Fred Itua, Abuja
Over 5,000 Nigerians in troubled parts of Sokoto State have relocated to the Republic of Nigér following increased bandit attacks on local communities, Senator Ibrahim Gobir has revealed.
The senator made the revelation on Tuesday when he contributed to a motion on the floor of the Senate.
His revelation stunned the Senate. He said the people of the Sokoto State are now at the mercy of Nigérien Soldiers for protection against armed bandits, saying the Nigerian Army has completely abandoned the target areas.
The development has promoted the Senate to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the military for an immediate expansion of their operations against banditry from Katsina and Zamfara to Sokoto and Niger States.
According to Senator Gobir, within the last three months, no less than 300 people in Sokoto East Senatorial District have either been killed or kidnapped by the rampaging armed bandits on a daily basis.
‘The situation in Sokoto East as far as armed banditry is concerned is pathetic and tragic because it is only Nigérien Army that have been coming to their rescue while the Nigerian Army looks the other way,’ the senator said.
‘In fact, based on very reliable and verifiable information from the area, many at times [when] the people of the affected areas called on Nigerian Army for help and protection against the bandits, [there is] no response.
‘But graciously, the Nigérien Army has been assisting in warding off the bandits, the very reason why not less than 5,000 people in the affected areas have migrated to the Nigér Republic for safety,’ he said.
He lamented further that besides the 300 people who have fallen victim to banditry attacks in the area through kidnapping or outright killing, hundreds of cows and other animals have been rusted by the bandits, estimating the worth of the losses at about N2.5 billion.
‘The fallout of this is grinding poverty ravaging the affected people in the form of serious hunger since their cows and other animals are on a daily basis being stolen…
‘The situation is so bad that we only get help from the Nigér Republic and not from Nigeria at all, be it from the military or the police.
‘The affected people cannot perpetually be at the mercy of Nigérien Soldiers and still be expected to proudly see themselves as Nigerians.
‘Very urgent drastic action is required from President Buhari through the military in the form of expansion of anti-banditry operations currently being carried out in Zamfara and Katsina State to Sokoto State,’ the senator from Sokoto recommended.
Senator Sabi Abdullahi had in the motion anchored on orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules lamented the daily incidences of armed banditry in Niger State, saying the situation required urgent intervention from President Buhari.
Though the Senate in its resolution commended the president for the ongoing anti-banditry operations in Katsina and Zamfara States, it called on him to urgently expand the exercise in Sokoto and Niger States in order to stem the tide of the ugly situations there.
In his remarks, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said that the security challenges, though enormous, are surmountable.
‘Nigeria is definitely up to the task and Mr President will deploy the military to the areas for restoration of sanity as gradually being witnessed in Zamfara and Katsina States,’ he assured.