Random Cogitations with Prof M. K. Othman
Zamfara and Katsina are two neighbouring states known to have sealed a “perfect deal” with bandits known as “peace accord”. The accord was meant to stop the bandits attacking communities, killing people and rustling their cattle. On the part of the bandits, the offer was very clear, they were expected to, pronto, stop criminal activities, become law-abiding citizens and imbibe legitimate means of livelihood, release all kidnapped persons and also lay down their arms. On the part of governments, the offer was shrouded with secrecy, lack of clarity and doubtful.
Part government offer was granting of amnesty to the “repentant bandits”, they would be free from prosecution due to their past nefarious and criminal activities and release some of the detained bandits. On the day of the accord, many kidnapped victims regained their freedoms and were united with their families; some firearms were seen voluntarily handed over to security agencies. Was the peace accord successful?
Except for the few moments when the government officials and the leadership of the bandits were seen merrymaking to signify the commencement of the peace accord, the bandits breached and continued to breach the accord all through. The accord became a license for bandits to freely move around rural communities molesting and harassing rural dwellers unchallenged. The local vigilantes dare not reprimand the bandits, no matter the provocation and act of criminality to avoid the accusation of breaching the accord. This free movement of bandits graduated to full resumption of banditry and unleashing of terror to armless, helpless and hapless citizens living in the affected rural communities.
Katsina, my dearest state is the worst affected by banditry as hundreds of people were kidnapped, torched and murdered and thousands were forced to leave their communities to seek refuge in neighbouring towns. Five Local Government Areas; Dutsinma, Jibia, Batsari, Safana and some parts of Kankaraare worst affected and partially under siege.
Testimonies to these atrocities abound without respite. One of the residents of Jibia, Kamilu Idris told THISDAY of 5th January 2020, “We witnessed several attacks in Shinfidda, Gurbi, Mallamawa, Farfaru and Daddara in the last one week. They usually hold AK-47 rifles and offensive weapons and circled the villages so that nobody would escape. They started attacking the villagers in their houses and shooting sporadically at some of us who were trying to escape. They killed some people and kidnapped others.” What is the Masari government doing to arrest the situation?
The Special Adviser to Governor Masari on Security Matters, Mr Ibrahim Katsina, was quoted by THISDAY as saying, “We are involving community-based approach in order to end the resurgence of the bandits. I can assure you that with the measures we put in place, very soon banditry will be history in the state”. This statement was said four months ago and since then the attacks and killings continued sporadically unabated resulting in losses of hundreds of lives and unquantifiable properties. In a single day, on Saturday, 18th April 2020, bandits killed 47 people as officially reported by the police. Pulse (https://www.pulse.ng/news/local/how-bandits-killed-47-in-katsina/96wfg5j), an online Newspaper quoted police statement indicating “There were reports of organised and simultaneous attacks in villages in Danmusa, Dutsinma and Safana by groups of armed bandits, detachments of Police, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Air force, Civil Defense and DSS (Department of State Services) have been drafted to the area”.
A few days earlier to this incident, 23 people were killed in Tsauwa village and 10 people in Dankar villages well as burnt down several houses, animals and properties worth millions.https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/02/bandits-attack-katsina-villages-kill-33/.
Desperations and hopelessness made leaders of these communities cry out, members of State House of Assembly debated and faulted the ongoing peace deal entered with bandits because of the terrifying increase in banditry activities. The security agencies may be doing their best, which is not good enough to tackle the situation.
The peace accord with bandits is like a creation of Frankenstein Monster, which will end up consuming the creators. Banditry is a high level of criminality and the bandits are highly skilful in deceit. One wonder, why in the first place, such crass display of helplessness called “signing of Peace Accord” with bandits? Was the Masari government powerless in dealing with bandits and had to pacify them through the signing of an accord and releasing some of them from detention?
Well, the accord is not working. Governor Masari must take up full responsibilities of ensuring peace and security of people who massively voted him into power in 2015 and 2019. Security must be the number one agenda of Masari’s governance until Katsina people can sleep with their eyes closed. Masari’s government may be helpless in addressing the issue of banditry. He needs to acquire more support from the Federal mite. The ball is in your court President Buhari, this is your cardinal responsibility to the nation; maintenance of peace and security. Allah (SWA), we need your Devine intervention.