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Banditry, kidnapping simmer down in Kebbi State amid border closure, others

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Governor Atiku Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi state. Photo: TWITTER/KBSTGOVERNMENT

Irked by the persistent cases of banditry, abductions and sundry criminal activities, the Kebbi State Government recently rolled out a number of programmes to show its commitment to the protection of lives and property in the state. Apart from the planned collaboration with neighbouring Sokoto and the Zamfara States, another approach of Kebbi State Government is the recent inauguration of Security Challenges Committee (SCC) by Governor Atiku Abubakar Bagudu, which has as its chairman the Deputy Governor, Col. Samaila Yombe Dabai (rtd).

While expressing his administration’s determination to bring succor to victims of banditry and other security challenges, Governor Bagudu explained that the committee would visit areas where there have been security problems such as Zuru Emirate, Yauri, Bagudu, Kamaba, Dakingari and others.

A significant gain of President Muhammadu Buhari’s border closure is how it has curtailed the activities of bandits and other criminal elements who until now freely roam the area. While justifying the need to put all necessary logistics to man the borders, Governor Bagudu pointed out that the recent border closure ordered by the Federal Government had, within 90 days of its commencement, recorded significant impact.

Not long after the inauguration, the committee swung into action by visiting areas of stress with security agencies, as well as meeting with paramilitary outfits in the state. In Bena/Danko/Wasagu Local Government Area, for instance, Dabai told the security operatives that the committee’s visit was majorly to discuss various security challenges and have a firsthand assessment of the current security situation in the area that has been facing security challenges in the past.

He assured the security agents that state government, under the leadership of Senator Bagudu, would not relent in its effort at tracking down the perpetrators of kidnapping, banditry and related criminal activities in the state. While acknowledging that the harvest period is usually the time for a rise in criminal activities in the area, the deputy governor said the government would provide adequate security to ensure socio-economic stability.

He reiterated government’s position on the need for the people of Bena and Kebbi State, in general, to support security operatives by reporting suspicious movements and giving vital information that could help in stemming the tide of criminal activities.

At Bakin Gulbi village, two persons were kidnapped and killed while one Alhaji Muhammadu Anaruwa Bena was released after ransom was paid. The district head, Alhaji Kabiru Ibrahim Bena, urged the government to redouble its strategies towards ensuring security around the border communities, particularly the Bena axis that borders Zamfara and Niger States. The district head commended the deputy governor for finding time to pay condolence and a fact-finding visit to Alhaji Muktari Musa Wasagu, the chief of Wasagu in his palace.

In a related development, Dabai also visited Tafkin Kada village in Jega Local Government Area and expressed the readiness of the administration to tackle security challenges across the state. While addressing the combined security personnel involving army, police and vigilante groups at Tafkin Kada village, Dabai reiterated the state government’s resolve to provide all the necessary motivational support needed by the security to improve their operations.

While the security operatives expressed their satisfaction with the committee’s visit, Tafkin Kada village head, Mallam Rabiu, commended the efforts of the state government, particularly the presentation of motorcycles to the community for surveillance. He disclosed that the gesture would also assist his community to undertake rapid response to security threats in the area, stressing that those who earlier left their homes for fear of the marauders were now gradually returning.

The village head acknowledged the efforts of joint security operatives deployed to the area, saying that the tireless and prompt discharge of their duties helped in restoring the people’s confidence, even as he prayed for God’s guidance, protection and peace in Kebbi State and Nigeria at large.

Earlier, the deputy governor explained that the provision of motorcycles to volunteers was a sequel to the appeal by the community to kebbi State Government for logistical support to enable them to carry out effective surveillance. THE SCC chairman uses the medium to renew the call to the community to effectively monitor and report any strange occurrences and attempts to disrupt the peace.

He said the motorcycles officially handed over to the village head were to be distributed to the volunteers for community surveillance, maintaining that the vigilante groups are to use the equipment to expand the fight against crime in their communities.

“We discovered the rising cases of crimes, such as kidnapping and robbery,” Dabai said. “So, the current administration under the leadership of Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu is committed to ensuring that the crime rate within and outside the state is reduced,” adding that the public had a crucial role to play in the fight against insecurity.

The commander of the vigilante group in Bena, Mallam Danladi, acknowledged the efforts of Kebbi State government towards the people of the area, pointing out that homegrown strategies by the committee were proving effective in combating insecurity in the state.

