Governors of Katsina, Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara states have locked down most of the communities prone to banditry and other criminal activities.
Governors Aminu Bello Masari, Nasir El-Rufai, Abubakar Sani Bello and Bello Mohammed Matawalle had in separate directives called for restrictions of movement and some economic activities in frontline areas in their states.
- PODCAST: ‘How We Suffer As A Result of ASUU Strikes’
I was misrepresented – Amaechi
All the affected states are located in the North West and North Central have been battling insecurity for long. Thousands of people have been killed and property worth billions of naira stolen or vandalised by bandits.
The governors had separately and collectively cried for help from the federal government which was inadequate or sometimes not forthcoming.
Government officials told the Daily Trust yesterday that the decision to restrict social and economic activities was to strangulate criminals who had made life unbearable for the people.
Locals living in villages, students, traditional leaders, among others, had been abducted for ransom while farmers could not access their farms for fear of attacks.
While the governors had taken several measures at their level to end the impunity by sundry criminals, pundits believed that the recent spontaneous decision to slam restrictions as the “most extreme decision yet.”
Our correspondents report that normal life has come to a standstill following what appeared to be a joint directive by the four governors.
However, most of the locals said they were willing to forego some of their “rights”, saying they have to be alive first before any other thing.
Masari signs executive order
Governor Masari on Tuesday signed into law the Security Challenges (Containment) Order with a view to closing some of the security gaps in the state.
A statement signed by the Director General (DG) Media, Abdu Labaran Malumfashi said a 12-point Order, which took immediate effect banned the transportation of cattle from Katsina State to any state in the country as well as trucks/lorries carrying firewood from the bush and the sale of all animals at the markets of Jibia, Batsari, Safana, Danmusa, Kankara, Malumfashi, Charanchi, Mai’adua, Kafue, Faskari, Sabuwa, Bauer, Dustin and Kaita Local Government Areas.
Katsina is a leading supplier of livestock to many states in the North and Southern parts of the country and there are fears that the decision will obstruct the value chain.
The new law also banned the sale of second-hand motorcycles at Charanchi market and carrying three persons on motorcycles as well as carrying more than three passengers on a tricycle.
It also closed the Jibia-Gurbi Baure road to all motorists until further notice and Kankara-Sheme road to all commercial vehicles.
The order also limited the sale of fuel of not more than N5, 000 to motorists to only two designated filling stations in the frontline LGAs as well as the prohibition of the sale of petrol in Jerry cans at filling stations among others.
When contacted on whether the Katsina State government was working in collaboration with other neighbouring states, DG Malumfashi said before the insecurity degenerated, Governor Masari was the first to initiate a meeting of like minds in North West zone to pull resources together to fight insecurity.
“They agreed on contributing N100m each every month with Niger state governor who indicated his interest to be part of it. But after that meeting, it was only the Katsina State governor who was made the chairman of the forum that contributed for three consecutive months after which it was noticed that perhaps every state wanted to deal with it in its own separate way.
“But I assure you if they had maintained that togetherness, things would not have deteriorated to the present state,” he said.
The Chairman of Jibia Local Government Consultative Forum, Nasiru Al-Mustapha Danye Jibia, said with the new measures, supply of basic needs to criminals would be cut off.
“Once they are pressed, they will be left with no other option other than to surrender as we are witnessing with Boko Haram terrorist recently.
“Certainly innocent citizens would also have to bear the pain but the truth is that what the government did is in the best interest of the people.
“We should also consider that they are temporary but necessary measures that would not last forever. There is, therefore, the need for the people to cooperate with the state government in implementing these new measures.”
Another resident of Kankara said that sometime in the past, a similar measure like banning of motorcycles was imposed but the bandits were still using their own to launch attacks.
“So, we hope this time the measures would be fully implemented,” he said.
In Faskari, Malam Mamman advised that the state government should seek the support of the federal government and local hunters to flush out criminals hibernating in forests.
He said with the blockage of roads, the bandits would only descend on entrapped villagers if nothing was done.
Select markets, filling stations banned in Zamfara
Sources said the decision to suspend weekly markets and ban on the sale of petrol was yielding results in Zamfara State.
Residents were reportedly helping authorities monitor fuel stations to alert security agencies on suspected accomplices of bandits who may flout the order.
