Agaju Madugba, Katsina
A policeman was killed at the weekend when some 300 bandits ambushed a team of security personnel responding to distress calls from communities in Kankara local government area of Katsina State.
According to the Commissioner of Police, Sanusi Buba, an unspecified number of bandits were equally killed while four policemen sustained varying degrees of injuries in the process.
Briefing reporters on Tuesday evening on the arrest of kidnapping and armed robbery syndicates in the area, Buba described the encounter with the bandits as ‘fierce’ and hailed what he called the gallantry of the policemen at the Dan-Sabau community of Kankara.
He explained that the bandits had attacked a number of communities in the area when the villagers contacted the police.
According to Buba, “the incident was very unfortunate. My men were responding to distress calls from the villagers and the policemen were ambushed by well over 300 armed bandits, riding on over 200 motorcycles.
“There was a fierce battle that lasted for over an hour and several of the bandits were killed. A policeman lost his life while four others sustained injuries.”
The police in collaboration with other security agencies have in recent times sustained their efforts at ridding the state of armed banditry prevalent around communities in about eight out of the 34 local government areas.
According to the police “in a couple of weeks to come, there will be no hiding place for any bandits. They should either surrender or face the consequences.”
The murderous activities of kidnappers and bandits had reached a level that Governor Aminu Bello Masari described the state as being under siege.
He had used the occasion of his inauguration for a second term in office on May 29, to further lament the development. According to Masari, “as we are all aware, the state has of recent witnessed disturbing resurgence of incidences of armed banditry and kidnapping for ransom, more prevalent especially in the frontline local government areas bordering the Rugu forest, despite the government’s continued unflinching logistics support to the security agencies in the state.
“Our towns and villages in those areas have become prone to a new dimension of armed bandits attacks, leading to the killing and maiming of innocent citizens, carting away of their foodstuff and burning down other belongings of economic value including houses, vehicles, shops and traditional silo.”
Last week, the Nigerian Army said through the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 8 Division, Sokoto, Brigadier-Gen. Abdulkarim Oladapo Otiki, that it had designed fresh strategies to combat banditry ravaging parts of the north-west zone of the country.
The local government areas described as frontline locations collectively said to be a haven for bandits and cattle rustlers, in Katsina state are, Jibia, Batsari, Safana, Dan-Musa, Faskari, Sabuwa, Dandume, Kankara and parts of Kafur.
Parts of communities in these areas share boundaries with the dreaded Rugu forest, reported to stretch from the neighbouring Republic of Niger to parts of Katsina, Zamfara and Kaduna states.