Residents of villages hit by bandits in Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state, have expressed their frustration with the incessant attacks by bandits who have made their lives a nightmare in the past weeks.
Thousands have been rendered homeless as a result of the attacks.
A community leader from one of the affected communities, who does not want his name mentioned, told SaharaReporters that the police shunned their calls for help when the bandits struck, adding that troops from Niger Republic came in to help the villagers.
The source said, “Our people are in dilemma. They are handicapped, marginalized and some of them think they are not part of Nigeria.
“Before the deployment of the military in Katsina, when there was an attack in a nearby village and we called the police, they don’t come. It is military personnel from Niger Republic that came to assist the people to fight the bandits.”
Katsina is bordered by the Republic of Niger to the north. Locals claim the bandits usually come from Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna, and even from neighbouring countries like Niger Republic, Mali and Burkina Faso.
The Nigerian government had deployed troops to combat bandit attacks and related violent activities in the northwest state but reports of killings have become common.
Two days ago, armed bandits killed at least 18 people, including a local official, and stole thousands of livestock; two witnesses and a police spokesman told Reuters.
The eyewitnesses said as many as 500 men riding motorcycles, some brandishing assault rifles, charged into the Faskari local government area on Sunday afternoon.
“At least 18 persons were confirmed killed by now and many others were suspected to be killed,” local resident Isma’ila Ya’u told Reuters by telephone.
Narrating the frustration of the residents to SaharaReporters, the community leaders said, “Ten years to come, the people will struggle to recover from the attacks. A lot of people were killed, kidnapped; young ladies were raped including married and non-married. No compensation or assistance from the government.
“Majority of the bandits have left the bushes and relocated to their houses. It is necessary and very important to get an intelligence gathering, to find their hideout and fish them out.
“Many people lost almost everything. Before, when they attacked, they kidnapped and rustled cows but this time they went beyond that. They took away clothes, utensils and foods they met in the houses.
On what the government should do, the source said, “This is a very easy task if the government is serious. The government should equip the security agencies. The police and military don’t have the sophisticated weapon that these people have so the government should equip the military and give them necessary machinery, provide jets for fighting them and necessary allowances.
“The government should launch an attack from the air and the ground. One to three months is okay for the government to finish all these. Someone once said for an insurgency to last for more than 24-hours, there must be a hand of government in it, so if the government is serious, the insurgency will become history.
"The government should work and liaise directly with traditional institutions, religious leaders, and people within the society. The president asked the people to go back to the farm, but with insecurity, farmers can’t go to the farm.
“The government should train volunteers and vigilantes as farm guard to assist in ensuring security in our society. If people are guaranteed their safety, they would go to their farms because they know that if they go, these bandits would not come back to attack them.”