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Stop the killings in Katsina

In 2021, no fewer than 207 people were killed in communities in Katsina State, according to an independent tally collected by this newspaper from reported…

In 2021, no fewer than 207 people were killed in communities in Katsina State, according to an independent tally collected by this newspaper from reported incidents. Several killings must have gone unreported for various reasons, effectively turning communities in the state into killing fields.

In 2022, 156 were killed, including in Illela village in Dutsinma LGA, on January 27, 2022; six (along with the village head) in Daddara village in Jibia LGA on February 3, 2022; 17 in Karfi ward of Malumfashi LGA on February 4, 2022; 12 in Guga, Dukawa and Gidan Kanawa villages in Bakori LGA on February 8, 2022; and 15, all of them farmers, while clearing their fields, in Gakurdi village in Jibia LGA on May 24, 2022.

This year, 2023, also started on a bad note for many in Katsina. Three persons were killed on Kankara-Ruwan Godiya-Sheme road in Kankara LGA on January 3. People were also killed in Jajar Kanwa village in Jibia in January also. The goriest of all so far happened on Friday, February 3, 2023, where more than 100 were killed in communities in Kankara and Bakori LGAs.

One of the young men who witnessed the clash, Mustapha Abdullahi, told Daily Trust that: “Our brothers went to retrieve animals rustled by bandits and the gunmen ambushed and killed some of them. Those who escaped the first attack called for reinforcement to be able to recover corpses for burial. I was one of those who went in the second batch, together with my brother. Unfortunately, from nowhere we saw ourselves surrounded by the gunmen who pounced on us and started using all sorts of weapons, including guns and cutlasses…Because of their number and the superior power of their weapons, they overpowered us.”

The residents say they now live in fear because the majority of those killed by the bandits were the ones defending the communities from attacks. They also noted that even after the ill-fated encounter, the bandits attacked two neighbouring villages of Ungwar Shu’aibu and Yan Mayu same day and rustled their animals. They also attacked Dan Kumeji and kidnapped over 20 women.

We condemn the attacks in very strong terms while commiserating with families of the victims. We also pray for the quick recovery of those who were injured in the incident.

In this same vein, we flay the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which went ahead with its campaign in the state despite the attack. We  feel  the APC should have done more than cancel its presidential “road show” and other programmes of celebration. They should have called it off altogether as a mark of respect for the victims of the Bakori killings.

Calling for special prayers for the repose of the souls of slain indigenes of Bakori by Governor Aminu Bello Masari and the donation of N100m by the APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to the families of all those who were affected by the attacks – good as they are – can never compensate for the loss of loved ones. Never mind that the APC still went ahead with its rally where flags were presented to the presidential and governorship candidates of the party.

Sadly, apart from the promise by Governor Masari to set up a commission of inquiry to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the unfortunate incident, the government has not shown much empathy as far as the affected communities are concerned. We have had several commissions of inquiry in the past and nobody knows the contents of their reports, let alone call for their implementation.

Many people in these communities are now forced to live with countless number of widows and orphans, even as their primary means of livelihood – farming – remains impossible due to the activities of bandits. People can neither engage in farming nor rearing of animals for fear of attacks.

Governor Masari, in collaboration with the federal government, needs to take extraordinary measures, to reassure the people of their safety and that government feels their pain. He cannot ask the communities to be courageous in defending themselves and then turn around to blame them for doing just that. He should remember when he promised to help citizens of the state to acquire weapons to defend themselves because the number of policemen in the state is inadequate.

As elected officials coming to the end of the constitutionally sanctioned two terms in office, both President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Masari should remember the oath they have sworn to with regards to protecting people’s lives and property. That oath subsists until May 29, 2023, when they are expected to hand over to their elected successors. Before then, they have a responsibility to secure the people. And they should be seen to be doing that.

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