Cattle rustling and banditry have for years remained the biggest security problems bedeviling residents of southern part of Katsina State, especially communities surrounding the dreaded Rugu forest.
Hundreds of lives have been lost, women raped, several persons maimed, just as thousands of animals worth billions of naira have been lost to the activities of such bandits who have made the forest their hideout.
But in 2015, a new effort was launched by the new administration of Governor Aminu Masari to help bring peace to communities in Faskari, Safana, Danmusa, Jibia, Dutsinma, Bakori, Kankara, Dandume that had for long been bearing the brunt of cattle rustling and banditry.
A relative peace was observed as government reached out to the cattle rustlers and bandits through a government standing committee on cattle rustling/dialogue that sat and agreed on a peace deal with the bandits and cattle rustlers.
The bandits demanded for protection, release of some of their men in captivity and provision of social amenities in their communities as pre-conditions before they would denounce cattle rustling and hand over their weapons.
Over 300 cattle rustlers and bandits repented and accepted the state government’s amnesty. A total of 104 AK-47 rifles and 267 dens guns were surrendered to government.
Also, over 11,989 animals were recovered between July and December 2015 and returned to their owners.
However, as the problem of cattle rustling was being addressed, the issue of kidnapping resurfaced and the state government attributed it to the failure on the part of its neighbour, Zamfara, to reign in the bandits roaming its bushes and crossing into Katsina State.
Disturbed by the changing tide in crime, Governor Masari, has since signed into law, an amended penal code prescribing death sentence for kidnapping and cattle rustling in the state. “The decision to make these offences serious with the above punishment cannot be over-emphasised. We revisited the penal and procedural laws to deal with any suspect that may be found wanting. It is hoped and prayed that they would serve as deterrence to those that may be convicted and those that have the intention of committing them,” Masari said in a recent interview, to justify the new law.