Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State in northwest Nigeria on Thursday said the nation’s security forces are not properly armed and are largely overstretched as a result of other security concerns across the nation.
The governor, who lamented the growing insecurity in his state, despite being President Muhammadu Buhari’s home-base, alleged that the situation has become so bad that bandits and kidnappers have infiltrated communities in Katsina and are recruiting new members with as low as N5,000, along with drugs and other intoxicants to launch onslaught against innocent citizens in the state.
But the Inspector General of Police, Alkali Usman Baba, has said the force was working with the Federal Ministry of Justice to ensure speedy prosecution of arrested bandits and kidnappers across the country in order to serve as deterrence to other criminals terrorising the nation, even as he hinted at plans by the police to recruit 20,000 more men across the 774 local government areas of Nigeria.
Also, the Zamfara State Police Command said it has rescued five (5) out of the 73 abducted students of the Government Day Secondary School, Kaya in Maradun Local Government Area of the state.
In the same vein, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) on Thursday, said 900 more terrorists surrendered to troops in the north-eastern part of the country, bringing the number of insurgents that have so far surrendered in the past three weeks to 5, 890.
Speaking while receiving the police IG, Baba, at the Government House, who was on a courtesy visit, Masari said security personnel were grossly inadequate to tackle the nefarious activities of the bandits and other criminals terrorising the state.
He explained that security personnel, particularly, the police were not enough to police Katsina with an estimated population of about eight million people, while the police haveonly 3,000 personnel in the state.
In addition, the governor claimed that the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) did not have modern equipment to combat criminality, especially, banditry across the frontline local government areas of the state.
His words: “From my assessment of policemen in the local government areas, I don’t think we have up to 3,000 policemen in the entire state. Let us assume that they are up to 3,000, what it means is that we have a policeman for every 200,000 people. How effective can that policeman be? Then, we come to arms and ammunition, what do the police have?
“And when it comes to modern equipment for combating criminality, how much of it do the police have? And the same thing goes for all other security agencies.
“They are in South-south battling militants; they are in the Southeast battling IPOB; they are in North East battling Boko Haram and ISWAP and insurgents and they are in the North West battling bandits.”
He, however, pointed out that, “Here, the bandits have infiltrated the communities recruiting young men with as low as N5,000 along with drugs and other intoxicants. We must stop the culture of not reporting criminals, because of tribal or family affiliations.”
Earlier, Baba, who assured the governor of speedy prosecution of arrested bandits and kidnappers, said the Nigerian Police Force under his watch had commenced plans for the recruitment of additional 20,000 policemen across the 774 local government areas of the country.
“We will recruit from every local government in the country. It is the directive of the President that we should recruit 10,000 for 2020 and another 10,000 for 2021 across all the 774 local government areas. We are going to redeploy these policemen to their local government areas to fight crime,” said.
According to him, “I came in as IGP at a very difficult time. When I came in, it was in the South East and South-South that there were series of killings, including the killing of security personnel and our places of work destroyed.
“While the South-South and South East are stabilising, the situation in the North Central and the North West is getting worse. We are going to work harder to see that citizens go about their lawful businesses unmolested”.
However, in a statement by the Public Relations Officer, Zamfara Command, Superintendent Muhammad Shehu, the police said the ongoing search and rescue mission had started toyield positive result as Five (5) of the abducted female students were yesterday rescued.
Shehu noted that the victims were medically checked at the hospital, debriefed by the Police and had been reunited with their families.
According to him, the Commissioner of Police, CP Ayuba N. Elkana, has assured the people that, the ongoing search and rescue effort would be sustained, so that the remaining abducted students would be rescued hale and hearty.
Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters, which disclosed that addition 900 more terrorists had surrendered to troops, said those that surrendered included Boko Haram commanders, fighters and their families.
It said 560 of them were handed over to Borno State government after “thorough profiling” even though 40 insurgents were killed while 20 others were arrested by troops.
Also, in a related development, troops of Operation Delta Safe have reportedly deactivated 33 illegal refining sites and 46 refining units in Imo, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Delta States.
At a media briefing in Abuja, Director, Defence Media Operations (DDMO), Brigadier-General Bernard Onyeuko, said 900 more terrorists surrendered following intensified air interdiction and artillery bombardment of their enclaves by ground troops and the air force.
He said a total of 52 assorted arms and 1,977 rounds of 7.62mm assorted calibre ammunition including AK-47 and FN rifles with magazines, hand grenades, commando mortar guns, locally fabricated rifles, Dushka anti-aircraft guns, dane guns and Nigerian Police rifles among other items were recovered from them, while the operations held between August 12 and September 2, 2021.
“The counter insurgency efforts of the troops through kinetic and non-kinetic operations compelled the terrorists to surrender in large numbers. Suffice to note that within the last few weeks, more than 5,890 terrorists comprising foot soldiers and their commanders have surrendered with their families to own troops in the North-east zone,” he said.
Onyeuko explained that a total of 565 Boko Haram terrorists comprising 12 commanders, their family members were handed over to the Borno State government in Maiduguri for further management after thorough profiling.
Speaking, also, on the Jos crisis, Onyeuko said troops of Operation Safe Haven had arrested 20 suspects allegedly involved in the attacks, which resulted in the killing of 26 travellers at Rukuba town in Jos North LGA of Plateau State.
He said the arrested persons had been handed over to the appropriate prosecuting agency for further necessary action, adding that the military had sustained its operations against armed bandits in the North-west within the period under review.
“Troops within the period arrested criminal informants/collaborators, whose activities have been causing setbacks for own troops’ operations in the zone.
“A total of 15 armed bandits, two armed robbers were neutralised, 13 bandits informants arrested, 15 motorcycles were recovered, two AK 47 rifles recovered, 33 kidnap victims rescued, 66 criminal elements were arrested and some vandalised railway sleepers/tracks were recovered within the period in focus,” he said.
From the South-south, Operation Delta Safe claimed the raid on illegal refineries within the period of conducting series of anti-illegal oil operations, included such places as Opuoma and Mmahu communities in Ohaji-Egbema LGA of Imo State; Sand Community in Akwa Ibom State; Madangho Creek in Warri South West LGA, Ndoro and Beneside Communities in Burutu LGA as well as Yokri-Egbe Seashore, all in Delta State.
Other operations were executed at Ibaa in Emohua LGA, Iyala, Buguma and Cawthorne Channel Creeks as well as Samkiri, Orutoru and Dema Abbey Communities, all in Rivers and Delta States.
“During the operations, troops discovered and deactivated a total of 33 illegal refining sites with 46 illegal refining units, 94 boiler ovens and nine reservoirs.
“Also, a cumulative total of 139 metal storage tanks and 63 dugout pits, all laden with 440.2 barrels and 1,637,500litres of illegally refined AGO as well as 62.2 barrels and 572,000litres of stolen crude oil and shelter stations were discovered and treated accordingly,” he said.
He noted that other illegally refined products intercepted and immobilised were a wooden boat used for transportation of illegal oil products, 321 polythene bags, 16 drums and 15 jerry cans laden with illegally refined petroleum products.
Brigadier-General Onyeuko said the Armed Forces of Nigeria remained steadfast in the fight against all forms of criminality in different parts of the country.
“The military high command appreciates the continuous sacrifices of the troops in the various theatres of operation across the country. It salutes their courage, resilience and commitment towards achieving sustainable peace in the country.
“We appreciate the general public and the press for their continued support and further encourage all to avail the armed forces with credible and timely information that will facilitate proactive engagements in all the theatres of operation across the country,” he said.
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja, Francis Sardauna in Katsina and Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto