John Adams, Minna
The Government of Niger State has raised the alarm that ongoing military operations in Katsina, Zamfara and parts of Kaduna have placed the state at the receiving end fleeing bandits.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ahmed Matene, stated this when he featured on Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) programme Good Morning Nigeria to discuss the emerging security challenge and the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Secretary to the State Government pointed out that though the state has long been facing the security challenges of banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling, the situation has escalated in the last four weeks.
He said the recent escalation is as a result of the ongoing military actions in surrounding states, causing the bandits to migrated into the state.
Alhaji Matene disclosed that four of the 25 local government areas have become vulnerable to the bandit attacks, including Shiroro, Munya, Rafi and Mariga.
‘These are local government areas that borders Kaduna, Zamfara and Kebbi states. So, when there is military actions in these states, they usually move to Niger to find safe haven, and that has been the tradition,’ the government official said.
‘Again, the massive forest that we have in Niger have largely contributed to this. They use this forest as their hideout.’
While calling for a setting up of a military base to secure vulnerable areas, he maintained that ‘the bandits usually have a route which they follow from Zamfara or from Kaduna all the way to Niger communities.’
Though commending the security agencies for their efforts in the fight against the bandits, he nonetheless pointed out a lack of coordination among the affected states remains the major obstacle to winning the war against the bandits.
‘I must say that the security agencies have been doing their best and the government has been very supportive, but we have found some weaknesses and lack of coordination amongst the adjoining states as an obstacle to winning the war.
‘We really need to be coordinated in our action. If we are taking military action against the bandits in Zamfara or Kaduna, we should take the same actions in Niger, Katsina and other affected states so that they will not have a place to hide.’
Alh Matene pointed out that the need for coordinated action is very important, saying the bandits are highly coordinated and have sophisticated weapons and good communication channels.
‘Because of the type of weapons at their disposal, they are so confident that they sometimes go into these communities in broad daylight to carry out the attacks,’ he said.
He acknowledged that the bandits are also taking advantage of the fact that the security agents are overstretched at the moment, particularly in regard to their deployment to enforce the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
‘That is why the attacks have escalated in recent times, especially since the COVID-19 [crisis] started. But all these notwithstanding, the government will continue to provide the necessary support to the security agents to enable them to scale up their operations against these bandits.’