How Masari is tackling insecurity in Katsina

Despite the huge financial burden coupled with the need to handle other areas of needs, Katsina state government is investing heavily on providing security for citizens of the state. This is aside other measures to bring banditry to an end in the state. HAMIDU SABO reports.

Having several communities in your territory surrounded by a bandit-infested forest with dare-devil heavily armed men moving on rampage from one village to another, over-running communities, looting property and killing, maiming and abducting locals is enough reason to drive any state governor into despair.
This is especially when the constitution renders you a mere spectator in matters of security, but your territory is under a siege.
But such is the sorry state of affairs for most state governments that have large parcels of forest territory harbouring armed bandits, kidnappers, gun runners, armed robbers and terrorists within their territories.

While some of the state governments are in a war of words with the bandits, others have surrendered to their fate. In some situations, others are applauding the security agencies that are engaging the bandits.

The story of Katsina

In Katsina state, the story is quite different. Interestingly, Governor Aminu Bello Masari has, somewhat in defiance of the constitutional road blocks, taken several self-help initiatives to fight-off the terrorists on rampage. From 2015, the state government and its local governments opened a security escrow account from which they complimented the sundry expenditure of security agencies by providing them with a logistics support that range from hilux jeeps, other operational vehicles and a wide range of hardware incentives.

It also injected monetary commitments into most of the security operations launched by the police and the military from 2016 to date which include ‘Operation Hadarin Daji’, ‘Operation Sharan Daji’ and the police force’s ‘Operation Puff Ader’.
While these efforts were being made on one hand, the state government was engaging the bandits in non-kinetic approaches on the other hand by mopping up weapons in their possession and systematically disarming and reintegrating them back to society through the amnesty programme that was implemented that kicked out on two occasions.

However, the latest move by the governor is the big deal. While Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) cost a fortune to obtain which is a whooping N150 million, Governor Masari engaged a private hardware manufacturer who produced 10 Nigerian-made APCs at a fair cost, each to be deployed to one of the frontline local government areas which are Batsari, Jibia, Safana, Danmusa, Dustsinma, Kurfi, Kankara, Sabuwa, Faskari and Dandume.

Masari’s charge to security agencies

While handing over the APCs to the military command in the state, the governor said it was one of the many efforts to motivate security agencies to take the war to the bandits in their camps. He was of the views that the best way to rid the state of armed bandits and kidnappers is by being on the offensive rather than being defensive or reactionary. This has also been the argument of most security analysts who watch with dismay as some segments of the security operatives wait on the bandits to attack before they will repel the attack.
Masari said, “The 10 APCs are in addition to what the army and the police provided. I wish to inform you that in Katsina state, we now have over 30 APCs. I have also met with the Inspector-General of Police and he has also given us two additional APCs; they are now under repairs in Kaduna. we would pay for the repair and bring them here.”

Moreso, the governor explained that there is also another company in Kaduna that has given its quotation to the state government as it now considers the quotation with a view to procuring more APCs to send more to all the bandit flashpoints in the state. He assured the communities in and around the Rugu forest that the state government would do all within its available resources to bring an end to banditry which has had its toll on lives and property in the state.

Masari noted that the state government is doing everything possible to provide relief for people affected by bandits’ attacks across the state. He added that the state was collaborating with the federal government to provide succour for those affected by insurgency. The governor commended security operatives in the state for their efforts and prompt responses to distress calls.

Curiously, the governor observed that with such incentives, the response time by security agencies during distress calls has greatly reduced.
“The response time by the security agencies has improved compared to what it was before now. If we continue in this direction, with the support of the people, we are going to win the war.

“Our biggest problem now is the connivance by informants that expose targets. Any abduction or kidnap these days is the work of an informer. The general public needs to be more alert in identifying these bad eggs in our societies and report them to appropriate authorities. We would continue with our efforts and we would win, God willing; there is no doubt about it, we would win, we would overcome,” he prayed
“Certainly it is a very challenging time and the government and security operatives are equal to the task of dealing with the situation.”

Collaboration with traditional rulers

He said the state government has made amendments to some laws pertaining to Local Government Administration to give more role for traditional and leaders who are well-abreast with their communities and their people and are in a better position to keep vigilance in matters of security.

Meanwhile, despite the latest move of donating APCs to security agencies, Governor Masari has still stressed the need for communities to also make conscious efforts to defend themselves against the bandits. Several times he had cited with dismay how a group of 30 bandits could dislodge a community of over three thousand people without any form of resistance.

It is believed that collaborative efforts between state governments, the federal government, the traditional institutions and communities is the only panacea to the current wave of insecurity that has also taken countless lives, destroyed several property and impoverished many families. Therefore it must not be allowed any chance to further destroy the local, regional and national economy.