ALTHOUGH, the home of hospitality, Katsina State recently, flawed by the activities of bandits, kidnappers, rapists, robbers, arms smugglers, car snatchers, human traffickers among others, one would attempt to say 2021, unlike the previous years, the state, has witnessed relative peace following the activities of the bandits despite the fact that the chief security officer of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, hails from the state.

The security situation has drastically improved as a result of the relentless efforts of the state governor with the use of the state security apparatus in conjunction with the security agencies operating in the state on oath to deal decisively with anyone causing mayhem in the hospitality state of the country. Therefore, in its effort to reclaim the lost glory, the state government, police and its sister’ security agents from January 2021 to March 20, 2021, recorded a tremendous achievement in the arrest of 60 rapists in about 37 cases. Kidnappers, cattle rustlers, bandits and their cohorts, 65 suspected armed robbers. The state, under review also recovered 7 vehicles, 15 motorcycles, 274 cows, 48 goats, 10 donkeys and rescued 70 kidnapped victims unharmed.

Investigation revealed that 4 General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG), 36 AK47 rifles, 2 G3 rifles, 1 Light Assault rifle (LAR), Anti-Aircraft ammunition (AAM), 288, 15 Locally Made Guns (LMG), 118 7.62 MMA.

In the area of human trafficking, so far, the state has recorded successes in the rescue of 66 victims during the period under review. On the side of the government, history could be traced back to 2015 when security situations got out of hand, the present leadership in the State under Governor Aminu Bello Masari, in 2016, engaged what is now referred to as the “had I know” mechanism in securing the lost glory of Katsina from the crooks aimed at fulfilling sole responsibility of securing lives and property of citizenry and wooing investors by negotiating with the crooks rather, nosedived into whacky earholes. Once bitten, twice shy was in the case of Governor Aminu Bello Masari which has, however, in 2021, turned a preacher to his colleagues, the Governors especially those facing insecurity, “not to dialogue with bandits under whatever guise, because they are criminals”. For him, there are achievements in his renewed strategy of using force through the help of security agents, traditional rulers, religious leaders, vigilante groups and of course, the residents.

That has indeed paved the way for the Governor who is always saying, he will never negotiate with the bandits”. For me, we will not sit at the same table because if to say they are fighting based on ideology, then there is a basis for negotiation, but they are fighting to steal. How can you stop anybody stealing? It can only be done by force or by bringing him under control by force—that is how you can deal with a thief. They don’t have associations; they are a bunch of criminals”. Governor Aminu Masari also laments lack of unity in Nigeria “One of our problems is that we don’t look at this country as one body. We should have learnt lessons from Boko Haram. When it started in Borno, some people thought these are Muslim extremists, so is not their business, but gradually many states, including FCT, were affected and then it became a national problem. Likewise, when banditry started, it was a Northwestern affair before it has now become a national affair.

He called for collective effort as a country if they must defeat banditry “We should learn to help each other. When there is a problem in a particular place, let all of us fight the problem and stop it because if we don’t, it will grow and affect all parts of the country. We should also look at all criminals as criminals irrespective of where they come from”. Before the advent of COVID-19, students in schools in Katsina State have been at home due to the insecurity marred by the activities of banditry ranging from kidnapping most especially Kankara school which led to the closure of schools across the state.

Early January, all-day schools resumed, subsequently, 4 out of the 38 boarding secondary schools in the state fully resumed while the rest resumed and are operating system since March 2021. It was however, all-girls boarding secondary schools are yet to resume which according to Governor Aminu Bello Masari, the arrangement is on to get them back in school soon. “We are working on the physical security of the female hostels across the state and we have not completed the process. We are fully securing the dormitories with all that you can think of. It is after the completion of securing the dormitories that we can say we have taken what is humanly possible to provide the security and return the girls.

Look, we must return our people to school. We shouldn’t look as if we are being defeated. We cannot allow ourselves to be defeated and our children must go to school. If all of us in the affected states are united and say okay let’s go back to school. Everybody is in school; how many people will they kidnap? Would they have the capacity or infrastructures to hold them? We shouldn’t surrender. All the security arrangements would be completed within two weeks to enable our female students to resume academic activities. We are more concerned because it is easy for the boys’ boarding schools to go today schools closer to them, but for the girls’ boarding schools, the girls come from far places.

If you open the schools and say for a day, some of the boarding schools will hardly get up to 20 students. Take for an example, Government Girls Science Secondary School Ajiwa, if you open it for the day, maybe only well-to-do individuals who are in Katsina can afford to transport their children to the school, and you will hardly find students for even two classes, but this is a school that has thousands of students.

So, we have to do what we can to secure the area and return the girls to the school, and we must not give up”. Contrary to speculations that residents of some local government areas have fled their homes especially in Faskari, Dandimi, Sabuwa and others following frequent attacks by bandits, investigations revealed that no local governments in the state have been deserted except for pockets of incidents in some villages in Sabuwa Local Government Area that is sharing boundaries with Birini Gwari forest of Kaduna State that these bandits coming to perpetrate act infringes to the forest due to their proximity. Then Dandimi and Faskari Local Government Areas, were the three local governments that the state is witnessing some pockets of bandits attacks if not, Katsina State is safe unlike previous years that bandits used to come in hundreds to attack villages especially that of Kadisu where bandits came en mass and killed 22 people.

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