How 'Repentant' Bandits are Aiding Insecurity in Katsina – THISDAY Newspapers
Francis Sardauna writes on the need for the Katsina government to investigate the activities of ‘repentant’ bandits accused of fuelling insecurity in the state
Despite the evolving strategies put in place by the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, to tackle bloodletting, rape, kidnapping, and other heinous crimes afflicting the state, some ‘repentant’ bandits are fuelling insecurity in the state.
In his doggedness to restore peace in the state, the governor granted the third amnesty to bandits after a tour of Fulani settlements and enclaves of bandits in Rugu Forest between September 4 and 9, in 2019. At that time, the bandits and their forest commanders renounced banditry.
Following that, Masari banned the activities of the volunteers, popularly known as Yan’sakai. They were accused of extrajudicial killings in the open markets.
The North-West governors adopted the peace accord following a peace summit convened in Katsina by the former Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who facilitated discussions with representatives of the ‘repentant’ bandits from the affected states: Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Kaduna, and Zamfara.
Agreements were reached between the government and the bandits, including the release of bandits detained by security operatives, the release of all kidnapped persons in bandits’ custody, and the surrender of their arms and ammunition to security agencies.
Others were providing social amenities —schools, hospitals, roads, electricity, water to Fulani settlements and rehabilitation of houses destroyed during the skirmishes between bandits and Hausa farmers. Also demanded was the establishment of RUGA settlements in some communities in the state.
THISDAY learnt that the state government had fulfilled 80 per cent of the agreements. The bandits released almost all their captives, and the government, in turn, freed more than 100 bandits in Katsina, Kano, and Kaduna correctional centres.
It was reliably gathered that over 200 bandits across communities in the 11 frontline local government areas of Batsari, Jibia, Faskari, Sabuwa, Danmusa, Kankara, Kurfi, Dandume, Dutsin-ma, Safana, and Danja surrendered their sophisticated weapons to the state government as a sign of their renunciation.
Masari, flanked by the Secretary of the State Security Council who is also the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Mustapha Inuwa, after the dialogue tour, held a series of security meetings with security chiefs, the repentant bandits, and their leaders to ensure the sustainability of the peace accord or rapprochement.
Despite the throes of anguish still enveloping residents of the state, particularly those living in communities across the crisis-prone local governments, the government employed some of the ‘repentant’ bandits to work under the office of the Special Adviser to Governor Masari on Security Matters, Ibrahim Muhammed Katsina.
The bandits’ employment might not be unconnected with their insights on local conflicts and apparently, support the state government and security agencies in the ongoing war against hoodlums in the state.
Unconfirmed reports have it that the ‘repentant’ bandits who are privileged to be enlisted in the state government’s payroll as casual staff received N100,000 monthly from the government through the office of the special adviser.
Despite that, some of them are anything but repentant. Some of the bandits are gradually returning to kidnapping for ransom and cattle rustling in the frontline local government areas of the state.
For instance, the police command in the state under the watch of CP Buba Sanusi had on September 1 arrested and paraded one of them, Abdullahi Mai-Rafi. The suspect, who hails from Kofar Marusa, low-cost in Katsina, has been on the state government’s payroll for about six months.
The 43-year-old Mai-Rafi was arrested alongside two other ‘repentant’ bandits, namely Abbas Haruna alias Dogo-Abbas (34) of Filin Polo Quarters, Katsina and Usman Hassan alias Manu (50) of Ganuwa village in Charanchi local government area of the state for robbery and cattle rustling.
The police spokesperson in the state, Gambo Isah, who paraded the ‘repentant’ bandits before journalists at the command’s headquarters, said: “The fact of the matter was that on August 11, 2021, at about 11:00hrs, the trio went to Danmarke forest, Ingawa LGA, with a motor vehicle Toyota, Camry, ash in colour, with registration number DE 631 LED.”
There, said the police officer, they attacked a herder, “one Alhaji Gide Suleiman of Malumafashi LGA,” while grazing his animals. He was attacked with machetes and sticks, and the so-called repentant bandits threatened him and his boys that they were from the office of special adviser on security to Governor Masari. They also falsely claimed that Suleiman’s brother “one Sa’idu had robbed one Lawal of his herds and that they should either produce the said Saidu or bring 100 cows.”
The police spokesman added that after “some scuffle, the suspects succeeded in robbing the said Alhaji Gide Suleiman of his 20 cows valued at N7,550,000” to take them to “the said Lawal” as compensation for his ‘stolen’ cows.
They also robbed the victims of N40,000 and four phones.
Continuing, Isah explained: “Subsequently, on August 24, 2021, at about 07:30hrs, the same syndicate of Abdullahi Mai-Rafi and three others attacked the complainant on the same false allegation and attempted to rob him of another set of 20 cows and some sheep. But nemesis caught up with them when they were rounded up and arrested by the command.”
According to the police, the suspects admitting to assaulting their victims, stealing from them, and selling their cows at Dankama market, Kaita LGA.
“Two cows and the sum of N444,000 were recovered as exhibits from their possessions,” disclosed the police spokesman. “It may interest you to know that Abdullahi Mai-Rafi, was a notorious bandit but repented and was working with the state government under the office of S. A. Security.”
Apart from Mai-Rafi, other prominent bandits in the state like Alhaji Idris Yayande, Sani Marji, Haruna Mazge, and Lawal Mairuwa, who had on September 4, 2019, accepted Governor Masari’s third peace accord, have reportedly reneged on their pledge. They have allegedly returned to the trenches, launching vicious attacks on villages in Sabuwa, Faskari, Danmusa, and Dandume local governments of the state.
This, among other reasons, might have forced Governor Masari to vow not to dialogue with bandits again. Therefore, it is untenable to grant blanket amnesty to a group that kills, maims, rapes, and kidnaps innocent citizens. Thus, there is a need for the state government to investigate the activities of the ‘repentant’ bandits to halt the downward spiral of insecurity.
Also, security operatives should adopt new tactics to tackle criminals. They should review strategies and acquire more sophisticated mapping and aerial surveillance technology, which will aid precision in tracking and bombarding bandits’ cells and hideouts in the state.
It is untenable to grant blanket amnesty to a group that kills, maims, rapes, and kidnaps innocent citizens. Thus, there is a need for the state government to investigate the activities of the ‘repentant’ bandits to halt the downward spiral of insecurity