Declare bandits as terrorists, Senate tells Buhari
• Kaduna shuts down telecoms service, bans okada
• Says bandits from Zamfara, Katsina come to Kaduna to call, demand ransom
• Shehu Sani, Akinyemi seek more action to tackle insecurity
As bandits continue their unrestrained reign of terror in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and other Northwestern states, the Senate, yesterday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare them as terrorists in the country.
The red chamber also asked the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to wage a total war against the criminals, including bombing all their locations, to annihilate and eliminate them, while also declaring all known leadership of the bandits wanted and track them wherever they are for arrest and prosecution.
These were part of the Senate’s resolutions after considering a motion sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gobir Abdullahi (Sokoto East), and co-sponsored by eight other senators.
At the plenary presided by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, the lawmakers called for a declaration of total war against bandits and also directed relevant Federal Government agencies to give all necessary support to victims of the menace of banditry in Sokoto and other parts of the country.
Abdullahi, while moving the motion, raised the alarm that his Senatorial district has now become a safe haven for bandits due to the current crackdown in Zamfara.
He said last Saturday, 21 security personnel were killed in Dama and Gangara villages by rampaging bandits, in addition to yet to be ascertained number of civilians from neighbouring villages.
This, he said, portrayed the seriousness of the problem, which requires concerted and urgent action by the declaration of total war on banditry.
He added: “We are worried that losing such number of trained security personnel will, apart from depleting the numerical strength of the security personnel we have in the country, dampen the morale of our security agents in confronting insecurity, thereby jeopardising the security architecture of the country.
“We are concerned that while there is crackdown on bandits in Zamfara State, no concrete measures have been taken in Sokoto State, leaving it totally exposed to the activities of the bandits.
“We are further worried that the present military onslaught on the bandits is not well coordinated because it is only being orchestrated in Zamfara instead of all the frontline states ravaged by banditry, i.e. Sokoto, Katsina, Niger and Kaduna. The operation should be holistic instead of restrictive produce effective and desired results.”
The Senate President, who expressed concern over the situation, reiterated the resolve of the National Assembly to appropriate more funds to tackle the menace of insecurity.
Recalling the appropriation of N800 billion in the recently signed supplementary budget, he hinted that the National Assembly might appropriate N1 trillion to security agencies in the 2022 budget.
FOLLOWING consistent attacks, kidnapping and killings of citizens by bandits, Kaduna State government, yesterday, asked residents to prepare for a shutdown of telecommunication services as it mandated telecoms firms to suspend their services in the state from September 30, towards checking the activities of bandits.
The shutdown, however, would not cover the entire state, but will only affect councils bordering the troubled Zamfara and Katsina states where military onslaught is ongoing.
The Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, who disclosed this, also said the use of motorcycles for transport services has been suspended across the state.
This is coming a day after death toll in bandits’ attack on Southern Kaduna communities increased to 51. Similar measures had earlier this month been taken in Zamfara and some local councils of Sokoto and Katsina states.
Aruwan said the state government has formally requested the Federal Government to enforce the shutdown of telecom services in parts of the state identified by security agencies as requiring such measures.
He added that other security measures earlier announced by the state remain in place and urged residents to comply with the directives.
The governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, said security operatives are prepared to launch an offensive on bandits hibernating in some parts of the state, adding that he had already written to the Federal Government on the shutdown, which he said had been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
El-Rufai, who spoke in Hausa, said due to the shutdown of telecoms services in Zamfara and Katsina, some bandits cross over to neighbouring local councils in Kaduna to make phone calls and demand ransoms.
“I will not mention the councils to be affected but the areas that are constantly being tormented by bandits know themselves,” he said adding that: “As soon as we get the nod from security agents, then the people of Kaduna should know that we will shutdown telecommunication to give security agents the maximum cooperation to carry out operations in those areas.”
El-Rufai also said the state government had established a task force that will go round the hinterlands to monitor compliance on some of the security measures adopted, such as closure of fuel stations and markets to further strangulate bandits in the forest.
While advising residents on the need to identify and report informants or accomplices of bandits, El-Rufai said: “Anyone who comes to buy between 20 to 100 loaves of bread, sell it to him but also notify security agents; or when someone comes with about 20 phones and wants to charge them, let them charge them, but also notify security agents.”
CIVIL rights activist and former Senator, Shehu Sani, has said for there to be a solution to the continued bloodshed in the Southern part of Kaduna, President Buhari must listen to the people directly and not by any political proxy.
He said: “I could not see any reason why President Buhari cannot in his six years in office find time and do the needful for one day to go to Kafanchan and sit-down, listen to the problems of the people and how to find solutions to their problems.
“President Buhari has lived in Kaduna for more than four decades, more than he has lived in his home state, Katsina. I think he doesn’t need anybody to tell him what is happening in Southern Kaduna other than to do the needful to bring permanent peace to the area.”
Sani said this when he was received at the state secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, by thousands of supporters after he decamped to the party.
ALSO commenting on the spate of insecurity in the country, former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, said the country’s strategy in dealing with insecurity has been bedeviled by domestic politics, including refusing to name and prosecute sponsors of terrorism in the country.
Speaking on Arise TV interview, he said: “I served on the Boko Haram committee during the Jonathan-administration. Thank goodness we never published that report, because if we had published that report, Nigerians would have been alarmed at what we found out.
“You remember there was a time one body called Northeast elders called on Jonathan to withdraw troops from Maiduguri, that they were not needed to handle Boko Haram. You would also recall that when the President then declared a state of emergency in the northeast, the National Assembly refused to approve it.
“The President doesn’t need state of emergency to deploy troops to the region but of course lack of support for even the limited steps that the Federal Government wanted to take at that time, it was resisted. Now the issue has blown up beyond proportion.”