Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina has said that bandits kidnapping schoolchildren for ransom, killing civilians and security operatives are nothing but wild animals.
“Bandits behave worse than animals in view of the atrocities they perpetrate; people need to protect themselves,” said Mr Masari. “Police and other security personnel are inadequate, so we shall not wait for those barbaric bandits to maim and kill people at random.”
The governor stated this on Wednesday in Sokoto when he led a delegation of the North-West Governors Forum on a condolence visit to Governor Aminu Tambuwal over the killing of 23 travellers in the state by bandits on December 6.
According to him, states in the North-West face similar challenges, adding that the governors are collaborating to tackle the bandits.
“We shall confront them and deal with them the way they are supposed to be dealt with,” vowed the Katsina governor whose previous alliances and sympathies for the murderous bandits had not helped to stem the criminals’ atrocious attacks.
Mr Masari added, “It is no longer a blame game. Rather we shall shun political differences to support authorities on containing the situation.”
Meanwhile, Mr Tambuwal has advised President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime to train and convert the state’s indigenes into special forces that will launch a clearance operation against bandits.
Mr Tambuwal explained that recruiting locals in areas affected by bandit’s attacks to complement efforts of mainstream security operatives would end violent attacks in the North-West.
“The recruited persons shall serve as special forces equipped with (the) right skills and modern firearms to confront bandits since the locals know the terrains,” said the Sokoto governor. “After the special mission, the recruited persons could be re-engaged as forest guards to prevent new security challenges.”
Speaking further, Mr Tambuwal noted that in Sokoto, “we outlawed the self-styled vanguards referred as ‘Yansakai’ whose activities of extrajudicial killings led to reprisals and escalation of the situation.”
According to the governor, the Sokoto government is training “legitimate” vigilance groups teamed with mainstream security operatives to support the fight against bandits.
“All hands must be on deck to check banditry and to support President Buhari at all levels to contain the situation,” Mr Tambuwal added. “This situation calls for specialised approach with holistic support from community groups, religious leaders and other individuals to tackle.”
He urged residents to expose people supporting bandits, especially informants, in Sokoto.
Mr Tambuwal commended the governors’ forum for the solidarity visit and the donation of N50 million to support affected families.