The governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari, has said the people of the state have suffered immensely from attacks by gunmen locally known as bandits.
Mr Masari said more than 13,000 residents of an attacked community were forced to flee to the nearby Niger Republic.
Katsina is one of the states in Nigeria’s North-west region that have come under heavy attacks by gunmen. The bandits attack communities, rustle cattle and abduct travellers and students for ransom.
These bandits have been blamed for killing thousands of people. They have also abducted many more in what is shaping to become one of the worst kidnap-for-ransom syndicates in the history of the country.
Mr Masari was speaking Sunday evening in Katsina when he received his Ekiti state counterpart, Kayode Fayemi, who was at the state to meet APC delegates ahead of the party’s national primaries.
Mr Fayemi, a former minister, is one of the over 20 aspirants seeking to get the APC presidential ticket.
He said the people of the state especially those around the dreaded Rugu forest have been suffering from incessant bandits’ attacks.
“Your excellency, you’ve made mention of the insecurity here in Katsina. I want you to know that rehabilitating of the rural economy mostly affected by the insecurity is important. Our people especially in the 13 areas bordering the Rugu forest that stretches to Kaduna and Zamfara States have suffered immensely. Some have relocated to other states. While some have moved inward to live in some communities as displaced residents because they’ve completely lost their means of livelihood.
“Today, even if they go back to their communities they no longer have the economic capacity to turn their lives because they have lost all their cattle, the sheep and goats owned by women have all been stolen. So, a lot needs to be done to rehabilitate the economy of the rural population,” he said.
The governor said the bandits usually burn down any community they attack as part of a strategy to cripple the economy of the people.
He gave the example of Shimfida village in Jibia local government where after the residents were displaced, the bandits burnt down the community.
“As I speak to you, we are spending over N100 million to rehabilitate Shinfida village, which was sacked and burnt by bandits that forced 13,500 people to move to the Niger Republic. I have to suspend everything and meet the political leadership of those communities.
“I had to meet the political leaders of the community. We have sent food to them, and we have started bringing them back. The military are back in Shinfida. When the Shinfida people left, the bandits burnt the village and vandalised everything. Critical to us is the security and rehabilitation of those villages and communities, restoring their economic way of life and providing basic education,” he stated.
As part of efforts to support those affected by the banditry, Mr Masari said the state government had conducted a census on the number of widows and orphans.
“For us, this is very important. We have completed a census of all women who lost their husbands. We have the list of all the orphans, widows and the destroyed houses. We have already started working with UNDP who are coming in to help in some of the areas particularly education of the orphans from primary to secondary school levels and we intend to give the widows financial support to start local business,” he said.
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