By Francis Sardauna in Katsina
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, on Monday pledged to support the Katsina State government to end banditry, kidnappings and other nefarious crimes orchestrated by bandits in the state.
He said the dialogue and peace initiative of the Governor Aminu Bello Masari led-administration, which brought the two warring groups to a roundtable, was a great feat that will lead to everlasting peace in the state.
This is coming as repentant bandits in the state have released 10 more kidnapped victims, bringing the number of those who regained their freedom from the abductors to 61.
The speaker was speaking at the Government House, Katsina, while on a one-day working visit to ascertain the security challenges in the state in order to seek lasting solutions to the ugly trend bedevilling the state.
He said the National Assembly would ensure that the federal government develops a workable plan that would end banditry and kidnapping in Katsina and other states facing the same challenge.
“The state cannot deal with an issue like this on its own. Issues like these are complicated and very complex and we believe the federal government must do something to assist the state in ending this nagging problem.
“As a National Assembly, beyond all the motions that we move on the floor of the House when these issues happened, we will support you and federal government to put an end to this problem.
“Your members who represent Katsina in the House have been so proactive and passionate about what is going on here. We pray and hope that we will be able to complement what you are doing to find a lasting solution to this nagging problem of insecurity,” Gbajabiamila said.
Responding, Governor Masari said the peace initiative of his administration was yielding fruitful results as 61 kidnapped victims had been released by their abductors without collecting any ransom.
“Even yesterday (Sunday), 11 people were brought back from their abductors from Batsari Local Government and in the early hours of this morning (Monday), we took five. We are following events in Batsari and we are able to locate where the problem is coming from,” he said.
The governor lamented that herdsmen were been neglected by government at all levels, hence the reoccurring of herders/farmers clashes and other forms of criminality facing the country.
According to him, “This has been systematic. There have been supports to farmers and other occupations but there was never a single programme that was designed to address the issue of Fulani herdsmen.
“They were left in the forest uneducated both Islamically and western education. And the grazing reserve areas are been abandoned and overtaken by farmers. By 1987 when the state was created, the population was about 3.7 million. Today we are talking about either between 7 to 7.5 million.
“We must have a rehabilitation programme on how to make the forests conducive for people who live in it. What we are trying to do now is to normalize the situation and start addressing the fundamentals because unless you normalize the issue, the area will not be peaceful enough for you to do anything.”
He urged the opposition whom he said were out to blackmail the All Progressives Congress (APC) government to desist from making inflammatory statements that could truncate the federal and state governments’ efforts in tackling insecurity.
“I urged all the people especially those in the opposition who think this is an opportunity to bash the government either at federal, state or local level to stop. What Nigeria is facing now is beyond party affiliation. We should operate as a people and a nation,” he added.
Meanwhile, during the one-day working visit, the speaker also received 10 freed captives from repentant bandits as part of the ongoing dialogue between them and state government.