For anyone who has been following the security situation in Katsina State, the recent press address followed by a BBC Hausa interview by Governor Masari is a gross disappointment and an insult to the people of Katsina State.
First, the claim that Jibia Local Government has been peaceful until when recently some rice smugglers invited bandits to chase away Customs officers for them, shows that he is either not aware of what has been happening in Jibia LGA or he is deliberately covering up the truth. Bandit attacks in which they raped, killed, kidnapped and rustled animals have been on before and after his FG-imposed peace accords in 2016 and 2019. In fact, it became more widespread after the 2019 peace accord.
Daddara district had fewer banditry cases before the accord was signed. But because villages are not important to Masari, himself a villager, he only found it necessary to address the press when Jibia township was attacked, obviously because of the high alarm raised after the two attacks in Jibia and it’s junction (Magama). Even as a son of Jibia town, I have blamed stakeholders in Jibia of not raising so much alarm when villages were being attacked.
If I may ask His Excellency my Governor, were the bandits who attacked Sardaduwa, Kafiyal, Farun Bugaje, Garin Rabe, Dan Arau, Kukar Babangida, Zandam, Matso-Matso, Mazanya, among several other places in both Daddara and Jibia districts invited by smugglers? Perhaps the governor did not know that all of these places I mentioned were attacked after the 2019 peace accord which he told the Fulani bandits, during one the widely publicized peace meetings done at the instance of President Buhari. May be he is hearing some of these names for the first time. Yet, these are the same communities that voted for the Buhari party in 2015 and 2019.
Throughout his press address and the BBC interview, Governor Masari did not sympathize with the victims of bandit attacks. He commended the defenceless people of Magama for chasing armed bandits which they did with pure courage, but he fell short of acknowledging that two young people were killed in the process. He told the BBC that he was in Jibia on Friday to attend the wedding of a politician’s daughter but he did not find it necessary to make a stopover at Magama to condole with the poor families of those young people. Haba Masari! Which kind of leader are you?
By the way, is the Nigerian Customs Service not prepared to fight smuggling? How can it’s men so easily be chased away by Fulani bandits as the Governor himself admitted? And please, Your Excellency, are the bandits invited by smugglers among those who signed peace accord with you or the 20 percent who did not accept the peace offer? Where are the 80 percent and how do they live? Do you give them salary from the lean resources of Katsina people or do they still commit crime but only when invited by fellow criminals who live in the towns? And you don’t consider that as a breach of the peace agreement you signed with them?
Masari admitted that there are Fulani bandits (yes, ‘Fulani’ that is how he put it) who did not accept the peace agreement, but he quickly said they are now in Zamfara State. Is Zamfara not part of Nigeria? Didn’t he report back to the man who instructed him to negotiate with the bandits that some of them have refused to accept the peace offer and are now hiding in Zamfara forest? What has the president done about it? Most elected politicians hide under the inaccessibility provided by heavy security to insult their people. Otherwise, with one-on-one discussion people like Alhaji Aminu Masari cannot defend themselves before the masses of Katsina.
As far as my governor is concerned, all those claiming that there is a breach of peace in Katsina state are liars. But he quickly contradicted himself by saying that the problem of banditry is all over Nigeria, “so why are we over blowing it in Katsina State?” The governor may wish to note that there is no state in Nigeria today in which you would find a local government, nay the whole state, in which bandit attack take place on a daily basis like Katsina State. The statistics given by Dutsin Ma people is “false”. I am only quoting the Governor. Kai Gwamna, kaji tsoron Allah. Let me remind you that Allah will ask you on every life lost, every property stolen and every woman raped in Katsina. If you believe in this, why then do you think because crimes are taking place in other states, it is justified to take place in Katsina?
Of course, I am impressed by the renewed promise of the governor to address the problem of kidnapping which he said he is taking undisclosed steps to end. My advice is that the steps should be new and unconventional, not the same old ones known to the criminals. A state governor mobilized his people against Fulani marauders invading their farms with their cattle and it is now over. Why can’t Masari mobilize his people against Fulani bandits even if it means being at loggerheads with the Federal Government? Is it because some of us are Fulani? But the governor himself rightly put it that if parting with one’s finger is what will make the rest of the body healthy, there is nothing wrong in cutting it.
Nobody is against anybody here. The rest of us are interested in peace, which should not just be for urban people but for everyone living in every nook and cranny of the state.
Abdussamad Umar Jibia