TOUGH time awaits bandits in the Northwest as President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a joint military and police operation to root them out.
Tagged “Operation Accord”, it is targeted at ridding Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto states of armed marauders.
There were protests in Katsina and Niger over rising killings by the bandits.
The European Union (EU) on Tuesday said 160 people have been killed since May 28.
President Buhari called for calm, saying security agencies were working to bring the current wave of killings to a halt.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, quoted the President as saying that security forces were on top of the situation.
“The Presidency assures Nigerians, again, that the nation’s armed forces are fully capable of dealing with the challenges of banditry and terrorism, urging more patience as the military takes appropriate steps to block gaps being exploited to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens.
“President Buhari, who has approved a joint military and police operation specifically targeted at combing Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto states to rid the areas of bandits, assures that surveillance will be improved, with more night vision aircraft already deployed under ‘Operation Accord’. The operation was launched three weeks ago.”
Quoting the President, the statement says: “Nigerian military has displayed its capabilities in the past and will show it again by dealing with the current challenges.”
The Police in Katsina, led by the commissioner Buba Sanusi, dispersed a group of youths protesting in the state capital.
They were intercepted and dispersed while making their way to Government House to lodge their protest to Governor Aminu Bello Masari
The youths condemned the security situation, and called on the government to take drastic measures against the bandits.
By early morning on Tuesday, the Police had barricaded Kofar Soro, where they intended to begin the protest.
The youths wore black shirts with the inscription “Arewa is bleeding” and bore placards, some of which read: “Our leaders have failed us.”
Police spokesman Gambol Isah told our reporter that the protest was peaceful.
He warned against allowing miscreants to cause trouble in the guise of protests.
The state government urged the people, especially rural dwellers, to expose fleeing bandits and their informants in their midst.
Special Adviser to Governor on Security Matters, Alhaji Ahmad Katsina, told our reporter that the joint operation has forced the bandits out of the forests into villages.
“Since members of the community know most of these bandits and their informants, what is required of them is to partner with the security forces and expose them
“This is the surest way to eradicate the menace. So without the community support, winning this war cannot be easy,” he said.
He urged those with information to channel them through their leaders.
The traditional rulers have access to the government and the military forces,” he said.
There were also peaceful protests in Niger State against banditry.
Led by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) state chairman Yakubu Garba and the Convener of Concern Nigerlites Forum, Bello Ibrahim, the protesters took off from the Central Mosque to the Emir’s Palace in Minna.
They presented a letter entitled “Passionate appeal for quick intervention” to the Emir of Minna, Alhaji Umar Faruk Bahago, to be forwarded Governor Abubakar Sani Bello and President Buhari.
Emir Bahago said the government and security agencies were doing their best.
Members of the Niger House of Assembly asked Governor Bello to explain what the government is doing to halt banditry.
They also summoned the Commissioner of Police and asked him to redeploy all Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) in the affected areas.
The lawmakers were responding to a motion by the member representing Rafi Constituency, Abdullahi Magani.
The member representing Gurara constituency, Binta Mamman, said the government was not being sincere in its response.
The Speaker, Abdullahi Bawa Wuse, moved a motion that the governor should address the state in a broadcast.
The Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Mohammed Sani Musa, said the people were left with no choice than to defend themselves.
“The youths in my constituency have decided henceforth to defend themselves given the failure of the Federal Government to address the lingering challenge.
“We have tried to calm them down all this while, assuring them of the government’s intervention.
“They have lost hope, and are deciding to defend themselves in any way they can,” he said, referring to the attacks on Rafi and Shiroro areas that began last Friday.
The attacks left four policemen and three civilians killed, many villagers wounded and kidnapped, and thousands displaced.
“My heart is pained seeing the bloodletting in my constituency. Women are raped and killed. Men are maimed and children rendered fatherless. This development is really sad; especially that it has remained a recurring decimal,” the Senator said.
He urged the Federal Government to do more, especially as food security is also threatened.
Also yesterday, the EU condemned the abductions and killings.
its people in this period of increased violence and instability.”