The Katsina State Debacle

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RingTrue with Yemi Adebowale, yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 08054699539 (text only)

Ring true
Phone number 08054699539
Email: yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com

Political leaders and security agents in Katsina State now act as if massacre is a normal occurrence. Bloodbath is no longer a big deal here. Human lives do not matter. Whenever scores of people are killed in the unending war between Fulani herders and Hausa farmers over grazing land, the unfeeling political leaders and security agents simply do some showboating and life goes on. Attackers are hardly prosecuted. This is the level this state has degenerated; it is in a big mess compounded by politicians and security agents that have refused to act impassively.

Political leaders and security agents know who the killers are but for almost six years, they have failed to act decisively. They know that bandits are Fulani militias fighting for herders that want unfettered access to farm lands. They know that herders often call the militias when they suffer casualties. These leaders know that Hausa farmers also have their militias called Yan Sakai. They know that Yan Sakai retaliates for Hausa farmers when their farm lands are destroyed and farmers killed. They know all these but care less. So, the killings go on.

There is hardly any week that huge human blood is not shed in Katsina State. Just 10 days ago, residents of Diskiru and Unguwar Baki in Dandume and Faskari local government areas were bombarded by these bandits. 29 people were slaughtered in the two farming communities, with scores of houses set ablaze, leaving the villagers in despair. Those killed in Diskiru were mostly women, children and the aged. A large number of women and children were also abducted. Residents of Diskiru and Unguwar Baki are still mourning as I pen this piece. The tears here would probably never dry.

The Katsina State Police Command confirmed the killings but gave a lower figure. That’s what security agents in this state do regularly. So, where were policemen before and during the attacks? Where were the soldiers and Air force personnel deployed in the state? Have they arrested any of the Diskiru and Unguwar Baki killers, 10 days after the massacre? Any government interested in ending these killings must insist on answers to these pertinent questions. Unfortunately, they don’t do these. It was annoying seeing the Katsina police last Thursday parade just one suspect, Idi Dila, as being responsible for the attack in Diskiru and Kadsau, where many were killed.

The Katsina State Government and the government at the centre are hardly perturbed that thousands have been sent to early graves in this state. Daily, the Katsina killers are getting stronger. Survivors of the Diskiru and Unguwar Baki attacks confirmed that over 200 terrorists stormed the villages on motorcycles and were armed with sophisticated weapons for the October 29 killings. This tells how robust the bandits are in Katsina State. There are thousands of them across the state. That was why they spent over three hours in Diskiru and Unguwar Baki unhindered, moving from house to house, killing, abducting and stealing cows, sheep and other valuables.

The list of gruesome killings in Katsina in the last five years is frightening. Local government areas like Jibia, Safana, Tsafe, Batsari, Dutsinma, Faskari, and Dandume have been turned to killing fields. Many will never forget how scores of people were killed in Tsauwa and Dankar villages (Batsari Local Government) early this year. Back in February, 21 persons were killed in Gurbi, in Kankara Local Government Area. Early October, 11 suspected bandits were killed in Wurma, Kurfi Local Government Area, by Yan Sakai.
Where does Governor Aminu Masari stand in all of these killings? This governor is a big letdown. He did not even bother to pay a condolence visit to Diskiru and Unguwar Baki.

What a governor! As a leader, Masari has refused to dispassionately respond to the endless killings. I am convinced that he is tacitly supporting Fulani militias. This was why his hopeless amnesty programme for bandits failed. I was shocked when Fulani militias killed scores in Tsauwa and Dankar villages (Batsari Local Government Area) last February, and all Masari could say, from the comfort of his office, was that two Fulanis were earlier killed in the communities and that the Fulanis simply retaliated. This governor needs to be reminded that those who kill innocent people are as guilty as those who retaliate. Masari, after massive criticism, grudgingly paid a condolence visit to the traumatised residents of Tsauwa and Dankar.

Last Wednesday, Masari was at his best, as usual, showboating when security agencies brought two supposed repentant bandit commanders to him from Illela village in Safana Local Government. He charged the security agencies to be ruthless with the bandits, meaning he knew they had been slipshod all along. The two bandit leaders, Sale Turwa and Muhammed Maidaji, were also granted amnesty by the governor, as if the previous ones granted amnesty renounced violence. Turwa and Maidaji should be on trial, not meeting with Masari. If the killers in Katsina are consistently arrested and put on trial, it would have sent a strong signal to all the warring factions that government is serious about ending the crisis. But it does not happen. I fear it may never happen. This governor has to raise his game and end tacit support for Fulani militias. The killings by the so-called bandits will persist for a very long time if political leaders and security agents continue to act in support of a faction.

Katsina is our President’s state. So, how has President Buhari fared in stopping the Katsina killings? He has failed woefully here too in terms of security of lives and property. Even when his community’s Magajin Garin Daura, Alhaji Musa Umar Uba was abducted, it took almost three months to rescue him. The conflict was minimal prior to Buhari’s emergence as President. But immediately he became President, the Fulani herders were bolstered, because “our brother is now in charge,” and the drive for unencumbered access to farm lands assumed a frightening dimension.

