By Francis Sardauna
The Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, at the weekend revealed that the peace accord his administration signed with the rampaging bandits terrorizing the state lasted for only seven months.
Irked by the collapse of the peace deal, he said the state government would no longer negotiate with the bandits because they had breached the agreement between them and government.
Masari, who was speaking in an interactive session with journalists at the Government House, lamented the resurgence of banditry and kidnapping in the state despite the peace accord.
Two peace deals were separately signed by the state government under the leadership of Governor Masari and the bandits. The first was on January 15, 2017 that lasted for two years, while the second took place between 4 and 9 September, 2019.
The agreement saw significant reduction in attacks on the state’s rural communities. But the recent resurgence in banditry attacks on Faskari, Batsari, Sabuwa, Danmusa, Dutsin-Ma, Kankara, Kurfi and Safana Local Government Areas have claimed more than 200 lives.
The fresh onslaught has forced thousands of residents of the affected local governments, who survived the deadly invasions, to flee their ancestral homes to the headquarters of the council areas including Katsina, the state capital.
Masari, at the interactive session, reiterated the role of the state government’s resolve to complement the efforts of security agencies to flush out the hoodlums rather than negotiating with them.
He said: “We entered into various phases of dialogue with the bandits on the prompting of the security agencies. By the time we completed, we reached an agreement on so many solutions.
“Even if we were not able to meet their demands 100 per cent, we were able to meet up with between 70 and 80 per cent.
“But the peace accord from my records, did not last for more than six to seven months, then it broke down again and that is the position we are in at the moment.”
The governor described the marauding bandits as being worse than wild animals in the forest, saying they kill indiscriminately without any purpose or reasons.
According to him, “In the forest, a lion or a tiger kills only when it is hungry and it doesn’t kill all the animals, it only kills the one it can eat at a time.
“But what we see here is that the bandits come to town, spray bullets, kill indiscriminately for no purpose and no reasons. How can a human being behave the way that an animal cannot even behave. That is why I say that they are worse than the animals in the forest. For me, there are no longer innocent persons in the forests.”
Masari said despite the peace agreement entered, the bandits, in coordinated attacks with their accomplices from Zamfara, Kaduna and other neighboring states, have continued with indiscriminate killings across the state.
He however said the military and police do not have adequate manpower and equipment required to operate in all the troubled spots across the six geo-political zones of the country.
“Even members of the Armed Forces have limited capacity in terms of the equipment available to them and the money given to them,” Masari added.
The governor said under the Exclusive List as enshrined in the constitution, security is the sole responsibility of the federal government, adding that: “We provide 90 per cent in terms of whatever is expected of us, based on resources available to us.”