Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Francis Sardauna in Katsina
President Muhammadu Buhari has told Nigerians displaced as a result of banditry and insurgency that the federal government is doing everything humanely possible to end the menace bedeviling the North-west region and other parts of the country.
He said wednesday when he visited Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State that the federal government under his leadership would ensure that the displaced persons return to their ancestral homes.
The local government, according to recent statistics released by the Katsina State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), has 15,415 displaced persons, mostly women and children.
“We sleep and wake up in sadness about the activities of the bandits; by God’s grace we are going to use the military, police and other government officials to end the bandits’ activities in Nigeria. We are doing our best. I came to sympathise with you and to urge you to be patient and to intensify prayers
“To those who are killing people in the North-west in the name of Allah, you cannot put a bomb or a gun in your body to go and kill innocent persons and call the name of Allah. It is either you did not believed in Allah or you don’t know the meaning of what you are saying,” the president said.
He commended the Katsina State Government for the support it has given to the displaced persons, assuring it that the federal government would soon come to the aid of the state.
Earlier, the Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Masari, had said communities bordering the deadly Rugu Forest across the eight frontline local government areas of the state had been facing recurring incidents of banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling.
He said: “In worst circumstances, the criminals’ attacks were accompanied with wanton destruction through burning of foodstuff stores, vehicles and houses, breakage and theft of valuable items in provision stores. Occasionally also, some of the victims were shot and killed by the bandits.”
Masari, however, said the state government, with the assistance of security agencies, was able to dismantled the activities of the hoodlums through the establishment of its Dialogue/Amnesty programme.
He added that the recent deployment of additional security personnel and equipment in the affected local governments had drastically reduced the attacks by the miscreants “but there are still sporadic attacks with attendant kidnap and cattle rustling incidents”.
According to him, the state government has provided relief materials and foodstuffs to victims of the attacks across the eight frontline local government areas of the state as part of palliative measures to cushion their sufferings.
In addition, the state government has so far provided 6,961 bags of assorted grains and beans; 1,320 cartons of noodles/spaghetti; 1,490 jerrycans of oil; 2,210 mattress/mats; 1,810 brocade/wrappers and 2,320 bags of sugar and salt to the victims.
Also, Emir of Katsina, Dr. Abdulmumini Kabir Usman, called on the people of the affected communities to shun reprisal and report suspicious movements or persons to security agencies for prompt intervention.
While admonishing Nigerians to avoid inflammatory statements against their political and traditional leaders, the traditional ruler said the only remedy for the current security challenges bedeviling the country was prayer.
Also yesterday, the president Buhari inaugurated a 32-kilometre road constructed by the Katsina State Government to boost transportation and alleviate the sufferings of farmers in the state.
The Shinkafi-Yandaki-Gafia-Abdallawa-Dankaba road, which was awarded in October 2017 and completed in April this year, would cater for 15 communities in Katsina and Kaita local government areas of the state.
Buhari, at the occasion, said: “The roads are the major means of transportation in Katsina State. We all know that the economy of Katsina State is agrarian; our wealth is farming and livestock rearing, hence the need to open it up through and across all communities.
“Tomorrow (Thursday) by the grace of almighty Allah, I will be commissioning two other road projects, comprising Fago-Katsayal-Kwasarawa-Jirdede-Koza road of 30 km and Kwanar Sakbke-Sabke-Dan Aunni-Dutsi road, which is 20km here in Katsina State.”
Earlier, Masari had said his administration had completed 13 inherited road projects while 44 others were at various stages of competition.
He said: “The construction of the 32-km-road has cost the state government N3,362,292,219.25. Similarly, the 38km Fargo-Katsayal-Kwasarawa-Jirdede-Koza road and 22km Kwanar Sabke-Dan’aunai- Ruwan Kaya road cost N1,909,827,028.49 and N2,601,552,756.77 respectively”.
Last night, the presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement also said Buhari told the IDPs that the federal government was fully aware of the plight of citizens and would remain focused on its mandate to secure the lives of citizens.
The statement quoted him as saying, “I am very sad that the consequences of these actions have brought hardship and affected the socio-economic life of our people in the localities. Agriculture, which is the mainstay of the economy and source of livelihood, is worse affected.
“I would like to assure you that the federal government is fully aware of your situation as I receive daily reports from security agencies and the Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, who personally visited and briefed me on the killings and wanton destruction by the armed bandits not only in Katsina but in other states as well.
“Let me assure all and sundry that the protection of lives and property of the citizenry is the prime essence of government. We shall be focused and determined to protect our citizens.’’
According to the statement, Buhari said insecurity had assumed a disturbing dimension globally, noting that only local, sub-regional and regional alliances could curb the spread of violence.