Accessibility to some remote areas of the state was seen as a critical hindrance to the vigilante groups. But the deputy governor noted that part of the efforts at boosting the morale of the security was the provision of motorcycles. He said the security situation in Bachaka area had improved with the number of security operatives deployed, explaining that the land expanse and accessibility were considered in allotting the motorcycles to the security operatives. This, he said, would enable them to reach those areas where accessibility has been an issue.

The chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bachaka, Alhaji Salihu Sani and the security operatives accompanied the deputy governor on the courtesy visit to the village head of Tambo, a border town between Nigeria and Niger Republic. He pointed out that a cordial relationship exists between Nigeria and Niger Republic despite the fact that the colonial administration separated them.

It would be recalled that when the Assistant Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Abubakar, Coordinator of Border Drill Operation and his team paid him a courtesy visit in Birnin Kebbi, Governor Bagudu expressed his administration’s readiness to support security agencies in the ongoing efforts to curtain the activities of bandits and smugglers around the nation’s border areas.

The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Dabai appreciated the efforts of the team in ensuring lasting peace and security in the country, even as he lamented that Nigeria’s land borders with Niger and Benin Republics are porous. According to the Kebbi State governor, insecurity and the menace of smuggling had been reduced to the barest minimum, assuring that with the efforts of the security team sent to the state, the activities of bandits, smugglers, and gunrunners would be overcome. The governor reassured the SCC of his administration’s commitment to rendering the much-needed support for the success of the operation, explaining that the issue of lawlessness encountered in previous months in the southern part of the state was as a result of cross-border activities by the bandits from Zamfara State.

He noted that the joint operation by security agents led by the state commissioner of police has crippled the activities of the criminals.

Earlier, the Assistant Comptroller of Customs, Abubakar, said the combined security outfit was “saddled with the responsibility of securing human lives and property in this part of the country,” stressing that the joint operations need the cooperation of the state government and the people.

He disclosed that 99 per cent of petroleum filling stations in the border communities were for negative intentions, maintaining that they do not dispense in open. The comptroller, therefore, said that the cooperation of the people was needed to overcome the motives of criminals.

Reacting to developments in border communities, the chairman of Mahyama Local Government Area, Ziyanu Mohammad Bello Mahyama, praised the governor for supporting security agencies to ensure that bandits are flushed out from all nooks and crannies of the state. The chairman told The Guardian that the council is one that criminals, especially kidnappers and cattle rustlers, always intruded upon, but noted that with the support of the state government, through the security agents such as police, Nigeria Army, vigilante, civil defence and DSS crime has reduced drastically.

In his words: “We hold security meetings with the security agents attached to the council, alongside traditional rulers, religious leaders to ensure the security of lives and property of the people. We also plan to engage the youth in one or two things like education and skill acquisition.”

Similarly, as part of its efforts to cater to the socio-economic wellbeing of the citizens, the state government said it was collaborating with development partners to improve primary healthcare in the state. Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Babale Umar Yauri, disclosed that a free medical outreach was carried out, stressing indigent rural dwellers were treated free of charge, including people from neighbouring countries and states of the federation.

In his words: “Kebbi State Government, in collaboration with the EU/UNICEF, renovated over thousands of primary healthcare centres across the 21 local government areas. More health clinics have been constructed, just as health institutions were upgraded and drugs purchased.

“All these are ways the government is trying to win the confidence of the people and renew the communal living among the citizens. It is also intended to encourage people to support the government in meeting the various challenges facing the state.”

While noting that education has a central place in the economic and social empowerment of the people, Yauri said emphasis is being laid on education, adding that over 2000 teachers were recently employed for both secondary and primary schools. According to him, teaching and learning facilities have been procured and more schools renovated to engage the youth and make education attractive to them.

He called on the youths to eschew violence, noting that a lot of achievement had been recorded in the area of security, healthcare system, education and infrastructure.

“We are sustaining the regular security meetings with security chiefs, traditional rulers and religious leaders in order to forestall any security breach and ensure that Kebbi State remains a peaceful place,” he added.

It is possible that the border closure has helped to reduce trans-border attacks by criminals, but the combined patrols of security agents and social development efforts of the government seem to be brining back hope to citizens.


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