By Constaincia Uruakpa
President Muhammadu Buhari has been asked to declare bandits as terrorists as they (bandits) continue their reign of terror in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and other Northwestern states in the country. The Senate, made this demand Wednesday, as part of its resolutions, after considering a motion sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gobir Abdullahi (Sokoto East), and co-sponsored by eight other senators at a plenary session, presided by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan. The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces was also asked to wage total war against the criminals, including bombing all their locations, to annihilate and eliminate them, as well as declare all known leadership of the bandits wanted, and track them wherever they are, for arrest and prosecution.
While calling for a declaration of total war against bandits, the lawmakers directed relevant Federal Government agencies to give all necessary support to victims of the menace of banditry in Sokoto and other parts of the country. Abdullahi, while moving the motion, raised the alarm that his Senatorial district has now become a safe haven for bandits, due to the current crackdown in Zamfara. He said: “Last Saturday, 21 security personnel were killed in Dama and Gangara villages, by rampaging bandits, in addition to yet to be ascertained number of civilians from neighbouring villages.
“This portrays the seriousness of the problem, which requires concerted and urgent action by the declaration of total war on banditry.” He added: “We are worried that losing such number of trained security personnel will, apart from depleting the numerical strength of the security personnel we have in the country, dampen the morale of our security agents, in confronting insecurity, thereby, jeopardising the security architecture of the country.
“We are concerned that while there is crackdown on bandits in Zamfara State, no concrete measures have been taken in Sokoto State, leaving it totally exposed to the activities of the bandits. “We are further worried that the present military onslaught on the bandits is not well coordinated because it is only being orchestrated in Zamfara, instead of all the frontline states ravaged by banditry, that is Sokoto, Katsina, Niger and Kaduna. The operation should be holistic, instead of restrictive, to produce effective and desired results.” The Senate President, while expressing concern over the situation, reiterated the resolve of the National Assembly to appropriate more funds, to tackle the menace of insecurity.
He hinted that the National Assembly might appropriate N1 trillion to security agencies in the 2022 budget, as against N800 billion that was signed in the supplementary budget. Meanwhile, following these attacks by bandits, Kaduna State government has asked residents to prepare for a shutdown of telecommunication services, as it mandated telecoms firms to suspend their services in the state from September 30, towards checking the activities of bandits. Samuel Aruwan, Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Kaduna State, who disclosed this, said the shutdown, would not cover the entire state, but will only affect councils bordering the troubled Zamfara and Katsina states, where military onslaught is ongoing.
He further disclosed that the use of motorcycles for transport services has been suspended across the state. This is coming a day after death toll in bandits’ attack on Southern Kaduna communities increased to 51. Similar measures had earlier this month been taken in Zamfara and some local councils of Sokoto and Katsina states. Aruwan said the state government has formally requested the Federal Government to enforce the shutdown of telecom services in parts of the state identified by security agencies as requiring such measures. He added that other security measures earlier announced by the state remain in place and urged residents to comply with the directives.
Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, also said that security operatives are prepared to launch an offensive on bandits hibernating in some parts of the state, adding that he had already written to the Federal Government on the shutdown, which he said had been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari. El-Rufa said due to the shutdown of telecoms services in Zamfara and Katsina, some bandits cross over to neighbouring local councils in Kaduna to make phone calls and demand ransoms. The governor did not mention the councils to be affected, but he said that the areas that are constantly being tormented by bandits know themselves.