By Andy Asemota
Governor Bello Masari of Katsina State has said the insecurity that has afflicted the state in recent years is sponsored by politicians, who are bent on reaping dubious political gains or use it as leverage ahead of the 2023 elections.
According to Governor Masari, the unnamed politicians want to dent the image of All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state and the country and portray them as being passive in the face of ravaging insecurity.
Beside saying insecurity in the Katsina is political, Masari also attributed the spate of killings in the state to reprisal attacks by bandits against the cold-blooded murder of their suspected relatives or collaborators by groups that had been outlawed by the state government.
He said activities of the groups, including the well-known Yan’sankee teams, were counter-productive, as they would travel to distant villages and communities to kill one or two suspects, but the irate bandits would strike back later, killing innocent persons in their numbers in the affected villages.
Amid these claims over the killings are the conclusions of many Katsina residents that the bandits had never hidden their desperation to forcefully evict various rural communities in the state.
A university lecturer in Katsina told Vanguard: “Nigerians need to know the exact motive of the bandits, so that these killings and insecurity should not continue to linger in the state and the North-West in particular.”
The don, who spoke in confidence, said: “Fleeing residents of several villages have claimed again and again that the bandits that are killing their men and youths often warned that the people of the areas should vacate the land or they would know no peace.”
This is coming as the Emir of Katsina, Alhajii Abdulmumin Kabir Usman, had repeatedly appealed, almost in tears, to the government to act decisively to stop the killings and destruction of his people’s means of livelihood.
Killing fields of Katsina
Despite government and security agencies’ assurances that there was no cause for alarm, the internally-displaced persons, IDPs, camps in Faskari and Dandume Local Government areas had thousands of IDPs under their roofs until some weeks ago, when their figures fell considerably.
Other IDPs camps in Batsari, Jibia and Kankara had also seen women and children in their numbers streaming in from different local communities for succour.
Just last Saturday, no fewer than 40 innocent children, officers and men of the military were slain.
Some 11 children in Yammama Village, Malumfashi Local Government Area of the state, were fiddling with what they thought to be toys, when the grenades they found in a farm from which they were cutting grasses to feed domestic animals exploded in their faces.
Six of them, including five from the same parents, died on the spot about 11.30am. The others, who escaped untimely death on the fateful day, were rushed to the hospital in critical conditions for treatment.
It was, in fact, a double tragedy in Katsina that day as no fewer than 16 of the Nigerian soldiers and officers lost their lives in Jibia axis of the state.
Later in the night, it was gathered that the troops were advancing on foot in Shimfida Village of Jibia Local Government Area when they were ambushed by dare-devil gunmen at about 6.13pm.
The cause of the tragedy, which also left about 28 other soldiers wounded, was traced to the bandits’ camp on a hilltop in the area.
However, there were conflicting reports about the casualties on the Jibia incident.
The Defence Headquarters said the troops of Operation Sahel Sanity killed over 17 of the gunmen, but suffered the casualty of an officer and two soldiers, with four others being wounded in the action, contrary to reports.