•Senator Gobir alleges Nigerian soldiers don’t respond to distress calls in Sokoto
•Adds Nigerians now run to Niger Republic Army for help
•Notes over 300 killed in Sokoto East in 3 months; over 5,000 migrate to Niger Republic
•Army keeps mum
By Henry Umoru
The Senate yesterday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately deploy the military to Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger and Sokoto states to flush out bandits currently terrorising the states.
The call came against the backdrop of last week’s order by the President that the military be deployed to Katsina State for the same reason.
The Senate’s decision followed the alarm raised by chairman of the Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Senator Ibrahim Gobir (APC, Sokoto East), that over 300 people had been killed or kidnapped in his senatorial district on daily basis by bandits in the last three months.
Senator Gobir also told his colleagues that people in his constituency now run to Nigerien soldiers for protection, alleging that Nigerian soldiers often fail to respond to distress calls when the bandits come calling or come late when they respond at all.
The Nigerian Army could not be reached for comments last night as the spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, who promised to send the Army’s reaction failed to do so at press time last night.
However, Senator Gobir, who was contributing to a motion on urgent military action against banditry in Niger State by the Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North), also alleged that Nigerian soldiers have completely abandoned his constituents, exposing them to serious danger.
Senator Abdullahi had in the motion, drawn the attention of his colleagues to the activities of bandits in Niger State and also called on government to extend its current military operations to flush out bandits in Zamfara and Katsina states to Niger State.
In his contribution, Senator Gobir, who took a swipe at the Nigerian military, said many people in his senatorial district have in distress, fled to Niger Republic for safety, aided by the military of the neighbouring country.
Senator Gobir said the people of Sokoto State have lost over 7,800 cows worth N2.5 billion, adding the activities of the bandits have displaced about 5,000 people in Basira area, located in the border between Nigeria and Niger Republic.
Senator Gobir said: “The situation in Sokoto East as far as armed banditry is concerned is pathetic and tragic because it is the army of Niger Republic that had been coming to their rescue, while the Nigerian Army looks the other way.
“In fact, based on very reliable and verifiable information from the area, many at times, the people of the affected areas call on Nigerian Army for help and protection against the bandits, but get no response.
“But graciously, the Nigerien Army has been assisting in warding off the bandits, the very reason why not less than 5,000 people in the affected areas have migrated to Niger Republic for safety.
“Fallout of this is the grinding poverty ravaging the affected people in the form of serious hunger since their cows and other animals are on daily basis being stolen.
“The situation is so bad that we only get help from Niger Republic and not from Nigeria at all, be it from the military or the police.
“The affected people cannot be perpetually be at the mercy of Nigerien soldiers and still expect to proudly see themselves as Nigerians.
“Very urgent, drastic action is required from President Buhari through the military in the form of expansion of anti-banditry operation currently being carried out in Zamfara and Katsina state to Sokoto State.”
Also speaking, Chairman, Senate Services Committee, Senator Muhammed Musa (APC, Niger East), who last week brought a similar motion before the Senate, expressed worry that Nigeria might not be able to nip banditry in the bud, considering the manner the issue is being handled by government.
Earlier, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, who came under Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules as amended, lamented the daily occurrence of armed banditry in Niger State, stressing that required urgent intervention from President Muhamnadu Buhari.
He said the Senate is “aware through a Presidential spokesman that President Muhammadu Buhari has authorized the commencement of a major military operation to sweep bandits and kidnappers out of Katsina State; as major proactive measures by Special Forces to replace the reactive strikes against the camps of these bandits and criminals.
“The criminality by these armed bandits and kidnappers is carried out mostly under the cover of the contagious forests reserves and areas stretching from Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna to Niger states with pockets of safe havens in Kebbi and Sokoto states.”
The lawmaker expressed concerns that a major offensive in Katsina State alone was likely to make the armed bandits and kidnappers seek safer haven in Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states which host the Zurmi and Kamuku forests among others.
According to him, this will further compound the plight of hapless and poor communities along these forest corridors.
“It was the earlier massive operations in Zamfara and Kaduna states that led the armed bandits to seek safe haven elsewhere, moving into Katsina and Niger states respectively,’’ he said.
The Senate also commended President Buhari for the anti-banditry operations going on in Katsina and Zamfara states.
Meanwhile, the Senate has urged President Muhamnadu Buhari to direct the military to immediately expand its operations against banditry from Katsina and Zamfara to Sokoto, Niger States and other affected neighbouring states.
President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, who noted that the security challenges in the country were enormous, said they were, however, surmountable.