- We’re deliberating on the matter – Katsina Emirate
- ‘Stop the blame game’
People in Katsina yesterday tasked the federal government to reveal the names of the traditional rulers who are allegedly aiding banditry in the state.
They said it would amount to “shifting blame” if relevant authorities did not name, arrest and prosecute the traditional rulers found complicit in the protracted insecurity in Katsina and the rest of the North West that has claimed hundreds of lives and displaced thousands.
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Community leaders and locals in areas prone to attacks by bandits in Katsina told the Daily Trust yesterday that it was necessary to reveal the identities of those supporting banditry to avert mutual suspicion.
The call came in the wake of a revelation by Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity.
Shehu, while speaking on Sunrise Daily, a programme of Channels Television, yesterday, said some traditional rulers help bandits escape whenever security operatives were planning to attack them.
He said: “It is not that we are making direct accusations on anyone but it is also true that even in the president’s native state of Katsina, some traditional rulers have been found complicit in collaboration with the bandits to harm their own people.
“In neighbouring Zamfara, emirs and district heads, quite a number of them have been swept out of office. The thing is there are beneficiaries of whatever rotten system you have.
“At some point, the Nigerian Air Force had to put a number of aircraft in Katsina, they are still there. In the early part of that operation attacking Zamfara, which then was the epicentre.
“They realised that once an aircraft took off from Katsina airport, before it got to Zamfara for operation, telephone calls would have been made and targets would have disappeared. In the end, we were forced to be flying from distant places like Kaduna and Kano in order to undertake operations in Zamfara,” he said.
Garba Shehu added that it was the responsibility of all to secure Nigeria and not the exclusive preserve of those vested with political power.
“All of us as citizens have a duty to the nation to provide information to our armed forces,” he said.
When contacted, Abdu Labaran Malumfashi who is the spokesman of Governor Aminu Bello Masari said they will not talk on the recent twist. “There is no comment,” he said.
It would be recalled that Governor Masari recently said they have decided to stop negotiating with bandits because they (bandits) have serially betrayed the agreements reached with the government including the amnesty granted them.
Daily Trust reports that in neighbouring Zamfara State, some traditional rulers have been deposed by government for their alleged role in banditry and kidnapping.
Katsina Emirate chewing the matter
The secretary of Katsina Emirate Council who holds the traditional title of Sallama Katsina, Bello Ifo, said the emirate was still discussing and reviewing the allegation and will make its stand known soon.
Also, a traditional ruler in the emirate confided in our reporter that such an allegation must not be swept under the carpet, saying there was the need for the emirate to speak so as to clear the air.
Another traditional ruler who does not want his name mentioned, said, “This is a serious allegation and our leaders must talk. If the allegation is true, then those found guilty should be stripped of their titles and prosecuted.
“It would amount to betrayal of trust for a traditional ruler even if he is just a village head to compromise the safety of his people because of worldly things.
“I think we have to be careful; I mean the federal government should be careful while making such weighty allegations. They should be bold enough to bring out the whole truth so that our people would live in peace.
“Another side of the story is that if some traditional rulers are complicit, others are victims because we recently lost a district head in Katsina. He was killed by the bandits. So, I think this is a delicate matter that must be handled with caution so as not to erode the remaining peace we have in other parts of the state,” he said.
Stop the blame game
Some locals told our correspondent that such an allegation must be followed by prompt action because it was certain the spokesman of the president would not speak without having his facts intact.
A resident of Batsari, one of the affected councils in the state, said the allegation of involvement of traditional rulers “is a hear say that always comes up from time to time because up till today we have not heard of the name, or seen any of them caught in the act or paraded alongside some bandits. “Today’s revelation is timely and those responsible for unravelling the mystery should act fast,” he said.
Another resident from Dutsinma said the issue raised by the presidential spokesman was very complicated.
“The allegation could be true and I am sure he is talking from an informed point of view, from position of authority. What needs to be done is for action on the part of government to deal with all those known to be part of banditry for peace to return,” he said.
A resident from Faskari said the matter had been simplified by Garba Shehu.
“Government should just swing into action and deal with them (traditional rulers) since they know them and stop this blame game,” he said.
However, Muhammad Ibrahim Khalil, a social critic in Kano said he was disappointed by the revelation.
“I am appalled that the spokesman of the president is saying they know some traditional rulers who are aiding the bandits…Honestly, I expected him to say that some prominent traditional rulers have been arrested; or have been prosecuted and found guilty.
“We are tired of being told about the problems because we all know there are problems. Hundreds of people have been killed in parts of Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, and Sokoto states and the only thing we keep hearing is that they were killed by bandits, bandits, bandits.
“The truth is that if the federal government agencies did not arrest and parade the traditional rulers thought to be part of the insecurity, then mutual suspicion would gain prominence and the lives of the innocent among the traditional rulers will be in danger.
“I want the federal government not to only name and shame those involved, but take punitive measures against them to serve as deterrent.
“From past experience, those in position of authority always look for scapegoats especially when they fail in their responsibilities. It is the number one responsibility of government to secure lives and properties of the people.
“Remember that the government had said severally that some prominent people are behind the Boko Haram crisis, the farmer/herder crisis among other vices but up till this moment we have not seen any prominent person arrested,” he said.
Comment may escalate crisis
Responding to the claim by Garba Shehu that some traditional rulers were aiding bandits, a security expert and terrorism scholar, Dr. Amaechi Nwaokolo, said the comment was capable of escalating the security situation in the country.
According to him, what the government needed now was the cooperation of locals, religious and community leaders to tackle the current security challenge and not to resort to political pandering.
Expressing sadness that a serious security matter was being politicised, Amaechi made reference to the verbal exchanges between some notable northern elders and spokespersons for the president over the deteriorating security situation in the North.
“For instance, the Presidential aide (Femi Adesina) shouldn’t have joined issues with the Northern Elders’ Forum (led by Prof. Ango Abdullahi). Rather, they should have found a way of reaching out to them to listen to their grievances,” he said.
Daily Trust reports that in Zamfara, both the immediate past and the present governments had dethroned some traditional rulers when they were found guilty of involvement in banditry, rustling and other vices.
Traditional rulers dethroned by ex-Gov Yari
- The District Head of Ruwan Gora- Alhaji Ishaq Sadiq
- District Head of Gwalli- Alhaji Musa Gwalli
- District Head of Ruwan Jema – Alhaji Isah Balarabe
- Baichin Birane – Marafa Zubairu
- Tungar Dutse – Hassan Muhammad
- Gurbin Bore- Alhaji Bello Magaji
- Ruwan Dutse – Alhaji Isah
- District Head of Birnin Magaji- Alhaji Aliyu Shehu Maishanu
- District Head of Kaya – Alhaji Bello Maiwurno.
Traditional rulers deposed by Governor Bello Matawalle
- Emir of Maru – Alhaji Abubakar Cika
- District Head of Kanoma – Alhaji Lawal Ahmad
In October 2019, a committee set up by Governor Matawalle to find immediate and remote causes of armed banditry also recommended for the sack of five emirs and 33 district heads. Their names were not made public.