Food Crisis Looms as Banditry Resurfaces in Katsina

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Aminu-Bello-Masari

By Francis Sardauna

The resurgence of nefarious activities by bandits and kidnappers in Katsina State if not promptly nipped in the bud by security agencies and state government, would stoke unprecedented food crisis in the state, farmers have warned.

The bloodletting orchestrated by the bandits who refused to accept the state government’s peace accord, the farmers said, would not only lead to food scarcity and hunger, but would have grave economic implications on the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari had granted amnesty to bandits after a tour to Fulani settlements and strong enclaves of the bandits in Rugu Forest on September 4-9, 2019, during which the bandits and their forest commanders denounced banditry.

The rapprochement saw significant reduction in massive attacks on the state’s rural communities. But the resurgence of the banditry, observers said might not be unconnected to how some of the repentant bandits refused to surrender their weapons after the peace deal.

The farmers who expressed concern about the activities of the hoodlums in separate interviews with THISDAY yesterday, said there was no way the state would not experience food scarcity because farmers were running away from their farms due to persisting attacks.

They berated the state government over what they termed untimely deaths of their colleagues, insisting that between January and May 2020 alone, over 73 innocent farmers had been massacred in Dutsin-Ma, Kankara, Danmusa, Faskari, Safana, Sabuwa and Batsari Local Government Areas.

One of the farmers, Murtala Sani Kankara said there would be a great shortage of food produce in the state because most farmers could not currently access their farms.

He said: “We supposed to clear our farms now for this year’s cropping season but nothing has been done because of constant attacks by armed bandits. For your information, between January and may this year, the bandits killed over 73 farmers in Dutsin-Ma, Danmusa and Safana local governments alone.

“Some of us who survived the attacks are now taking refuge in our relatives’ houses in Katsina, Kankara and Dutsin-Ma towns. We do not know when we will return home and start farming”.

Another farmer, Rabi’u Abdulkardir said: “Serious food crisis is imminent in Katsina State because farmers cannot access their farms. There will not be much farming activities in major parts of the state this year.

“Hundreds of farmers have been killed and thousands of communities have been destroyed by these bandits but yet Governor Masari is busy fighting Coronavirus instead of bandits’ virus that is finishing us.

He stated that the rate at which the bandits committed these crimes had increased exponentially and that the crimes were thwarting the state’s economic development to an enormous extent.

On his part, Usman Sarki called on federal and state governments to adopt proactive measures that would end bloodbath in the state, saying if nothing is done, it might result to scarcity of food items and famine.

He explained that the deadly attacks had scared farmers away from their farms, adding that many farms had been abandoned as a result of fear of being killed or abducted by the men of the underworld.

Governor Masari in a chat with the Chief of Defence Training and Operations, Defence Headquarters, Maj. Gen. Leo Irabor, who paid him a courtesy call in Katsina, described the rising spate of banditry and kidnapping bedeviling local farmers in the state as disturbing and worrisome.

He said farmers in communities bordering the deadly Rugu forest have become targets of armed bandits and kidnappers, saying the bandits killed over 50 persons in the last 14 days.

“We are in a very serious and desperate condition. As the raining season approached, even those who can access their farms cannot because of the activities of bandits who have now taken over major parts of the state,” the governor added.