By YUSHA’U ADAMU IBRAHIM & HABIBU UMAR AMINU
KATSINA – It was a terrifying moment for residents of Yankara village in Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State when dozens of armed bandits stormed the village and kidnapped a bride-to-be and her best friend 48 hours to her wedding Fatiha.
The heavily armed bandits, who stormed the village on motorbikes at night when most villagers had gone to bed, went to the family house of the bride-to-be and demanded for her and her best friend, a source told Daily Trust on Sunday.
According to the source, the bandits also carted away huge quantities of food items and other valuables during the operation.
“We were terrified by excessive gun shots. They woke up every single living thing in this village. Some people who were able to escape, slept in the bush, while those who remained behind had to meet the demands of the bandits, who chose the sort of foodstuff they wanted and asked the villagers to put them in sacks.
“Anybody caught by the bandits had no option than to comply with their directives or risk being killed.However, as I am speaking with you, we do not know the whereabouts of the kidnapped bride-to-be and her friend.”
Over 620 women and children from Batsari LGA are currently taking refuge at the premises of Arabic Teachers College Kofar Kwaya in Katsina metropolis after escaping several attacks on their communities by bandits.
Malama Habi Abdullahi, a resident of Kandawa village in Batsari Local Government, is one of the refugees at the Government Arabic Teachers College Kofar Kwaya. Recounting the attack, Habi said: “I heard a loud noise and choose to ignore it at first, assuming it was children playing outside. The noise became louder, followed by gun shots. I quickly grabbed my child and headed outside and then saw people running to safety also.”
Malama Habiba said as she ran with no particular direction in mind, she saw bandits on motorcycles setting houses ablaze and shooting people. Many died while others are still nursing their injuries. “Over 300 motorcycles attacked the village with each carrying more than two persons armed with guns,”she said.
Another refugee, Malama Hafsu Mohammed, a mother of six whose husband was killed last year in a similar attack, said “Three weeks ago, the bandits attacked our village; we all ran away and now sleep in the open and live on the mercies of people who support us with food and clothing.”
For Malama Fati Hassan of Yau-Yau village, the whereabouts of her children, dead or alive, is still unknown. “As I speak, I don’t know the whereabouts of my children. I have four children and I don’t know if they are alive or not. These bandits attacked us for straight seven days. We managed to escape to this place.”
Many communities in both southern and central Katsina have witnessed series of attacks by bandits, who specialise in kidnapping, robbing, maiming, killing and rustling animals.
Villages like Marabar Maigora, Sabon Layin Galadima Faskari Yamma were among the worst hit in Faskari and Sabuwa local government areas respectively, according to a source. Other villages affected include Yandaka, Kandawa, Bakiyawa, Runka, Yau-Yau, Yar-Gamji, Garin Labo, Ruma, Wagini and Ruwan Faru among others.
Daily Trust on Sunday observed that the worst hit local governments include Jibia, Batsari, Danmusa, Safana, Kankara, Sabuwa, Faskari, and Dandume. Others are Dutsinma, Kurfi, Batagarawa, Kaita, Kafur and Malumfashi
Lamenting the situation, the Sarkin Rumah and District Head of Batsari, Alhaji Tukur Muazu, said a lot of his people had been displaced in virtually all villages under his domain. “We had little respite for a while but from the beginning of the Ramadan fast till now, hardly a day passes without an attack.”
“They chase people, collect their animals, kill those they want to kill, and kidnap some. I can’t say what they want or what is causing this, but clearly, it’s the lack of fear for God; if not, you can’t just kill someone for denying you his property.”
He, however, alleged that “Government is aware of everything happening because it has been going on since the last administration. When a new government came, it subsided and now it has resumed.” He noted that a peace deal was reached and the area had peace for a while and everyone returned to their normal lives, however, life can’t be said to be the same presently.
Alhaji Tukur Muazu also told Daily Trust on Sunday that he had exhausted his farm produce feeding people taking refuge in his home as he has lost count of the number of people in his home.
“Many villages are now deserted and occupied by the bandits. We need urgent intervention from the Federal Government because the bandits see themselves as being above the law,” he pleaded.
However, Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim Mahuta, a special adviser to Governor Aminu Bello Masari,blamed theFederal Government for the insecurity in the state, saying “the issue of insecurity in Katsina State is purely a failure of the Federal Government. The governor has limitations in controlling the security apparatus such as army, police and the rest of other security agencies.
“The governor cannot buy weapons for the security personnel in order to confront the bandits. The only thing a governor can do is to complement the security agencies by assisting them to fuel their vehicles, buy patrol vans or give them accommodation. Only the Federal Government can buy sophisticated weapons and ammunitions for the security personnel and it is only the president that can order the security personnel to engage the bandits.
“The highest the governor can do is to enter peace agreement with bandits, which I do not support because there is no way we can sustain it. You can only succeed in such a deal if it is the enemy that requested it, otherwise you will end up financing the bandits to buy more weapons which they will use against the country. Anytime you enter into such an agreement, they betray you and when you come back for another reconciliation, they will demand for more funds.”
Daily Trust on Sunday, however, reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered a military action against bandits in Katsina, Niger and Zamafara states recently.
Worried by the increasing rate of banditry in the state members of the Katsina State House of Assembly reconvened on May 5, 2020 and held a special plenary to deliberate on the state of insecurity in the state. Shehu Dalhartu Tafoki, Deputy Speaker of Katsina State House of Assembly representing Faskari Local Government Area, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the House had come up with five resolutions during its special plenary.
He said: “One, we urged the state government to, as a matter of urgency, review the peace pact it entered with bandits. Two, government should also change its approach in the fight against banditry in the state by including traditional method. Here, we mean government should incorporate members of vigilante groups in the fight.
“In my local government, we have engaged 200 members of vigilante group for this purpose and we have started enjoying the results because we are getting useful information from them. The thing is that the bandits have many informants within the communities, who feed them with vital information regarding the communities.
“Three, Katsina State government should organise a security summit where stakeholders in mattersconcerning security will be invited to discuss the way out. Fourth, Katsina State government should seek the assistance of the Federal Government to fight the insurgency in the state and fifth, Katsina State House of Assembly should do everything possible to support government to fight the bandits.”
Tafoki said no responsible government would fold its arms and watch bandits attacking its citizens, calling on the Federal Government to do more about the activities of bandits in Katsina. He said “although the governor is doing his best, it is not enough to crush the bandits.”
However, the Secretary to the Government of Katsina State, Alhaji Mustapha Muhammad Inuwa, while reacting to the issue of insecurity in the state, said the recent directives to the military to engage the bandits would soon give the people of Katsina great relief.
He said: “People should exercise patience because the soldiers have concluded their plans to engage the bandits decisively. We should wait and see and I am sure in the next few days, the soldiers will commence operations.” (Daily Trust on Sunday)