Katsina: Relieving pains of insecurity via community-driven approach

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By Zubairu Idris, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

In what looked like a scene from an action movie, under the cover of darkness, gunmen stormed Government Boys Science Secondary School in Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State in December 2020.

Before security agencies would respond to distress calls, the bandits had whisked away no fewer than 300 of the students from their hostel. They spent one week in captivity.

Earlier this month, gunmen kidnapped five students of Federal University, Dutsin-Ma. Their captors are still demanding ransom as at the time of filing this report.

The above scenarios reflect the security challenge Kastina State has faced in recent years. In addition to abductions, there is also the challenge of banditry, cattle rustling, and robbery, among others.

This has continued to raise concern not only among the residents of affected communities, but also to the government and other stakeholders.

The consequences of the problem on the socio-economic lives of the people in the 34 local government areas of the state have been enormous, ranging from poverty, hunger, school drop-out, among others.

For instance, some farmers have abandoned farming activities. The implications of this need not be explained.

The most affected local governments areas are: Batsari, Danmusa, Jibiya, Kankara, Safana, Faskari, Sabuwa and Dandume.

In these areas, many of the residents have migrated to where they consider safe even when such areas lack basic amenities. The vulnerable—widows, the poor, orphans, children and the aged being the worst hit.

IDPs in Katsina

Some residents of such communities have lamented that bandits move freely with weapons in their areas, adding that sometimes they enter markets to extort the residents.

“Sometimes they kidnap young women who are unable to migrate and rape some of them.

“In some places, they also impose taxes on the residents before allowing them to cultivate crops,” residents who pleaded for anonymity told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Another resident, who gave his name as Mallam Abdullahi, said: “Sometimes, residents sleep on roof tops. Sometimes we sleep in the bush and return in the morning in our bid to escape from terrorists attack.

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“As I am speaking with you, the only people left in our area are widows, children, the aged and the physically challenged persons as all able-bodied men have fled the community.

To change this narrative, Gov. Dikko Radda, said during his inauguration on May 29, 2023, that the task of his administration would be “providing peace and prosperity for the people”.

“The insecurity issue will be paramount for this administration, and we will deploy all available resources to end banditry and criminality across the state.

“We will also engage communities in this fight to ensure that security is sustained.

“To those affected by banditry and other forms of insecurity, I assure you that my administration will do its best to rebuild your lives.

“We will also focus on your mental wellbeing and provide special support to women and girls who have endured unimaginable pain,” the governor said.

As demonstration of vow, Radda on Oct. 10, 2023, inaugurated Katsina Community Security Watch Corps (KCSWC), to complement security agencies in the ongoing fight against the menace.

Katsina Community Security Watch Corps (KCSWC),

Radda recalled that during his electioneering campaign, he traversed the 361 wards in the state and witnessed the devastating effects of insecurity on several communities.

“People have been denigrated to poor living conditions, immense psychological trauma, and a complete demolition of socio-economic development,” he said

He said in line with his campaign promises security has been the topmost priority of his administration and has invested vast resources to ensure sustainability in the fight against the criminality.

“This should come as no surprise to anyone as 22 out of 34 local governments in Katsina face severe security challenges,” he said.

Radda, therefore, said the introduction of the Community Watch Corps (KCSWC) illustrated his administration’s proactive approach to those security challenges.

“By leveraging localised knowledge and fostering trust, we are not merely addressing symptoms, but targeting the roots of insecurity in our state.

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“To our dear officers, as you step out into the field, remember that you now bear a significant responsibility.

“You are not just protectors but also role models, mediators, and pillars of support. Remember, the real essence of your training goes beyond physical readiness or tactical expertise.

“It is about the development of a character that understands the value of empathy, community cohesion, and cultural respect“, he said.

Katsina Community Security Watch Corps (KCSWC),

He urged members of the team to be guided by the core valued behind establishment of their team.

“You have been saddled with the responsibility of facing a deadly enemy who has no respect for life or peaceful existence.

“These bandits have brought pain upon our mothers, daughters, sons, and fathers, and it is our religious obligation to protect them,” Radda said.

He promised to fully support all the security agencies, the security watch corps, vigilant groups, amongst others to enable them would work together to eradicate insecurity.

The State’s Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Dr Nasiru Muazu-Danmusa, said the government would not negotiate with any criminal, but would do everything humanly possible to protect the people.

“I think Katsina has highest number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-west zone as a result of that insecurity.

“However, we are making efforts to reverse the narration by putting in place excellent strategies that will address the problem,” he said.

Muazu-Danmusa said the government has benchmarked salaries of the KCSWCs on the basis of the national minimum wage to boost their morale for effective service delivery.

He further said the government was constructing offices for the corps, has provided them with patrol vehicles, motorcycles, weapons, gadgets, among others for their effective operations.

“So, we are going in tandem with the provision of the constitution in providing them with all these things,” he said.

KCSW Operational vehicles

He said that the corps was made up of indigenes of their host communities who have been in forefront in the fight against the terrorists therefore are familiar with the terrain.

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The Commissioner of Police the Police Command in Katsina State, Mr Aliyu Abubakar-Musa, said recently the Command recorded successes in fighting banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and other criminal activities in the state.

“Notwithstanding the modest achievements, more still need to be done”, he said.

Abubakar-Musa said 1, 005 suspects were arrested in connection with 853 reported criminal cases in June, 2023, alone.

He also said the command has rescued 171 kidnap victims and neutralised five suspected kidnappers during the period under review.

The CP added that the police recovered 600 suspected rustled animals, four AK 47 rifles, six locally made guns and 517 live rounds of ammunition, among other achievements.

To ensure sustainability of the new approach, the governor also inaugurated “Security Intervention Trust Fund Committee” that would secure funds to be used in addressing those security challenges bedeviling the state.

Radda said the committee would identify prominent state indigenes and corperate organisations to solicit funds required for that purpose.

He said the committee would suggest areas where the funds would be utilised, and propose modest projects to be executed with the funds raised.

Such projects, he said, would be support the security measures in such areas as rehabilitation of victims and job creation for young persons.

Mr Aliyu Abdulkarim, a resident, advised the government to provide the corps with modern weapons and ensure that they worked in synergy with other security agencies.

He further advised the government to do everything possible to boost morale of the KCSWC personnel.

Abdulkarim also advised the neighboring states to work in synergy with Katsina by sharing intelligence, operation and resources to rid the entire zone of the unfortunate security situation.

It is expected that if the community-based approach works the people of the state would sleep with their eyes closed, while socio-economic activities would flourish more than before. (NANFeatures) (www.nannews.ng)

**If used please credit the writer and News Agency of Nigeria. 

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