KADUNA- Some residents of Northwest geopolitical zone, the epicenter of banditry activities, say peace is gradually returning to their area, and that the development calls for celebration.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Gusau, Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Birnin Kebbi and Kano, they noted that kidnappings that used to occur almost on a daily basis some months back, had reduced substantially.
They attributed this development to the efforts of security agents, just as they also observed that the peace initiative of state governments, especially in hard-hit Zamfara, had yielded positive results.
While commending security agents on their current effort, they cautioned against repeating mistakes of the past when such efforts were hardly sustained, thereby resulting in the situation reverting back to ‘square one’.
NAN reports that the progress recorded in the effort at restoring peace, is so palpable that some farmers in Zamfara say they have ‘resumed work’ on their farms, with the hope of salvaging their crops during the remaining period of the farming season.
Speaking to NAN in Shinkafi, Zurmi and Birnin Magaji Local Government Areas, they said there was a remarkable reduction in attacks, kidnapping and cattle rustling in their areas.
One of them, Garba Shinkafi, said most farms across the areas were accessible, and that this development had raised the hope of farmers about the possibility of realising “something, no matter how little” from their farms before the end of the rainy season.
Shinkafi attributed the achievement to the state government peace accord with one of the leaders of some of the bandits in the state.
Another farmer from Zurmi, Saminu Umar, told NAN that farmers were enjoying peace, and that farming activities were no longer being hindered.
He then called on government and security agency to ensure sustainability of the peace accord.
Also, the Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) Zamfara Command’, Ikor Oche, said the rate at which they received distress calls, had reduced.
Oche said attacks by bandits in areas like Shinkafi, Zurmi, Birnin Magaji, and part of Tsafe Local Government Area, had reduced drastically.
He attributed this development to the efforts of security agents, as well as the peace talks involving the state government.
On his part, Deputy Governor of the state, Malam Hassan Nasiha, believed that the repentance of Bello Turji, leader of one of the bandits,had resulted in peace in Birnin Magaji, Shinkafi and Zurmi Local Government Areas.
“In the last three months, there had not been any attack by bandits in Magami District as a result of the peace initiative.
“The state government, through the peace committee, entered into a peace deal with the bandits’ leader (Bello Turji) and he agreed to embrace peace.
“Turji is now killing unrepentant bandits who unleashed terror on innocent citizens in Shinkafi, Zurmi and Birnin Magaji Local Government Areas”, he revealed.
He said that the peace committee set up by Zamfara government met with nine bandits’ groups in their camps at Magami and Dansadau emirates, where they enumerated their grievances.
Nasiha also told NAN that Zamfara government had ordered the return of cattle grazing routes, lands, water for livestock and other property of herders seized by some people.
In Katsina, the state government said the current security situation in the state had improved, with over 60 per cent reduction in activities of bandits.
Alhaji Ibrahim Katsina, the Special Adviser to Gov. Aminu Masari on Security Matters, told NAN in Katsina that the state had been enjoying relative peace in recent times, despite the bandit’s attack on some communities.
He attributed the success to the effort of the state government, security agencies, other stakeholders and members of the public.
“From statistics available to us and the feedback we get daily, the crime rate in the state generally, has reduced by over 60 per cent.” he said.
He explained that the state government involved more women in security management and had realised that criminals listened more to women when persuaded to shun criminal activities.
The Advisrf also stated that even the unwholesome activities of political thugs during political gatherings had reduced drastically
NAN recalls that following the improvement in the security situation in the state, the state government recently returned over 12,000 IDPs to their homes in Shimfida village of Jibia Local Government Areas.
Rev. John Hayab, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna state , urged the military to sustain the current vigour being exhibited in the fight agains bandits.
According to him, it is common knowledge that Nigeria’s security forces perform well during international engagements outside the country.
Also, the Acting Administrative Secretary of Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI), National Headquarters, Kaduna , Malam Yusuf Bida, said the current political will on the part of the government of the day might have propelled it to act after series of engagements on the way forward.
Also in Kano,some residents urged the Federal Government to sustain the effort to avert a relapse of the situation.
Muhammad Ahmed, a teacher, said the security challenges had affected all sectors of the economy, hence the need for the government to redouble efforts at addressing the problem.
On his part, Malam Abdullahi Musa, a security expert, said he had also noted an improvement in the ongoing fight against criminals in some parts of the country.
Musa urged the security agents to take the war against bandits, cattle rustlers and kidnappers, to their hideouts in the forests.
“The security agents do not need to wait until when residents are attacked before they go after them,” he said.
Musa stressed for synergy among security agencies, as well as placing priority on acquiring Intelligence information.
In Kebbi, residents expressed similar view, saying the improvement in the security situation was not only in the Northwest, but nationwide.
Alhaji Mustapha Ka’oje, a resident of Badariya area and a Security Expert/Analyst, said the insurgency in the North East and threats of separatists in the South East, had also reduced considerably.
“We are aware of the fact that the onslaught in the North East against insurgents is yielding positive results as over 30,000 insurgents, alongside their families, had so far surrendered, according to the Federal Government security officials.
“The security situation has relatively improved across all parts of the country based on the reports from our relatives and friends living across all parts of the country.
“The threats of the separatists in the South East and parts of South South geo-political zones have also reduced in traction.
“We need to commend the troops and personnel of the Nigeria Police Force and other intelligence/security and paramilitary agencies, who have sustained the onslaught against the criminal elements,” he said.
However, a retired military personnel in Kebbi, Mr Isaac Bala, said it was too early to celebrate victory as far as the fight against criminals was concerned, advising that priority be placed on sustaining the pressure against the bandits by taking the fight to their hideouts.
“We are happy with recent development; our security agents should sustain the efforts; they have started a good job, it need to be sustained.
“However, it is too early to start jubilating; this is just the beginning; all we need to do now as Nigerians is to assist with prayers for them to achieve more success,” he said.
On his part, Alhaji Sani Umar-Jabbi, the District Head of Gagi in Sokoto South Local Government Area attributed the reduction in criminal activities in the state to community involvement in tackling the challenge.
He said community leaders at the grassroots monitored and obtained information on movement of people movements, and that the synergy between the people and security agents had “clicked well”. (NAN)