Governors of the North West geopolitical zone announced yesterday that they have concluded plans to recruit 3,000 vigilantes to battle banditry in the region.
Chairman of the Northwest Governor’s Forum and governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari, said the kinetic and non-kinetic measures taken against banditry were yielding results.
He noted that the region is winning the war against banditry, even as he said the shutdown of the telecommunication network has helped to cut off contact between the bandits and their informants.
According to Masari, the Northwest Governor’s Forum has agreed to recruit 3,000 vigilantes to complement the effort of security agencies in the fight against banditry and other forms of criminalities in the region.
Speaking at a consultative briefing on security in Katsina while playing a host to the minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and royal fathers in the state, the governor said the suspension of mobile telecommunication networks in 13 local government areas of the state was yielding fruits because informants of bandits and kidnappers had been cut-off.
The governor said the demand for ransom which was being made through telephone calls had been made impossible.
He said the ban on the sale of petroleum products above N5,000 at filling stations around the land borders across the state had made it impossible for the bandits to move freely.
LEADERSHIP reports that the governor had directed that only two designated filling stations be allowed to sell fuel up to N5,000 to motorists in 14 local government areas of the state.
Masari who had reinforced the total ban on the sale of petrol in Jerry cans at filling stations said the state will also implement the ban on the sale of fairly used motorcycles in the state.
“The sale of fairly used motorcycles is one source they use to move around to kidnap innocent citizens,” he said.
The governor who decried non-compliance to the ban on the use of motorcycles at “junction parks”, directed district heads to join hands with Police in enforcing the directive.
Justifying his position that bandits had many known collaborators, Masari said bakers at many adjourning local government areas to the forest were taking bread to bandits at night.
He said some of them do production in the night and make supplies to the bandits.
He reiterated his position that he would not negotiate with bandits, describing them as “criminals who are fighting no religious and ideological course”.
The governor solicited the support of the federal government, particularly in the provision of humanitarian services for victims of banditry.
The minister who led a team of journalists on the trip reiterated his position that the media was under-reporting the successes recorded by the security agencies in fighting banditry and other forms of insecurity.
He said the first-hand information from the governor by the journalists he led to the state would help to change the narrative.
The minister said the federal government was very concerned about banditry, noting that with the new platforms and efforts to end the menace there are better days ahead.
The minister also assured the governor of taking the requests of the state to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Emir of Katsina, Abdulmumini Kabir Usman, who spoke on behalf of Daura and Katsina Emirates said without proper dissemination of information the society would be in vacuum.
Usman said information is the backbone and most veritable tool to end security challenges.
He said the killing of innocent citizens by bandits is unacceptable. “Even if you beg them in the name of God, they will not listen. Bandits don’t have religion,” he stated.
He added that all hands must be on deck to fight the menace of banditry to the end.
Scores Killed, Others Kidnapped As Bandits Strike In Katsina Community
Meanwhile, scores of persons in the Gurbi community, Kankara local government council of Katsina State have been killed by gunmen suspected to be bandits deployed by a strange helicopter in the neighbourhood.
Credible sources revealed that the helicopter landed in the Gurbi village at about 5pm yesterday and within five minutes they began to open fire on innocent residents of the area, shooting over 10 persons that are now receiving treatment in the hospital.
A resident of the area, Mujayi Sanusi Ummurana, who confirmed the incident, said the bandits took about two hours to launch attacks from house to house in the area, burning over 10 vehicles and dispelling an uncountable number of people.
Also, Anas Abdullahi, a resident of the town, explained in a video circulating on social media that they were playing football when he saw the plane.
He said when he told the people around that the aircraft resembles the one supplying bandits logistics and food, all of them ran back home only to hear gunshots all over the village.
He said, “I took my firearm and shot at the bandits once and ran away because of their numbers and the firearms they carried.
“At the moment we cannot ascertain the numbers of people killed or those taken away by the bandits until we return home before we can ascertain the number of persons either killed or missing.
“We are calling on the government to know that Allah would hold them accountable for failing to protect the lives and property of the common man.”
Senate Mulls Life Imprisonment For Kidnappers
Meanwhile, a bill proposing life imprisonment for the offence of kidnapping or any form of abduction, wrongful restraint and confinement yesterday passed second reading in the Senate.
The bill sponsored by Senator Ibikunle Amosun (APC, Ogun Central) seeks to, among others, introduce stiffer punishments and punitive measures to combat and prevent kidnapping in Nigeria.
Leading debate on the bill, Senator Amosun observed that kidnapping was a major security challenge confronting Nigeria in recent times.
According to the lawmaker, the light punishment for the offence has continued to make it grow and assume horrendous dimensions with a negative impact on the economy.
After it was exhaustively debated, Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill to the committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
The committee chaired by Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele was given four weeks to report back to the upper chamber.
Refusal To Expose Terrorism Sponsors Shows You’re Complicit, PDP Tells APC
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday said the presidency’s resolve not to expose names of sponsors of terrorism in Nigeria has vindicated its position that the All Progressives Congress (APC) government had been providing official cover for terrorists and bandits pillaging the nation.
The PDP said its position is predicated on the declaration of the Buhari presidency that it was not interested in making public the names of six Nigerians reportedly sent to the federal government by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as sponsors of terrorism in the country.
The national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the decision of the APC-led government to cover the identity of sponsors of mindless mass killings, maiming, rapping, kidnapping of Nigerians as well as the endless violent marauding of communities the party’s “stand that such individuals have connections with the APC.”
He added: “This unpatriotic stance by the Buhari Presidency raises serious national anxieties of high-level complicity in the administration and further explains the reported compromising of our security system in the escalated killings and acts of terrorism in our country in the last six years under the APC.
“Nigerians can see why the APC-led administration has failed to take decisive steps to tackle terrorism, why it prefers to negotiate with terrorists and even makes case for them, instead apprehending and prosecuting them, as witnessed in the beheading of rice farmers in Borno state.”
PDP added that it had always alerted of a connection between the APC and terrorists ravaging various parts of the nation and how the governing party had always failed to forcefully condemn acts of terrorism in the country.
“Nigerians can recall how the APC vehemently defended and still habours the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, a self-confessed terrorism apologist, despite national outcry and demand for his sack.
“Also, the APC has failed to account for the bandits, thugs and hoodlums it imported from neighboring countries to unleash violence on Nigerians and muscle the 2019 elections.
“If the APC and its administration have nothing to cover, our party challenges them to immediately publish the names of the sponsors of terrorism given to it by the UAE, instead of this vexatious desperation to provide official cover for them,” the party further noted.