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9 out of 34 local government areas in Katsina now under bandits’ control – Masari

The security threats in Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state, are getting worse as nine out of the state’s 34 local government areas are currently under the control of bandits.

Aminu Masari, governor of Katsina State, said although efforts were on to bring the cases of banditry to an end, activities of bandits were posing serious drawbacks to the government’s agricultural plans.

Masari stated this on Wednesday while speaking with State House Correspondents in Abuja after he met behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Certainly, there is going to be some issues, because in the entire state, the nine local governments are affected out of 34,” Masari said.

The governor said his government was making efforts to free some affected villages and areas bordering the forests, adding, however, that “there is going to be some drawbacks in some of the areas”.

The state has been under serious security threats following persistent attacks by bandits, despite assurances by government that it would not allow the situation to escalate.

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The governor stressed that although the rainy season has set in and can pose a challenge to the fight against bandits, the government was determined to conquer them.

“You know, the North-Western and North-Central parts of the country where these bandits are is a vast forest area and unfriendly terrain, so especially now during the rainy season, moving with heavy military equipment can be very challenging because the soil is soft and the rains are heavy but it is doable. No situation is impossible especially to a willing and determined mind, so I do believe that we can conquer these bandits and stop them from hibernating into something else,” he said.

Masari assured that government is determined to contain the situation.

“Currently the military are in Katsina for their annual super camp, so over 2,000 of them are gathered in Katsina in order to really send a signal to the bandits that the military is ready and willing and they have the capacity to deal with the situation.

“The hope is that the military including the police and other security agencies have been given a marching order by the president to control the situation by all means and it is a task that must be done because we cannot allow the situation in the North-West to develop to a worrisome stage like it is in the North-East,” he said.

The Katsina State governor said people living in the rural communities would testify that actions are on-going and the displaced persons are being well taken care of.

He noted that state governments in the affected areas are waiting for the military to take total control of the forests and other affected areas before they can roll out their good plans for the people affected by banditry.

“First of all, in the aspect of non-kinetic measures, what we are waiting for is for the military to take total control of the land areas then the state and local governments will now move in; especially in the area of education, access and water supply then their means of livelihood, which is mainly agriculture and livestock.

“For us in Katsina, we have concluded all our designs but we cannot safely get access to where we can make reservations in terms of earth dams, we have already earmarked 30 areas in which we are going to reconstruct all the earth dams that are broken down and construct some that are new in order to provide watering points and again, we are reintroducing grazing points but as it is today, we cannot access the land.

“We have partners that are willing to join hands with us bit we have to get the land back in peace because nobody will go and invest where security is not very tight but with the current military operation going on, I am sure before the end of this rainy season we will have a very conducive atmosphere and free area that people can go back to their normal life,” he said.

The governor said criminal activities would not affect agricultural activities in Katsina State, adding that both government and farmers are expecting a bumper harvest this year.

He also said he was in the State House to bring Eid-El Kabir greetings to President Buhari, one of their own, on behalf of all citizens of Katsina, since due to the COVID-19 pandemic the president could not travel home for the Sallah festivities as he does every year.

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