*Says 200 others kidnapped
By Deji Elumoye
Governor Sani Bello of Niger state has expressed concern over the recurring dastardly acts of bandits in some parts of the state saying the terrorists within two weeks attacked some communities 50 times resulting in the death of 300 people.
He also said that during the same period 200 people including security personnel were kidnapped.
His words: “In January this year alone, we suffered not less than 50 reported attacks and loss of lives, between 1st and 17th January. Within the same period, not less than 300 communities have been invaded by bandits.
“The number of people kidnapped is 200, including three Chinese nationals. We also lost some security personnel. Their number is 25. Unfortunately, we lost about 165 civilians and 30 local vigilantes.
“So, it’s a very dire situation that we have been battling in the last few weeks since the beginning of this year”.
Speaking with newsmen on Tuesday after briefing President Muhamadu Buhari on the security situation in Niger state, the governor said the state is facing serious serious problem.
Bello gave a breakdown of the attacks and their consequences on lives in the state while blaming the low response time to the attacks on the lack of access roads to the communities.
He, however, expressed optimism that with the new measures being put in place, the security situation in Niger state should improve soon.
Bello stressed the need for the contiguous states to work together to stop the terrorists from moving from one to another
According to him: “I came to visit Mr President to give him an update on the security situation in Niger State with regard to banditry activities, kidnapping, and cattle rustling among others.
“We had a very fruitful discussion. We were able to review some of the invasions in the state.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you all.
“In the last few days, there have seen a lot of activities in Niger State. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, we see some relief with regard to banditry.
“I also gave an highlight on some of the challenges. Of course, our size is a disadvantage, almost nine million hectares. We lost some forests.
“But I’m very optimistic with the kind of zeal I have seen from our security agencies and all services. I’m very optimistic that the situation will be addressed. And hopefully, we should get a very peaceful state within the shortest possible time.
“But there is still a lot of work to do. We share borders with Kaduna, Zamfara, and Kebbi States. And these bandits have the habit of hibernating between forests, moving from Zamfara to Kebbi, and Kebbi to Niger.
“They take advantage of the cattle routes which they already know. They move on motorcycles. And most the areas and communities they attack have no access roads. So, you cannot drive there. So, our response time is slow.
“But going forward, there will be new strategies which I earlier mentioned. It will help us. But I can’t disclose some of those strategies. But basically, the States of Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi would have to work together to address the situation.
“What I realize is that they have been taking us on a merry-go-round. When we deal with them in Niger, they move to Kaduna. When Kaduna deals with them, they move to Katsina. They have been hibernating in the forest. Some of these operatios need to be handled simultaneously so that we get the result.
“We are not happy and we are sad with the developments in these states. We are doing whatever we can, using kinetic and non kinetic efforts to see that we address the present situation. As we go on, we will try to update you from time to time on progress being made in this fight.”