Niger State Governor Assures Citizens Of Their Safety

By Timothy Choji, Abuja

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Niger State Governor, Sani Bello says the security challenge troubling the State will soon be a thing of the past, as adequate steps are being taken to address the problem.

Governor Bello disclosed this on Tuesday while speaking to State House Correspondents, after paying a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Governor, who sued for more collaboration with neighbouring states, said: “I am very optimistic with the kind of zeal I have seen from our security agencies and all services. I’m very optimistic that the situation will be addressed. And hopefully, we should get a very peaceful state within the shortest possible time.

“But there is still a lot of work to do. We share borders with Kaduna, Zamfara, and Kebbi States. And these bandits have the habit of hibernating between forests, moving from Zamfara to Kebbi, and Kebbi to Niger.

“They take advantage of the cattle routes which they already know. They move on motorcycles. And most of the areas and communities they attack have no access roads. So, you cannot drive there. So, our response time is slow.

“But going forward, there will be new strategies which I earlier mentioned. It will help us. But I can’t disclose some of those strategies. But basically, the States of Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi would have to work together to address the situation simultaneously.”

President Muhammadu Buhari receives the Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello at the State House.

Governor Bello said he was in the State House to bring the President up to speed with security developments in Niger State, adding that he had a fruitful discussion with the President.

This afternoon, I came to visit Mr President to give him an update on the security situation in Niger State with regard to banditry activities, kidnapping, and cattle rustling among others. We had a very fruitful discussion.

“We were able to review some of the invasions in the state. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you all. In the last few days, there have been a lot of activities in Niger State. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, we see some relief with regard to banditry. I also gave a highlight on some of the challenges. Of course, our size is a disadvantage, almost nine million hectares. We lost some forests,” he said.

Casualty figures

The Governor gave a breakdown of casualties recorded during attacks in the State in the last 17 days.

In January this year alone, we suffered not less than 50 reported attacks and loss of lives, between 1st and 17th January. Within the same period, not less than 300 communities have been invaded by bandits. The number of people kidnapped is 200, including three Chinese nationals. We also lost some security personnel. Their number is 25. Unfortunately, we lost about 165 civilians and 30 local vigilantes. So, it’s a very dire situation that we have been battling in the last few weeks since the beginning of this year.

“What I realize is that they have been taking us on a merry-go-round. When we deal with them in Niger, they move to Kaduna. When Kaduna deals with them, they move to Katsina. They have been hibernating in the forest. Some of these operations need to be handled simultaneously so that we get the result.

“We are not happy and we are sad with the developments in these states. We are doing whatever we can, using kinetic and non-kinetic efforts to see that we address the present situation. As we go on, we will try to update you from time to time on progress being made in this fight,” the Governor added.

He called for recruitment of more security personnel, as a way of sustaining successes recorded in the fight against bandits.

One way is to increase the number of personnel with massive recruitment. Another way is to increase the number of vigilantes for support because security is actually the responsibility of all. And most of the people in these communities are farmers. Most of the vigilantes are farmers. If they get some support after the conventional police and military, they should be able to protect their own communities. Yes, I’m worried about sustainability,” he said.






Emmanuel Ukoh

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