Some residents of Kankara Town have confirmed that few weeks before the Government Science Secondary School (GSSS) abduction, some prominent residents of the town relocated to other places, noting that bandits were seen on motorcycles entering neighbouring communities and transacting business in markets, Daily Trust Saturday reports.
The recent abduction of over 300 students from GSSS Kankara has made the Katsina town infamous.
However, what many do not know is that residents of the town have been living in fear of bandits that many prominent indegenes have fled their homes before the attack on December 11.
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It was also alleged that armed bandits were often seen riding into town to transact business in markets and mingle with locals.
Some residents who spoke with Daily Trust in confidence confirmed that a sizable number of residents, especially those who were well to do, relocated to other cities for their safety and that of their families.
A resident who pleaded anonymity confirmed that, “certainly that was the situation before the GSSS attack.
“Most of the wealthy individuals and their families relocated to Malumfashi, Funtua, Katsina and Kano.
“Though few others remained in the town.”
On the issue of bandits mingling with residents in broad daylight, our source said it happened only in the villages and hamlets under Kankara, and not within the town.
He explained that, “Those who are known to be among the bandits don’t dare come into the town even empty handed, let alone with weapons.
“The moment they are identified, they will be arrested and handed over to the security agencies, and they know that, so they don’t come into the town at all.”
Corroborating the above position, another resident said it was true that many prominent residents relocated to other places for fear of a possible attack.
“When I say prominent people, I don’t mean only businessmen or wealthy individuals; even some traditional title holders and some political leaders, as well as other public office holders have kept their distance from Kankara.
“Some of them come only occasionally and leave immediately after they are done with what brought them.
“For instance, the member representing us in the House of Assembly could spend months without visiting the town.
“Similarly, some traditional title holders who were born and bred in Kankara have now deserted the town; they come occasionally.”
The source added that for over two weeks before the GSSS attack, the bandits went unchallenged from one village to another on a daily basis, killing people and robbing them.
“For instance, a day before the Kankara attack, the bandits raided Yar Kuka village, killed about 10 people and kidnapped others,” he said.
He, however, said the residents did not totally blame those who left because their safety and security were not guaranteed, and hence they could not risk living in the town, alleging that in the villages under Kankara, where the gunmen were seen roaming with their weapons, there was a kind of understanding between the bandits and the villagers that they (bandits) would not harm them as long as they did not make any attempt to expose them.
“There was a time some of our friends went to one of those villages for a wedding ceremony and there they saw the gunmen carrying their weapons,” he said.
Another resident of Kanakara, Sani Radda, said, “The issue with all sense of honesty is that no one who has the means to migrate to a safer place will want to remain in constant fear and anxiety.
“If I have the means I will move my family away from this danger zone.”
When contacted, the member representing Kankara in the House of Assembly, Hon. Garba Ya’u, said the allegation that he had deserted the town was untrue, adding however that as a member of the state assembly, which was in Katsina City “you don’t expect to see me in Kankara all the time.
“Up until today, my family is in Kankara, in addition to other friends and relatives, so how do you expect me to desert the place?
“Some of those alleging that we don’t go there would want to see us every day, which is not possible.
“Others want to see you just for their personal reasons, and if they don’t see you, they raise all sorts of allegations.
“It is true that for security reasons, one will not expose himself to danger, because as we all know, some of the bandits work closely with informants who are living in the town and the moment they sight you, they begin to make calls that you are around.
“So, for that reason, sometimes we have to restrict our movements, but those who we work with know that I do go to Kankara and we do whatever we can to settle issues.”
He added that as a lawmaker, he discharges his responsibilities by tabling the complaints of his constituents before the house and other relevant authorities and therefore called on his constituents to exercise patience and understand that it was the situation that warranted the restriction of movement, saying, however, that as a representative of the people, he was doing all he could to ensure that peace returned to the state.
For those with no chance to escape Kankara, they will continue to live in fear until their town is secured from the menace of bandits.