Residents of at least 23 local government areas in Sokoto, Zamfara, and Kebbi states are fighting for survival as kidnappers, cattle rustlers, and bandits make their lives miserable.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, people of the impacted districts have been compelled to migrate, enter into an arrangement with the criminals, or live in fear.
Residents in Sokoto State stated the worst impacted local government districts are Isa, Sabon Birni, Gwadabawa, Illela, Tangaza, and Goronyo.
According to NAN, inhabitants in the affected LGAs have been compelled to abandon their farms, and some villages have been abandoned.
Mallam Abubakar Bawa, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ahmed Aliyu, stated that the state government was aware of the gravity of the situation.
Bawa said, “We are giving priority to ensuring a safe environment.
“Addressing security challenges has remained top on our administration’s nine-point agenda.
“Our target as a government is to ensure that citizens sleep with their two eyes closed and continue to live and relate peacefully with one another.”
According to Bawa, the Nigerian Army, police, and other security services have been working hard to protect the areas.
ASP Ahmad Rufai, spokesman for the Sokoto State Police Command, also stated that the Commissioner of Police, Ali Kaigama, has been engaging locals to promote the flow of actionable information to combat banditry and other criminalities.
According to the police spokesman, the security issues have primarily impacted local governments in Sokoto State’s eastern regions.
Faruk Shehu, a civil society worker in Zamfara State, stated numerous communities in the state’s 14 LGAs have been displaced, with people of Maru, Anka, Shinkafi, Maradun, Zurmi, Gusau, and Bungudu LGAs being the hardest impacted.
Shehu said previous attempts at dialogue with the bandits had failed, resulting in the escalation of the security challenges in the state.
“The security challenges in the state started as cattle rustling and later transformed into banditry and kidnapping,” Shehu said.
He expressed hope that Governor Dauda Lawal’s continuous involvement with the military and other security services will lead to an increase in attacks on bandits in order to secure the areas they have ruled.
Mallam Abubakar Nakwada, Secretary to the State Government, stated that the government would never engage in discussion with bandits, as past administrations had done, but would rather back security services in bringing the criminals to their knees.
According to Bamaiyi An’iko, Secretary of Zuru Development Foundation, the situation in Kebbi State has already cost the lives of at least 2,500 individuals between 2019 and 2023.
An’iko stated that 2,500 people were slain in Danko, Wasagu, Fakai, Sakaba, and Zuru LGAs, all of which are part of the Zuru Emirate.
He said bandits have been attacking and displacing rural communities in the emirate, adding that some communities around Bena, Danko, Wasagu had come under siege or total control of the bandits.
“Some communities had to sign an agreement with the bandits,” the foundation’s secretary said, adding that, “There are a lot of Internally Displaced Persons requiring urgent provision of relief materials, including food and toiletries, clothes and mats.”
He urged the state government and other agencies not to relent in providing relief assistance to the IDPs.
The state Deputy Governor, Senator Umar Tafida, said the government was determined to end the security challenges and would continue to provide support for victims of bandits’ attacks who have been forced to leave their homes.
He said, “The state government, under the leadership of Dr. Nasir Idris, will leave no stone unturned in making sure that banditry comes to an end in the state.”
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Ahmad Idris, said, “The government is doing its best to ensure that the situation is fully tackled.”
The Director, Defence Media Operation, Maj. Gen. Edward Buba admitted that insecurity is widespread in the North-West region.
He added that the military had deployed troops to various locations in the region to address the scourge.
Buba said, “The issue of insecurity is quite widespread in the North-West of the country. It is for this reason troops are strategically deployed to address the situation through Joint Task Force Operation Hadrin Daji; and Operation Whirl Punch, both of which are in the North-West.
“Periodic reports that have been made available to the media have indicated incremental improvements in the security situation as a result of these operations.”