The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, said on Monday that he had relocated to Katsina to coordinate activities of the new Operation Sahel Sanity, designed to wipe out bandits and hoodlums terrorising parts of the Northwest zone.
Buratai disclosed this at the Katsina Government House when he paid a courtesy visit on Masari.
He said “I came here two days ago and we will be here for some time to coordinate activities of the troops here in order to get some succour and also be able to resolve some of the challenges.
“We are aware of the deteriorating security situation in the North-West which calls for concern.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that appropriate steps be taken by the security agencies.
“As part of our efforts to ensure that the president’s directives are followed, to stabilise the security situation, the Nigerian Army is carrying out an operation in collaboration with existing operations here in the North-West.
“We have also moved the 2020 Nigerian Army Day celebration from Plateau State, to Katsina State, so that we will be able to muster all the forces required to contain the situation,” he said.
In his remarks, Governor Masari lamented that activities of bandits have rendered parts of the state virtually ungovernable.
According to the governor, “here in Katsina, we have witnessed within the last one month attacks and dislodgement of the people by bandits who inhabit the forest areas of the state.
“Our people are in very difficult situation especially villages and communities bordering the Rugu forest.
“When the issue of engaging the bandits came about after the 2015 general elections, we visited all the areas with senior military officers and they saw everything and even met with some of the leaders of the bandits.
“We were able to meet some of their demands including what they called arbitrary arrests by security personnel and lack of access to the markets.
“We were able to put a stop to most of the complaints. But they failed to honour their promises they made to us and the general public.
“In the bandits, we have a group of people living in the forest who are not guided by any ideologies except to kill, steal and kidnap people.
“In the Fulani community today, you are respected based on the number of guns you have and no longer respect based on the number of cattle.
“The only thing that these people know is force and unless we are able to subdue them completely, that is when we can bring the issue of talking with them, if necessary.
“They are stark illiterate both in Islamic and Western education. They claim to be Muslims but that do know what it takes to make a person Muslim.
“Talking with them at this time is a waste of time. So, I call on the security agencies to understand that the only language these bandits respect is the superiority of fire power.
“It is only when the land is secured that we can move on as a government.
“We have no access to the areas as at now. They turned some of the schools and clinics we built to residences for bandits. Luckily, with recent operations going on, they have abandoned these places and have moved into the forest.
“Another issue is that we should not give them the opportunity to come back because they will return with vengeance.. Our prole who live near the forest cannot farm this year and I am sure it is the same thing with some other states like Zamfara that have borders with the forest.
“We should not give any opportunities to enemies of the country to come in and use the bandits against the state. We have to do whatever it takes to make sure that this problem should not longer on more than necessary,” Masari said.