Shola Oyeyipo, Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Francis Sardauna in Katsina
Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Masari, has urged security chiefs to come up with measures to end the killings and kidnapping going on in his state.
The governor said the deadly attacks, if unchecked, would hamper the state’s economic growth and trigger off a food crisis by the end of this year’s farming season.
He spoke in Katsina when he received a team set up by the Nigeria Army, led by Maj. Gen B I Ahanotu, to assess the recent attacks on communities in Batsari, Faskari and Danmusa Local Government Areas.
The team was set up on the order of President Muhammadu Buhari who had directed the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu and the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, to constitute an assessment team to intervene on the security challenges facing the state.
The team is also to find out how the attacks were carried out by the bandits and put structures in place to avert future occurrence.
The governor, represented by his deputy, Mannir Yakubu, said the state government had done its best to tame the criminals through the introduction of amnesty programme.
However, he expressed regrets that such measures could not address the banditry; hence the outcry for help from the military to end the orgy of killings in the state.
He attributed the persistent killings and abduction in the state to the porous nature of the country’s borders, adding that the insecurity facing states such as Zamfara and Kaduna has jeopardised the relative peace being enjoyed in Katsina previously.
According to Masari, “Even before this administration came on board, there were cases of herdsmen and farmers clashes. But when we came in, we did our best to tame it by introducing the amnesty programme and as of that time the situation stopped.
“Unfortunately, banditry and kidnapping surfaced. The latest was the very sad incident that happened in Batsari where dead bodies were brought to Government House and the emir’s palace.
“There is certainly a great need to bring peace to the state. Raining season is already on and our people need to go back to their farms. If we did not get them back to the farm by the end of this year, there will be food crisis.
“So, I hope this assessment will be done as soon as possible to bring peace back to the state. Prompt action should be taken to ensure that peace is restored in Katsina State.”
He assured the delegation that the state government would continue to support the security agencies with equipment and funds to boost their operations.
Earlier, Ahanotu had informed the governor that his team was in the state to ascertain circumstances surrounding the recent attacks on some communities.
He said the team after its assessment, would put in place proactive measures to end banditry in the state.
Bandits had attacked some communities in the state, killing no fewer than 34 persons and injuring many others.
The bandits invaded Mara Zamfarawa village in Danmusa LGA; Sabon-Layin Galadima community of Faskari LGA and Yar’Gamji village of Batsari LGA, shooting sporadically.
Hundreds of youths from Batsari LGA had marched on the Government House, Katsina and the palace of the Emir of Katsina with 18 of the bodies of the victims.
They protested what they described as persistent killings of residents in the area by bandits.
The banditry in the state forced the government yesterday to announce the cancellation of all activities lined up for the inauguration of a new administration in the state.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Mustapha Inuwa, said in a statement that the decision was to commiserate with the families and victims of the recent attacks.
“The attacks have led to the death of many people and left many others injured and homeless. To this end, all activities that are usually organised for the event have been cancelled, except the mandatory.
According to him, only the swearing-in of the governor and his deputy, as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), will hold on May 29.
Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Oppose Plans to Set up ‘Herdsmen Radio’
Meanwhile, leaders from the southern and Middle Belt parts of Nigeria under the umbrella of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), have expressed reservations over a plan by the federal government to establish a Fulani language-speaking radio station.
The body, in a statement by Yinka Odumakin (South-west), Prof Chigozie Ogbu (South-east), Senator Bassey Henahaw (Sout-south) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), said setting up the radio station would amount to impunity.
“The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum received with rude shock the in-your-face impunity of the Buhari-led government announcement of plan to set up an AM Radio Station for Fulani herdsmen to broadcast in Fulfude.
“It smacks of hypocrisy and deception for a government that has in the last four years denied responsibility on behalf of the Fulani herdsmen for crimes they even owned up to, to now tell us it wants to set up a radio for them to address the same issues.
“Section 55 of the 1999 Constitution recognises English, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo as languages in which the official business of the National Assembly can be conducted. There was no mention of Fulani, which is not a language most northerners even understand.
“Why this sudden promotion of a language? Will it also set up radio stations for the officially recognised languages and the over 250 languages spoken in different parts of Nigeria?
“We fear seriously that the proposed radio will become a weapon of spreading hate propaganda against other nationalities in Nigeria given the kid gloves treatment with which the Buhari administration has handled the killings of thousands of Nigerians in the last four years.
“We are guided by the genocide-aiding role radio played in inciting ordinary citizens to take part in the massacre of Tutsis and moderate Hutus during the Rwandan Genocide,” SMBLF stated.
The leaders said the federal government setting up a radio for herdsmen would threaten national unity.
ISWAP Kills 20 Nigerian Soldiers
In a related development, the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) Thursday claimed it killed 20 Nigerian soldiers in Gubio, Borno State.
A security source and a humanitarian worker, both requesting anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to media, said insurgents struck the northeastern town of Gubio on Monday evening, in vehicles mounted with heavy machine guns and on motorbikes.
The insurgents and soldiers exchanged fire for more than an hour before the army withdrew, said the humanitarian worker, who counted the corpses of more than 15 soldiers.
A Nigerian military spokesman said he would send a comment on the Islamic State claim, but at the time of writing had not.
Efforts made to reach Army Spokesman, Col Sagir Musa, were unsuccessful as he neither picked his calls nor replied text messages sent to his phone.
Nigeria has said the terror group, and its rival Boko Haram, are on the back foot, as the sides engage in a battle of propaganda to show who has the upper hand in the decade-long conflict.
The war has killed more than 30,000 people and displaced millions more.
The Islamic State said in its claim of responsibility, translated into English and published by SITE Intelligence, that its fighters had attacked an army barracks and killed 20 soldiers in Gubio on Monday.
In a separate video also released on Wednesday, Islamic State West Africa showed the execution of nine Nigerian soldiers. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the video.
Before their executions, the soldiers identified themselves by their military service numbers, units and names. Some said where and when they had been captured. For others, it was not immediately clear.
The video also showed Islamic State fighters pledging allegiance to the group’s leader Abubakr al-Baghdadi, along with artillery, tanks and boats it said it had captured from the military and attacks on Nigerian military bases.