…Says over 300 People have been Killed in Sokoto East in the last three Months
…Over 5,000 people already migrated to Niger Republic
…As Senate Asks Buhari to extend rescue operations to Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto States and any other surrounding areas
By Henry Umoru
CHAIRMAN, Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Senator Ibrahim Gobir, All Progressives Congress, Sokoto East raised the alarm on Tuesday that in the last three months, over three hundred people have been killed or kidnapped by the rampaging armed bandits on daily basis in his Senatorial District.
Senator Gobir has also told his colleagues that against the backdrop of these killings, the people in his constituency are now at the mercy of Nigerien Soldiers for protection from the hands of these bandits.
The Senator who was contributing to a motion on urgent military action against banditry in Niger State by the Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, APC, Niger North, however, alleged that Nigerian Soldiers have completely abandoned his constituents, thereby exposing the people to serious danger.
Senator Abdullahi had in the motion drawn the attention of his Colleagues to the activities of bandits in his State, Niger State; and also called on the government to extend its current military operations to flush out bandits in Zamfara and Katsina States to the State.
In his contribution, Senator Ibrahim Gobir who took a swipe at the Nigerian military said that in distress, many of the people have fled to the Niger Republic for safety aided by the military of the neighbouring country.
Gobir who alleged that the Nigerian military was not responding to distress calls from the people, stressed that even when the military responds, it was always too late.
According to Gobir, the people of Sokoto have lost over 5, 7800 cows worth N2.5 billion and activities of the bandits have forced about N5,000 people displaced in Basira area in the border between Nigeria and the Niger Republic.
Meanwhile, the Senate has urged President Muhamnadu Buhari to direct the military for immediate expansion of their operations against banditry from Katsina and Zamfara to Sokoto, Niger States and other affected neighbouring states.
Senator Gobir said, “The situation in Sokoto East as far as armed banditry is concerned, is pathetic and tragic because it is only Nigerien Army that had been coming to their rescue while the Nigerian Army looks the other way round.
” In fact , based on very reliable and verifiable information from the area, many at times, that the people of the affected areas called on Nigerian Army for help and protection against the bandits, no response.
“But graciously, the Nigerien Army has been assisting in wading off the bandits, the very reason while not less than 5,000 people in the affected areas have migrated to Niger Republic for safety.
“Fallout of this is grinding poverty ravaging the affected people in form of serious hunger since their cows and other animals are on daily basis being stolen and even made from some of the cows they hurriedly sold.
“The situation is so bad that we only get help from the Niger Republic and not from Nigeria at all, be it from the Military or the Police.
“The affected people cannot perpetually be at the mercy of Nigerien Soldiers and still expected to proudly see themselves as Nigerians.
“Very urgent drastic action is required from President Buhari through the military in form of expansion of anti- banditry operation currently being carried out in Zamfara and Katsina State to Sokoto State.”
Also speaking, Chairman, Senate Services, Senator Muhammed Musa, APC, Niger East who had last week brought a similar motion before the Senate, however, expressed worry that Nigeria may not be able to nip in the bud, the state of banditry with the way and manner the issue was being handled.
Earlier, Senator Sabi Abdullahi who came under Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules as amended, however, lamented the daily occurrence of armed banditry in Niger State and that requires urgent intervention from President Muhamnadu Buhari.
Senator Sabi Abdullahi said that the upper chamber was “aware through a Presidential Spokesman that President Muhammadu Buhari has authorized the commencement of a major military operation to sweep bandits and kidnappers out of Katsina state; as major proactive measures by Special Forces to replace the reactive strikes against the camps of these bandits and criminals”.
According to him, “the criminalities by these armed bandits and kidnappers is carried out mostly under the cover of the contagious forests reserves and areas stretching from Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger States with pockets of safe havens in Kebbi and Asokoro states.”
The lawmaker expressed concerns that “a major offensive in Katsina State alone is likely to make the armed bandits and kidnappers seek safer haven in Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states which hosts the Zurmi and Kamuku forests among others, further compounding the plight of hapless and poor communities along these forest corridors.”
He added that, “it was the earlier massive operations in Zamfara and Kaduna states that led the armed bandits to seek safe haven elsewhere, this moving into Katsina and Niger States respectively; and some others pushing their lick to some parts of Sokoto and Kebbi States.
The Senate also commended President Buhari for the anti – banditry operations going on in Katsina and Zamfara States.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan who noted that the Security challenges are enormous but surmountable, said, “Nigeria is definitely up to the task and Mr President will deploy military to the areas for restoration of sanity as gradually being witnessed in Zamfara and Katsina States.”