Some residents of the affected communities said though economic activities had been grounded with the coming of the directive, it was a price they were willing to pay to bring an end to banditry.
Zamfara State took the decision first when Governor Matawalle ordered the closure of all weekly markets in the state and banned the sale of petrol in jerry cans as part of measures to address the worsening security situation.
Our correspondent reports that bandits in Zamfara had turned to communities in neighbouring Kebbi State for fuel after the closure of rural filling stations in the state.
Credible sources told Daily Trust that a notorious bandits’ leader operating in Kuyanbana Forest in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State, Dogo Gide, had two days ago dispatched some miscreants to purchase fuel for him in Bena, a community in neighbouring Kebbi State.
One of the sources said, “He sent some boys who are not necessarily armed bandits to buy fuel for him. He dispatched the boys from Babbar Doka, a community located 15 km west of Dansadau town. The community is totally under the control of bandits as there is no symbol of authority there.
“They successfully bought the fuel the first time and when he sent them the second time, they were intercepted by security operatives in Kebbi State.
“As I am talking with you, the culprits are now having their day in a court of law.”
He said before the ban on fuel sale in rural filling stations, armed criminals had set ablaze an oil tanker on its way to Dansadau, a development that compounded the fuel shortage problem in the area.
Another source said, “A litre of petrol is now selling at N1, 000 and it is not even available. The armed bandits will be boxed to a corner because they are mostly riding on motorbikes to carry out their atrocities.”
In Zurmi Local Government Area, Daily Trust gathered that residents were helping authorities identify those who tend to violate the directives by the state government.
One of the locals said, “The locals are now monitoring those the bandits send to buy mobile phone recharge cards, bread, soft drinks and fuel.
“I can tell you that just two days ago, one woman was intercepted trying to buy recharge cards worth N10, 000 for these criminals.”
However, another source quoted the armed bandits as saying that they would escalate their attacks on communities as a response to the state government’s directives to ban fuel sales.
Kaduna to sanction tree felling, movement in forests
Kaduna State government had also made the same pronouncement by suspending weekly markets and banning the sale of petrol in jerry cans to curtail banditry.
On Tuesday, the state government also said it banned the felling of trees and prohibited “questionable movements” and activities within the thick forests in Birnin Gwari, Igabi, Chikun, Giwa, Kachia, Kauru and Kajuru LGAs with immediate effect.
Speaking to Daily Trust, the state’s Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said the governors of the affected states were collaborating while all focal persons managing security in the affected states had been in contact as a step down of what the governors were doing.
Aruwan said though he could not divulge or pre-empt the next line of action, there was not time that the governments relaxed in tackling the security situation.
“We are all working together,” he said.
Speaking also from Fatika District in Giwa Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Ibrahim Hamza commended the state government.
He said though the security measures would affect economic activities of the people, it was a small price to pay.
“If this decision is taken seriously and implemented, it will definitely box the bandits into a corner. But then, security agents will have to be on standby because the bandits can also use this to threaten and kidnap more people,” he said.
Shehu Hassan of Birnin Gwari, however, described the decision as counterproductive.
“The bandits have deprived many people from going to their farms and the government is now depriving us of going to the market. Some of our people visited the Katangi market and they had to come back because they were told there is no market today,” he said.
Cattle movement must be documented in Niger
In Niger, the Secretary to State Government, Ahmed Ibrahim Matane said in a statement also on Tuesday that any vehicle carrying cattle into the state must show a way-bill and evidence of origin where the cattle were purchased and their destination.
The state also banned the operations of trucks carrying firewood and timber and restricted the movement of motorcycles from 6 pm to 6 am in Minna and environs. The SSG said the government was aware of the inconveniences on the people, but stressed that the decision was taken in the overall interest of the state
A Minna based Civil Society Organisation, the Blue Resolution Initiative said the measures taken by the state government were too stringent and advised the government to provide alternatives to cushion the hardship.
The President of the initiative, Mohammed Danjuma Abubakar, said, “Even small-scale businesses that are trying to thrive will die because the owners close around 10 pm. The ban on movement of motorcycles in Minna is not ideal. And for markets, no attack has taken place in any market. So, the livelihood of many rural people is also at a stake.”
From Lami Sadiq (Kaduna), Tijjani Ibrahim (Katsina), Shehu Umar (Gusau) & Abubakar Akote (Minna)