Governor Dikko Radda of Katsina State has disclosed that his government had identified traditional rulers aiding and abetting banditry in the state and has subjected them to scrutiny.
He vowed to deal decisively with any traditional or member of his cabinet found sponsoring or aiding bandits.
Speaking yesterday at a press conference in Abuja on why the state established its own security outfit, the Community Watch Corps, the governor said the state was in talks with the federal government for possible reforms that would allow citizens, especially members of the state security agencies to acquire sophisticated weapons like AK 47 for self-defense.
According to him, the fight against insurgency is a hydra-headed monster that has refused to go away, which is why the state set up the Community Watch Corps to complement efforts of conventional security agencies in the fight against banditry.
Revealing that the state had identified traditional rulers working with bandits, Governor Radda said; “As I speak to you, there are some traditional rulers that have been identified and those ones are already under scrutiny. We are not sparing anybody. I’m telling you that even my commissioners or anybody found to be involved in any criminal activity won’t be spared.
“We are talking about the lives of Katsina people, not one individual. No single individual is more important than 10 million people, especially innocent persons in the village. We are trying as much as possible to see how we can gather a lot of information, together with the intelligence we are getting from the DSS so we can arrest and prosecute those found wanting.
“Since I became governor, there is no single day I don’t receive a report of kidnapping or people being killed and all sorts. This has been disturbing me. Sometimes it is difficult to open my phone because I know what I would be confronted with.”
On ongoing talks with the federal government to allow citizens bear arms, the governor noted that if criminals could purchase AK-47, RPG and other sophisticated weapons from the market, the citizens should equally be allowed to do so.
He stated: “It is a double-edged sword. We cannot fold our arms and say we will not protect ourselves because we don’t have the sophisticated arms that these bandits have. “We have the numbers, we have the zeal and the determination, and you should remember, if they are going for any outing, it is just like the way it was done in Borno through the Civilian JTF. They will be covered by the police and the military who are heavily armed.
“So, I think it is a concerted and joint effort. And I think gradually, we are working within what the law allows us to possess. We cannot go beyond what the law allows us to do. We are driving towards that and we are seeking reforms within the federal government in that regard.
“These people are holding it illegally, we are trying to hold it legally. Why can’t the government allow the people to hold this thing and equally confront the challenges? I am telling you they (bandits) are panicking, what this thing needs is courage, the courage to confront it and you should remember, soldiers are being killed, police are being killed. So whoever sacrifices to offer this kind of service, he cannot rule out being harmed or killed in the course of doing this assignment.”
Governor Radda further said he recruited at least 1,500 community watch officers drawn from the eight frontline local governments to join the fight against insecurity in the state.
He noted that apart from giving intelligence, the idea of local security outfits was part of measures to empower the residents to defend themselves against terrorist attacks.
The governor said the state has spent well over N7bn to procure armoured personnel carriers, 65 Hilux vehicles, 700 motorcycles and security gadgets for the Community Watch Corps Officers.
He said: “The corps officers know the locations and whereabouts of these people. Many of them witnessed the killings of their parents and how some of their sisters were raped. So they have more courage to do the job. There are also intelligent units within the corps that even the members don’t know. The reason for setting it up is to check the excesses of the community security corps and to also gather critical information.
“We have therefore come up with various committees at the state, local governments, districts and ward level. The committees must verify people renting or selling their houses and who is leasing or buying them. This is to ensure we don’t harbour criminals within the communities. As it stands today, anybody cannot just go and rent the house as he likes, whether we know him or not. Most of the bandit leaders don’t live in the bush.
“They live in our cities because it is peaceful. They will come and buy houses, and keep their wives and children. Then they will go to the bush to commit their act and come back. So if we have this ‘know your neighbour’ approach in place, it is going to help a lot in reducing the incidence of criminalities in our society,” he noted.
“They live in our cities because it is peaceful. They will come and buy houses, and keep their wives and children. Then they will go to the bush to commit their act and come back. So if we have this ‘know your neighbour’ approach in place, it is going to help a lot in reducing the incidence of criminalities in our society”.
Culled from Leadership Newspapers