From Idris Mahmoud, Katsina
Normalcy is gradually returning to troubled Katsina villages neighbouring Kaduna and Zamfara states. This follows the security measures taken against the armed bandits terrorizing the area some months back.
Our reporter, who went round some of the villages, observed that farming activities have sprang up and commuters were seen plying Funtua- Birnin Gwari road after it was abandoned for some time for fear of armed bandits.
Mallam Muhammadu Umar, a commercial driver on Funtua- Birnin Gwari route, said for about a month now, people have resumed plying the road as activities of the bandits subside due to military check points in the area.
"Many of our drivers and passengers were shot, robbed or abducted by the bandits and as a result, we suspended plying the road three to four months ago until recently when the federal government deployed military men to arrest the situation. God so kind their presence is really impacting on the security situation in the area as you can see the road is opened," Umar said.
At Tashar Bawa, a border village between Katsina and Kaduna states located at the edge of Zamfara forest, farming activities has since resumed.
Mai Unguwa Sani, the village head, said the presence of the soldiers in the area and their drastic action against the bandits had restored life in the villages with many farmers going back to their abandoned farms.
"Over 150 cows and several herds of sheep were rustled from our village. This, among other threats, forced people in the villages of Kimba, Mai Kyasuwa, Dokar ruwa, Kwadaga and Kwalakwangi to abandon their ancestral homes and farms until recently when some of them returned to their farms," the village head added.
He, however, said the soldiers stationed at Tashar Bawa were later transferred to Dungun Mu’azu for an unknown reason, adding that ‘’I can attest that they were really cooperating with the locals in the area and they were responding to any of our distress calls placed at any hour of the day." According to Mai Unguwa Sani, few days ago people from various villages gathered tillage cows and labourers, who volunteered to work on the farm of the military commander at Maganda, all in a show of gratitude and solidarity to the military men.
Muhammad Nazeeru, a resident of the village, told this reporter that before the deployment of the soldiers, the bandits were brazenly walking with their rifles in the villages and sometimes extorting the villagers and passers- by.
Meanwhile, at Gadar Dankuri and Unguwar Ladan of Sabuwa LGA, the people of the two deserted villages have not relocated back but the recent security improvement has made them to resume activities in their once deserted farms.
Bello Musa, a resident of Gadar Dankuri, who relocated to Dandume months back, said the presence of the soldiers in the area was boosting the confidence of the villagers as many of them had returned to their deserted farms.
"In the last one month, we have not heard of any abduction or invasion of a village by the bandits; soldiers are patrolling the area that is why many of us find it safe to resume farming," Musa said.
He also thanked the FG and pleaded that the soldiers be maintained in the area until the security improves.
Similarly, the Wakilin Damari (village head Damari), Alhaji Hayatu Abdulkarim, said things were getting better in the area after soldiers launched a successful attacks on cattle rustlers during fasting period.
"Since the killing of those rustlers, abduction of people or invasion of villages had stopped. Villagers are busy in their farms but scared of going into the forest," Alhaji Hayatu said.
He also cautioned against early withdrawal of the soldiers while thanking the federal government for its efforts in tackling the menace of armed bandits in the area.