After the Tsauwa and Dankar killings, Buhari was busy analysing the “retaliation”, saying the killings were done in reprisal for what the farmers had earlier done to the bandits. He said bandits had been subjected to jungle justice by the affected communities, causing the miscreants to return to the places to wreak havoc. If justice had been served to the killers in the first place, there would probably be no retaliatory killings in these troubled communities. I have not heard of a single bandit convicted in Katsina State since this crisis escalated. The Katsina State chapter of the Coalition of Northern Groups was apt when it said the Buhari government had failed the state and the country in general for not protecting the lives and property of citizens.

The group, in a communiqué issued after a recent meeting in Katsina, that discussed renewed banditry attacks, killings, and kidnappings in the state said: “The government’s attempts to reassert public confidence with repeated rhetoric of being on top of the situation seem to be worsening as killings and kidnapping for ransom have become a daily occurrence in most parts of the state.” The communiqué, co-signed by the group’s chairman, Jamiu Charanchi, and the secretary, Abubakar Kabir, demanded a review of the entire national security architecture and the Katsina State Security Committee in order to inject higher levels of competence, integrity, and accountability.

It’s so sad that thousands of lives have been lost on both sides of the divide in Katsina. The killings continue unabated. Those in the position to end the Katsina debacle have been irresponsible and insensitive. This is the truth that must be told. They should be ashamed of the endless killings. I will like to see a dispassionate commitment to ending these killings. Killers must be apprehended and punished, while victims should be appropriately compensated. A pragmatic and result-oriented military operation must take off immediately; not this jaundiced “operation Sahel Security”. The herders looking for unfettered access to farm lands must be firmly told that this is intolerable. For peace to reign, herders must be compelled to cuddle ranching. Masari should provide technical and financial support to the herders to settle in the ranches.

Pro-Gay Comments By Pope Francis Still Echoing
I have spent quality time reading The Vatican’s so-called clarification of Pope Francis’ position on gays. The explanation simply further confirmed the Pope’s soft spot for these weird creatures. The Pope had in a documentary “Francesco” by Russian-born director Evgeny Afineevsky, which debuted in Rome 18 days ago, voiced support for “same-sex civil unions.” I wonder what that means.

Speaking in the film about pastoral outreach and care for people who identify as LGBTQ, the pontiff said: “Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.” Pope Francis added in the documentary that he “stood up for that”, apparently referring to his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires when, although opposing same-sex marriages in law, he supported some legal protections for same-sex couples. The film also shows him encouraging two gay men to attend church with their three children.

The Vatican clarified that Pope’s comments were taken out of context and did not signal a change in doctrine by the Catholic Church. It explained further that the film spliced parts of an old interview. It said the Pope was speaking about his opposition to a same-sex marriage law in Argentina 10 years ago when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires; that he spoke about the rights of gays to have certain legal protection, but not about same-sex marriage; that Pope Francis was referring to certain provisions made by states, and certainly not to the doctrine of the Church, which he has reaffirmed numerous times over the years.

These clarifications cannot obliterate the fact that the Pope tacitly supports LGBTQ, particularly by saying that they are children of God and deserve legal protection. I thought, according to the bible, LGBTQ are evil and belong to the devil. The Vatican even clarified that the Pope said a son or daughter with a homosexual orientation should never be discriminated against within the family. For me, Pope Francis has given the body of Christ a new definition of “Children of God,” which is not according to the Bible. Children of God cannot include LGBTQ. This is unacceptable. Those opposed to the will of God cannot be called children of God. That’s my little understanding of the Bible. Canvassing legal protection for LGBTQ is ungodly. Encouraging them to attend church services is heresy. Honestly, I believe Pope Francis should just step aside in the interest of Christianity. Thereafter, he should go and set up an NGO to fight for the rights LGBTQ. He can’t be doing that within the precincts of the Vatican.

Absentee Governo
Mai Mala Buni
I knew governance will suffer in Yobe State immediately Governor Mai Mala Buni took the job of Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress. These days, you will hardly find him in Damaturu. Buni is always in Abuja. Obviously, there is no way these two jobs can be combined. They are both tasking. Project Yobe is now suffering because Buni is spending more time on project APC. Huge files are on Buni’s table in Damaturu waiting for his attention. The Yobe APC stakeholders were right to demand this governor’s impeachment because of his “unavailability in the state to discharge his constitutional duties as governor.”

The Chairman, Yobe APC Stakeholders, Hussain Muhammad, said: “Buni has abandoned the state and only visits once in a month. It has become expedient to draw the attention of the public, especially the state House of Assembly, to the aberration of having a governor who is non-functional. Buni was not elected as APC’s Acting National Chairman, but as Yobe State governor and he swore to obey the constitution. It is our position that he had become a self-serving governor, who failed and betrayed his people when they needed him the most.

“As stakeholders, we have made both individual and collective efforts at letting Mai Mala Buni realise his mistakes, but it appears that as we inch closer to making him realise, he digs in further into his sit-tight plans at the party’s national secretariat. We, therefore, call on the Yobe State House of Assembly to begin impeachment process if he fails to resign as governor.”

These Yobe stakeholders are making sense. Buni should return to Yobe and face his constitutional duties. He should tell the APC to look for another person to pilot its affairs. This is clearly not a job for an incumbent governor.