, 35, of Kiryoyi village, Musawa LGA of Katsina state who went to pick the ransom were arrested. The suspects confessed to the commission of the offence.
One of them, Abdullahi, led SARS operatives to a hideout in a bush at Musawa forest where N600,000, being part of the money he collected as ransom from their victims, were recovered”.
Also last month, the command according to reportmade available to Crime Guard, killed 17 suspected bandits who invaded Gurbi village, in Kankara area of the state, killing four persons and rustling some domestic animals .
Eighty cows, 180 sheep and a donkey earlier carted away from the village and other neighbouring villages were recovered at the end of the cross fire between the Police and bandits.
Same month, the Command recovered 23 cows which were abandoned by fleeing bandits who invaded Kururuwa village, in Batsari area of the state, in their bid to evade arrest.
Also in February 2020, operatives of the command and some Military personnel responded to a distress call of an invasion of some bandits at Zaytoon House and Bakery, in Funtua area of the state, arresting a suspected member of the gang identified simply as Salisu, 24, who sustained gun shot wound in his right leg., during cross fire.
Other suspected members of kidnap syndicates terrorsing the state have also been arrested.
While it is not yet time to start singing praises of the security agencies, the tempo, should be sustained in order for helpless and defenseless residents to sleep with their two eyes closed.