Francis Sardauna in Katsina
Barely 48 hours to the Saturday’s rescheduled presidential and National Assembly elections, bandits have sacked 10 communities, forcing over 2,000 residents to relocate from their ancestral homes in Batsari Local Government Area (LGA) of Katsina State.
The affected communities are Tudun Garin-Yara, Kwandatso, Garin Labo, Shigi, Sabon-Garin Dunburan, Garin Dodo, Inwala, Madattai, Sabon-Garin Shigi and Kasai.
Our correspondent who visited Batsari Modern Primary School where the victims, mostly women and children, were relocated, gathered that the crisis started last Sunday in Kasai community but later spread to other nine villages between Monday and Wednesday, rendering thousands of residents homeless.
The attack, which claimed seven lives, including an army captain, also led to the abduction of many women and children who were declared missing after the invasion.
One of the victims, Inatu Labo who could not control her tears while speaking to THISDAY at the camp, said: “We were asleep when the well-armed bandits numbering about hundreds attacked us. They killed some of our villagers and went away with our animals.”
Conducting THISDAY round the 12 classrooms occupied by the displaced persons, the Council Director of Education and Social Services, Kabir Abba Umar, said government had provided some palliatives in form of food items and sleeping materials to the displaced people.
“We have activated the temporary camps with profiling of the affected persons, and health personnel have been deployed to the camp. The local government has provided water tank, mats, blankets and buckets.
“As of yesterday, we registered more than 2,000 Internally Displayed Persons (IDPs) in this temporary camp and more are trooping in today. The displaced persons trek from their ancestral homes, which are about 10 to 15 kilometres away from Batsari.
“The local government area has also directed that provision of other requirements for camp operation should be giving to the displaced persons immediately”, he explained.
The last invasion by the bandits was coming barely one week after Governor Aminu Bello Masari’s visit to Kasai, a community where the attack was prominent, and called for harmonious co-existence among the residents.
Meanwhile, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Jibril Ibrahim Zarewa, has also confirmed that the issue of insecurity in some parts of the state has escalated as a result of “spill-over” of the crisis in neighbouring Kaduna and Zamfara States.
“In all, we have concerns in nine LGAs namely, Jibia, Batsari, Kurfi, Safana, Kankara, Faskari, Dandume, Danmusa, and Sabuwa. The predominant problems are kidnapping, cattle rustling and robbery.
“The wards and number of polling units affected have been identified. Elections require peaceful and tranquil atmosphere. A concrete approach has therefore, become necessary in order to ensure peaceful and hitch-free election, and we believe that the security agencies are on top of the situation”, Zarewa said.
Briefing journalists yesterday ahead of the Saturday’s polls, the state Commissioner of Police, Sanusi Buba, said the command has made adequate security provision to safeguard the lives and property of the citizens in the nine frontline LGAs of the state.
“There will be total restriction of movement of persons and vehicles from 6.00 a.m – 6 a.m on Saturday, February 16, 2019. No movement will be allowed until the elections are over,” he added.
The state police chief, said the police and other security personnel will be conducting robust patrols to ensure compliance of the orders.
He said: “This is to checkmate the menace of those who may use that day to move around with dangerous weapons or carry thugs from one place to another. We have arranged adequately to handle this kind of situation with decisive professional skills.
“As a matter of fact, we have been having series of activities by night Marauders and cattle rustlers around that Batsari axis. In fact, I directed that armoured personnel vehicles should be redeployed to Batsari and Safana so that the activities of these hoodlums who are frightening people in the areas would be checkmated.
He added that the command was not aware of the setting up of any IDPs camp in the state but confirmed that there have being series of activities by “night marauders” and cattle rustlers around that Batsari axis.