Francis Sardauna in Katsina
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday 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 state Governor, Aminu Bello Masari-led administration, which brought together the two warring groups to a round table, were great feats that would lead to everlasting peace in the state.
This is coming as repentant bandits in the state released 10 more kidnapped victims, bringing the number of those who regained freedom from the abductors to 61.
The Speaker stated this at the Government House in Katsina while on a one-day working visit to ascertain the security problems in the state in order to seek lasting solutions to the ugly threat bedeviling the state.
Gbajabiamila said the National Assembly would ensure that the federal government develops a workable plan that would end banditry and kidnapping in the state as well as other states facing the same impediment.
According to him, “A state cannot deal with issue like this on its own. Issues like this are complicated, and we believe that 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 being 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 these nagging security challenges.”
While responding, the governor said the peace initiative of his administration was yielding fruitful results as 61 kidnapped victims have being released by their abductors without collecting a dime as ransom.
He said: “Even yesterday (Sunday), 11 people were brought back from their abductors from Batsari Local Government Area, and this morning (Monday), we also took five people. We are following events in Batsari, and we are able to locate where the problem is coming from.
Masari lamented that herdsmen were being neglected by the government at all levels, hence the reoccurring of herders-farmers clashes and other forms of criminalities facing the country.
According to the governor, “This has been systematic. There have been supports for farmers and other professions, but there was never a single programme designed to address the issue of Fulani herdsmen.
“They were left in the forest uneducated both in Islam and Western education. And the grazing reserved areas are being abandoned and overtaken over by farmers. By 1987 when the state was created, the population was about 3.7 million, but today, we are talking about either between 7 and 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 normalise the situation, and start addressing the fundamentals because unless you normalise the issue, the area will not be peaceful enough for any development.”
He urged opposition, whom he said were out to blackmail the All Progressives Congress (APC) government, to desist from making inflammatory statements that would 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 House Speaker also received 10 freed captives from the repentant bandits as part of the ongoing dialogue between them and the state government.