Katsina State is covered with blood as banditry, cattle rustling, kidnapping and other forms of criminality have intensified in communities over the past two weeks, HumAngle has learnt.
Criminal activities are reportedly occurring almost daily and they include overnight attacks.
The banditry in the state is becoming a sophisticated enterprise challenging the capacity and the authority of the state government, sources said.
Reports have shown that the bandits operating between Katsina and Zamfara states have formed networks exerting pressure on remote communities.
Following the frequency of the attacks, the residents of some local government areas complain that government is doing little to protect them from the bandits who continue to prowl vast forests between Katsina and Zamfara states.
Twelve of the 34 local government areas of the state seeing heightened armed attacks are Jibia, Batsari, Safana, Kurfi, Dutsinma, Kankara, Faskari, Dandume, Sabuwa, Batagarawa DanMusa and some parts of Funtua.
Abubakar Sabi’u is the Chairman of “Muryar Talaka” from Sabuwa Local Government Area. In an audio note, he narrated what happened in his local government area.
“Hardly a day passed without an attack from the bandits. They kidnapped Alhaji Danladi Barata and his son four weeks ago – they are still nowhere to be found.
“Even yesterday they were here with heavy arms yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’ from 1p.m. till 2a.m. After they rained us with bullets they took Alhaji Yahaya Sani and his nine-year-old son.
“We are totally unsecured. We used to have an overnight stay. But in this period when the attacks are intensifying everyday we hardly stay up to 9p.m. outdoors,” said Abubakar.
Reports from Jibia said that some youth from the local government area blocked Katsina-Jibia-Maradi highway to protest the extent to which government had abandoned them.
“The bandits go on daily basis, kill people and rape women in the presence of their parents, husbands and children,” Muhammad Kabir, a concerned Katsina citizens, told HumAngle.
Attacks in Jibia Local Government Area are worst in Bugaje, Yangayya and Zandam, near Niger Republic. Residents of the villages told HumAngle that they sometimes resorted to seeking help from the Nigerien Army to counter the attacks.
Na’im Jibia, the Auditor of Jibia First, an organisation for the development of the local government area, told HumAngle that:
“Although security operatives come and disperse the bandits, they go immediately they finish their operations. The bandits come back immediately they realise we are left alone,” he said.
“We’ve heard that they moved to Zandam after they left Jibia. One of the people there told us through a phone call.
“The bandits pass through Yansololi, which is the well known route to their hideouts. When soldiers come they push them to their hideouts only but never stop them from further attacks,” said Na’im.
A footage circulating on social media shows a nursing mother who was allegedly raped by the bandits in front of her young son narrating what happened to her after they went to her house.
“We went to general hospital in Batsari but they (the doctors) told us we had to bring a police officer. They examined my body and gave me some drugs after my in-law brought with him two police officers to the hospital,” the weeping mother said.
In Yankara, according to Muhammad Kabir, it is the same story. The bandits went and killed three persons, came back and dispersed a funeral procession of the dead bodies a day after. The people of the village retaliated by killing the bandits gang (woman) leader, Abu Uwar Daba. The killing of the woman drew the wrath of the bandits on the villagers.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Bello Masari, recently told Maj.-Gen. Leo Irabor, the Chief of Defence Training and Operations, Defence Headquarters, that he was very confused and helpless with limited resources and authority.
“I am in a very confused situation. I have limited resources and authority. I believe that if the brigade and the division are empowered with materials and logistics, we will see the end of this,” the governor said.
“It is said that a stitch in time saves nine. The situation in the Northwest
is becoming worrisome, I am disturbed. The unfortunate situation of this coronavirus pandemic is what is keeping the information, if not, the number of killings would have gotten everywhere. We live under daily threats.
“I will take the risk of saying that these people are worse than animals because they lack any form of education. They don’t behave as Muslims. They have refused to allow government correct what is wrong.
“You can’t blame this government, or even the previous one. This forest has been abandoned for a very long time. For us to correct what is wrong, there has to be peace. Our dialogue with them is working in some places, but not in most places.
“We need a complete cleanup operation. Unless the complete structure of banditry is destroyed, you can never have peace.
“Their structures, headquarters and modus operandi are known. They act like gangs of worm. They converge and attack in numbers.
“ I am a very angry person because people look up to the governor to protect their lives property, honour and dignity, but I am sorry to say we are failing in that; and it is unfortunate.’’
The State House of Assembly held a special session to draw the attention of the authorities to the situation and criticised security operatives for not doing enough to secure the people.