The Sarkin-Ruman Katsina and District Head of Batsari, Tukur Mu’azu Ruma, has said fleeing bandits from the neighbouring Zamfara State were infiltrating and taking over farming communities and villages within Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State.
He explained that bandits from Zamfara and Kaduna states who were suffering from starvation as result of the ongoing onslaught against them by security personnel, were ransacking communities within his chiefdom to steal foodstuffs and other valuables belonging to residents.
The traditional ruler, who raised the alarm in an exclusive interview with THISDAY at his palace in Batsari, expressed worries that many farmers in the local government might not harvest their crops due to the nefarious activities of the fleeing bandits.
Ruma noted that the pillaging bandits that were displaced by security agencies in Zamfara State, had formed different enclaves in communities bordering Runka Forest and other adjoining forests in the area where they “come out daily” to attack innocent citizens in the night, particularly along Batsari-Jibia Road.
He recalled that the bandits recently invaded Yasore community in the area where they massacred 11 farmers and left many others with varying degrees of injuries, adding that the hoodlums razed down many houses and shops and carted away foodstuffs worth millions of naira.
He said: “As a result of security measures taken against the bandits by the state government, especially the shutdown of telecommunication services, the bandits are suffering from starvation so they are attacking our communities and stealing foodstuffs from residents.
“Recently, they attacked the Yasore community and killed 11 farmers, burnt their local silos and houses. After the attack, these criminals stopped those who survived the invasion from accessing their farms in order to harvest their crops.
“Now, they (bandits) are the ones harvesting their sesame, millets, maize, guinea corn and other crops. It is sad that these bandits killed people in the community and they can’t allow those that survived to harvest their crops. I have informed security agencies about the ugly development.”
The monarch added that: “All the bandits that are displaced by security personnel from Zamfara have migrated to my chiefdom. The fleeing bandits have formed different camps within the chiefdom but we have informed security agencies.”
Apart from Yasore, he said, farmers in Duba, Sabon-garin Dunburawa, Bakin-ragi and Labo communities were facing similar security challenges as according to him residents were finding it cumbersome to harvest their crops.
Consequently, the traditional ruler raised the alarm over the impending food crisis in the state, especially in frontline local government areas as a result of the security challenges.
According to the monarch, there is a looming food crisis in the state as farmers in the local government are unable to go to farms due to banditry.
He admonished his subjects to provide reliable information needed by the police, armed forces and other security agencies for the total defeat of the bandits.
He insisted that there is an urgent need by security agencies to strengthen intelligence gathering, establish not just the identities, plans and locations of the criminals, but to actively disrupt their capacity to organise and attack the citizens.
“You are aware of the immense security challenges across the state. The consequences of these security deficits have devastated the rural economy, taken lives and property and this may lead to a food crisis in the state.”
He therefore called for the deployment of more security personnel, whom he described as grossly inadequate, to farming communities across the local government to tackle banditry as well as to enable farmers to harvest their crops in the areas.
Ruma, however, said the Security Containment Orders signed by the state governor, Aminu Bello Masari, to tackle banditry in the state are already yielding results.
The Sarkin-Ruman Katsina added that the Masari-led administration has been able to fight banditry by suspending telecommunications services in 13 local governments, saying the move has helped to cut off communication between the bandits and their informants.