Agaju Madugba, Katsina
Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari, speaking at the weekend on the rise in bandit activities in the state, said: ‘I am a very unhappy person because we have never had any moment of respite within the last five years that the leadership of this state can describe as comfortable.’
At least 70 persons have been killed within the last two weeks alone in separate attacks by bandits across a number of communities in the state.
Governor Masari, who spoke at the weekend during an interactive session with reporters at the Government House, said in regard to the victims: ‘I don’t know what to tell them. I cannot look at them in the face because we have failed to protect them, contrary to our pledge to ensure the security of lives and property throughout the state.’
He said that the government had done everything possible, including opening a dialogue with the bandits, in order to address the security crisis in the state.
‘I never expected the behaviour and the attitude of the people living in the forests, the bandits, whose behaviour is worse than that of animals.
‘In the forest, a lion or a tiger kills only when it is hungry and it doesn’t kill all the animals, it only kills the one it can eat at a time.
‘But what we see here is that the bandits come to town, spray bullets, kill indiscriminately for no purpose and no reasons whatsoever like the recent massacre of the people at Faskari and parts of Dandume local government areas. They just killed the people.
‘How can a human being behave the way that an animal cannot even behave.
‘That is why I say that they are worse than the animals in the forest. For me, there are no longer innocent persons in the forests.
‘Our role in this is to complement the efforts of the security agencies for which I believe we are doing nothing less than 90 per cent in terms of whatever is expected of us, based on resources available to us.’
According to Masari, ‘under the Exclusive List in the Constitution, security is the responsibility of the Federal Government.
‘Five years ago when this government came to power, it met Boko Haram and Niger Delta problems, cattle rustling.
‘Even members of the Armed Forces have limited capacity in terms of the equipment available to them and the money given to them.
‘The military and the police do not have the numbers and they don’t have the manpower and equipment required for them to operate in all the troubled spots which cut across all geo-political zones of the country.
‘Banditry cuts across the whole of the north though it does not affect Jigawa so much.
‘We entered into various phases of dialogue with the bandits, on the prompting of the security agencies.
‘By the time we completed, we reached an agreement on so many solutions.
‘I thank God that even if we were not able to meet their demands 100 per cent, we were able to meet up with between 70 and 80 per cent.
‘The ensuring peace did not last for more than seven months then it broke down again and that is the position we are in at the moment.
‘Five years ago when this government came in, it met Boko Haram as there were Boko Haram attacks in Kankara and Daura towns.
‘At that time, government was also grappling with cattle rustling and killings were on a daily basis.
‘The resources dwindled and with high state of insecurity and the people hoped that the new government then would solve all those problems.
‘Some people felt that we had the capacity to even perform miracles.
‘We had cattle rustling but we were able to achieve relative peace for about two years then came kidnapping and banditry resurfaced.’
The Katsina governor noted that he has no intention of seeking any elective positions at the expiration of his second term tenure.
‘As far as my plans are concerned, I have no intention of contesting any elective office after this tenure.
‘I am not retiring to the Senate and God willing, by 2023, I will be 73 years old and it will be time for me to give the opportunity to the younger ones behind me,’ he said.