Banditry, Kidnapping Displace 25,988 in Katsina

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•Farmers flee their settlements, farmlands

Gboyega Akinsanmi and Francis Sardauna in Katsina

No fewer than 25,988 residents have been displaced from their ancestral roots and base of their economic activities due to the activities of armed bandits and kidnapers in different parts of Katsina State, statistics from the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) have revealed.

Likewise, the rising spate of armed attacks, at least in eight local government areas of the state, has forced a good number of farmers to flee their settlements and farmlands, citing hundreds of their colleagues who have lost their lives to banditry and kidnapping in the state.

THISDAY exclusively obtained the statistics of internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the weekend from Katsina’s emergency agency, which showed that between January and May, the activities of armed bandits and kidnappers had displaced 25,988, at least in eight local government areas (LGAs).

As shown in the statistics, the agency classified eight LGAs as flashpoint of armed bandits and kidnappers, thereby depicting Katsina State as danger zones where banditry and kidnapping were prevalent and rampant.

Specifically, the statistics revealed that 1,707 persons were displaced in Katsina LGA; 18,544 in Batsari LGA; 135 in Kurfi LGA; 1,440 in Faskari LGA; 2,426 in Kankara LGA; 513 in Danmusa LGA; 616 IN Jibia LGA and 607 in Safana LGA.

In a telephone conversation yesterday, the Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Alhaji Umar Ya’u urged the federal government to deploy more security personnel to farmlands to protect his members against attack by armed bandits in the state.

He said the call was imperative to protect farmers now that some of them had started returning to their farms after armed attacks, noting that proactive measures were necessary to encourage farmers to cultivate their lands during the farming season.

According to him, we are calling for deployment of military and other security personnel to protect farmers in the fields. We are making preparations for cropping activities but attack by the bandits in some communities is a source of worry to farmers.

He explained that the bandits “have launched several attacks on farmers in the state, forcing most of them to abandon their farmlands. But now that normalcy has been restored in some parts of the state.

There is need for government to provide adequate security to farmers who have started cultivating their farmlands.”

“Many farmers were attacked and killed during the dry season activity in various farming villages in the outskirt of Katsina and other local government areas. We are asking the federal government to provide us modern preservation technologies to enhance processing and reduction in damage to agricultural produce.

The chairman lamented that the lack of such technologies “often make crop and perishable produce cultivation less attractive. Without modern technologies, such produce cannot be preserved for a longer period of time.

Meanwhile, the Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari had lamented the grave consequence of armed banditry in Katsina State, urging the federal government to end banditry and kidnapping now before it consumed the country.

She had expressed the concern after distributing food stuffs and empowerment materials to IDPs in Katsina penultimate Saturday.

She had on this ground charged all security agencies to come up with strategies to end the carnage in the state and other part of the federation.

She said the security situation of the country if unchecked “will affect the economic growth of the nation. What we have seen here is beyond the strength of a state. We are not supposed to be here giving rice, milk and others items to victims of an incident during Ramadan period.

“This is a state where we got 1. 2 million votes free of charge. It is not proper for us to give highest number of votes during the general elections and allow bandits continue killing people and keep quiet,” Aisha Buhari said.

She commended the security agencies for their efforts in curtailing the scenario in other parts of the country while charging them to rekindle their efforts in order to avert the carnage in Katsina.

According to her, the security agents should either assist to take action or allow the situation continues until bandits finished killing our people. The sad aspect of it is that women are more vulnerable to the deadly attacks.

Also, the wife of the Katsina State Governor, Dr. Hadiza Masari had called on federal government and security personnel “to tackle banditry and other heinous crimes facing the state. We have over 20,000 person displaced from their homes, which means they are not farming.

“It also means their children are no longer in schools and their livelihoods are totally destroyed and their homes are burnt down. We have people from 28 villages in Batsari LGA to collect assistance. This is very unfortunate, we call on federal government to rise up to the challenge and put a stop to it.”