The Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, on Wednesday, warned that bandits could take advantage of the transition period to launch bloody attacks in the country.
He, therefore, advised that security operations against bandits should be increased in the remaining days of the current administration and beyond.
El-Rufai spoke during the presentation of a security report by the Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House, Kaduna, the state capital on Wednesday.
The reviewed 2022 annual and first quarter 2023 security reports indicated that 1,266 and 4,973 persons were killed and kidnapped respectively in 15 months.
However, there have been increased attacks by suspected terrorists and bandits in Benue, Zamfara, and Niger since after the general elections.
In the past weeks, no fewer than 75 persons, including internally displaced persons had been murdered in different communities by armed herdsmen in Benue State.
Also in Zamfara in March, bandits attacked the headquarters of the Maru Local Government, killing a divisional police officer and two others.
Scores of people including security operatives had equally been killed across several communities in Niger State by suspected bandits.
Speaking on the security reports presented by the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, El-Rufai called for sustained simultaneous ground and air kinetic actions across the seven frontline states of the North-West zone and Niger which had contiguous forest ranges and is most heavily impacted by the security challenge.
He said the operation was to prevent a dangerous lull during the transition period at the federal level which the criminal outlaws could exploit.
The governor observed that the reports on the security situation in the state provided detailed data on the persistence of the security challenges in the state.
El-Rufai said, “Though grim, these reports are published in fulfilment of the obligation of transparency that the government owes the residents of this state.
“Just as they have a right to updates on the progress in investments, revenue generation and other happy events, citizens have legitimate expectations to be provided with consistently accurate accounts of what is going on and on the measures being taken to address security challenges.
“The two reports just presented by Samuel Aruwan, our Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, indicate the persistence of security challenges, including terrorism, banditry, and the unfortunate toll in killings, kidnappings, injuries and threats to the livelihoods of our people.
“We regret the pain and losses, pray for the repose of the souls of those killed, pay tribute to the victims of various crimes and reiterate our solidarity with them.’’
Speaking further, he noted, “As the statistics presented show, there has been some slight year-on-year improvement in fatalities and other incidences of criminality across the state between 2021 and 2022. We hope that with your combined efforts, this downward trend will continue towards zero in the shortest possible time.
“The Kaduna State Government does its level best to prevent these sad events through institutional measures and pragmatic actions on the ground.
“These measures include persistent pressures on the Federal Government to launch comprehensive and sustained military operations against the terrorists and criminal elements that are menacing our people and their lives, liberty and livelihoods.
“We note with gratitude that the military initiated offensive security operations against the bandits in the last half of 2022. As observed earlier, this helped to improve the security situation in many of our communities but these operations must obviously be widened and sustained as the most effective way to protect our people and uphold law and order.”
El-Rufai thanked the Federal Government for finally authorising the launch of the combined military and police offensives.
He also commended the military and security forces for their efforts and sacrifices as they work to uproot the criminals.
The governor said, ‘’I wish to stress that in this region, this vital mission requires a comprehensive and consistent sweep across the North-West and Niger states for sustained success.
“We appeal for an escalation of security operations over the 39 days remaining till the end of the tenure of this administration and beyond so that the change of baton at the federal level does not result in a dangerous lull that criminal outlaws can exploit.
“There is every reason to intensify and sustain simultaneous ground and air kinetic actions across the seven frontline states of the North-West region and Niger which have continuous and contiguous forest ranges and are most heavily impacted by this security challenge.
“On our part, the Kaduna State Government will continue to do everything within the powers of a state to enhance security. We have invested considerable resources and energy in managing security to the extent that the Constitution of our nation permits a sub-national.
“Our interventions since 2015 include supporting the federal security agencies deployed in our state with vehicles and other logistics, collaborating with other frontline states to fund military operations in the 2015-2016 period and investments in security infrastructure and technology.’’
The governor expressed gratitude to the security agencies, particularly the Army, Air Force, Navy, Police, Civil Defence, Department of State Services and others for constant collaboration with the state’s Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs in the hard work of securing the state.
In a related development, the police in Benue State on Wednesday paraded nine suspected cattle rustlers in connection with the recent killings in three communities in the Apa, Otukpo and Guma Local Government Areas of the state.
The series of attacks on Igbobi, Umogidi and Mgban communities claimed no fewer than 130 lives with many displaced.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Catherine Anene, while parading the suspects said they ‘specialised in rustling cattle that fuelled killings in the state.’
Anene said, “In recent times, the investigation into herder/farmer conflict in most local governments revealed that some hoodlums from both the herders and farms clans have been fuelling crises in these areas for their own gains. There is a need to identify these criminal elements and deal with them in accordance with the laws.
“On 10/4/2020 at about 1700hrs, men of Operation Zenda JTF on patrol in the Guma Local Government Area intercepted and arrested one Terwase Nyion, aka Orjen, and three others while others fled from the scene.
“On 16/4/2023 at about 1700hrs, information was received that some hoodlums had attacked herders grazing in the Tarkaa Local Government Area and made away with some cattle.
“Police detectives in the area immediately stormed their hideout and arrested the following persons: Terdoo Tyo, Meryima Dziegh, Jimeshio Dziegh, Tahar Dziegh and Mercy Iyio, who was already preparing cow meat in the kitchen.”
The PPRO said the investigation revealed that the syndicate usually conspired with criminal herders to rustle cattle, sell and share the proceeds.
“They go back to the same victims (herders) to deceive them that their cattle were rustled by farmers so as to create crises and have more opportunity to loot from innocent persons,’’ she added.
The police spokesperson added that the items recovered from the gang included one locally-made pistol loaded with one round of 9mm live ammunition and four cows, adding “the suspects confessed to be a vicious syndicate made up of herders and farmers.”
While calling on herders and farmers to promptly report such cases to the police, Anene said the Commissioner of Police in the state, Wale Abass, condemned the mischievous act that instigated crises in some areas of the state.