Barely 24 hours after Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima convened a State security council meeting to discuss the deteriorating security situation in Borno State, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, on Wednesday 02 January, raised alarm saying his State was under security siege and that “no one, not even myself iis safe”.
Masari, a first term governor seeking re-election under the president’s ruling All Progressives Party on March 2, said kidnapping, armed robbery, banditry and cattle rustling are now the order of the day in his State
In late December, Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, in a desperate plea expressed support for an unusual step of declaring a state of emergency on his State. Zamfara since the coming of Buhari administration had witnessed an unrelenting spike in cattle rustling, clashes between warring factions and communities and kidnapping defying all interventions even military.
Speaking after an extraordinary security meeting in Katsina Wednesday in which top government functionaries, security chiefs and traditional leaders from the worst hit eight local governments areas, bordering Zamfara State and other selected local government areas attended, Gov Masari said “Today (yesterday), reports I received from security agencies are all about threat of kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry.
“No one, not even myself, is safe. So, this is the situation and that is why we are here to find a way out, which is a must. There is no option because we are thinking of the survival of our people and state.
“It is now a daily occurrence as no day passes without a case recorded. It is not even rustling of cows but now kidnapping of people.
“Our state is currently under serious siege by armed robbers, kidnappers and armed bandits who arrest rural people at the grassroots at will and demand ransom, which if not paid, they kill their victims.
“The Permanent Secretary was just informing me that his close relative was kidnapped and a ransom of
N5 million was demanded and the person who took the money to them was shot.
“Some people visited me, and as they left, they were trailed and robbed of their belongings. The armed robbers could not go away with the vehicle because it has security lock on it.
“In the past, they carried out their activities in the middle of the night, but now, they operate at midnight, 10pm and gradually in broad day light.
“It is not up to a month, right here in front of Government House, five electricity poles were carted away. It is getting out of hand that we should not fold our arms. Let’s return to God, let’s pray to Him to salvage the situation. So we must reach a lasting solution at this meeting to curtail this ugly trend.
“The citizens are on daily basis being harassed by bandits and kidnappers that are on rampage in the state.
“The Katsina government organised this one-day joint security and stakeholders meeting to proffer solutions to the state’s current insecurity challenge. “The people of Katsina in the 34 local governments now sleep with one eye closed and the other opened.
“Our state is in a dangerous situation. Travelers are afraid of being stopped on the highway and arrested by kidnappers who demand ransom.”
Although there is a general consensus not to politicize the terrifying security situation, opposition parties are already hinting at it as a sign of failure for a Buhari administration which kicked out the last government on its promise to “secure the nation and manage if efficiently”.
Pastor Reno Omokri, wondered “If President Buhari cannot secure his home State, Katsina, how can protect the whole country”.
Buhari Sends Defense Minister To The Northeast
Faced with a barrage of deteriorating reports, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday 02 January sent of Mansur Dan Ali, Defense Minister to the northeast and eventually to the sub-region to the governments of the Lake Chad Commission.
In Maiduguri, Dan Ali had a marathon meeting with service chiefs at the Theatre Command Centre, Maimalari Cantonment, Maiduguri. He told journalists after the meeting that he was in the theatre to get first hand information on the security situation on orders of the president. He said he was leaving immediately to N’Djamena, Chad, to seek bilateral cooperation with government and security forces in the border country to find an end to the Boko Haram insurgency.
“I was instructed by President Muhammadu Buhari to come and find out what happened and what needs to be done from the commanders.
“I have been briefed by the field commanders and the Chief of Army staff has added his own. I will take home to the President all the recommendations and briefings done by each commander here.
“I was directed to visit Chad on the same mission. Right now, I am proceeding to Chad on the instruction of Mr. President,” Dan-Ali said.
Situation Remains Dire
Reports for the region speak of a rather escalating situation with the sacking of Nigerian troops from Baga town of Kukawa Local Government Area. Maiduguri Christmas holiday makers are unable to easily return from the southern parts of Borno State as the Maiduguri-Damaturu-Biu had been shut due to continued attacks.
The military continues to call for cooperation of Nigerians, saying it will return peace and security to the troubled communities before the elections.