Security challenge has become a global issue, the need for all hands to be on deck to tackle it has become necessary, especially in the African Sahara region where banditry activities are thriving daily.
In Nigeria, the persistent menace of raids, killings, kidnapping for ransom and cattle rustling has become a concern to citizens, as it threatens the internal security of the land as well as crippling socio-economic activities.
Though, several measures have been taken and billions of naira expended by the government to curtail the threat of banditry, all has failed and in turn, look like adding fuel to an existing flame.
It is in light of this, that the North West states of Nigeria and its neighbouring Maradi Region of the Niger republic had a multi-lateral security meeting on how best to confront the hooligans more offensively and efficiently to end the onslaughts.
The meeting was held at the instance of the Governor of Maradi region, Alhaji Schaibou Aboubacar and Governor Aminu Bello Masari as the host governor, also in attendance was the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the deputy governor, Zamfara State, Senator Hassan Muhammed Nasiha and the deputy governor of Kebbi State, Col. Samaila Yombe (Rtd).
Consequently, the governors deliberated on the substantial proportion of the citizens of the region partaking in animal husbandry or rearing as a vacation for their livelihood, infiltrated by criminal elements leading to the menace of cattle rustling, armed banditry, kidnapping for ransom and proliferation of small arms, light weapons and ammunition.
Part of the resolution reached in a communique issued after the meeting was the need for Operation Haderin Daji to seek Defence Headquarters clearance to meet and develop a unified strategy way to combat the common security challenges in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and the Kebbi States.
Accordingly, they also endorsed the need for regular stakeholder meetings involving all the heads of security agencies in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states, including Maradi and Tahoua regions, to be hosted by the headquarters of Operation Hadarin Daji and facilitated by the governors of the affected States.
The communique further recommended that in the event of an express directive of a clearance operation, once it is started, it should be coordinated by land and air, unstoppable until it reaches its final point:
“For efficient and credible intelligence information dissemination and security management inclusiveness, the affected State Governments are recommended to see to the establishment of emergency call centres and community-based structures. Relatedly, synergy and cooperation between contiguous local governments should also be enhanced to further facilitate intelligence sharing.
“Furthermore, the meeting recommends an inter-connectivity of all the emergency call centres across the participating States and Maradi region for broader intelligence sharing.
“In the light of the bilateral arrangement on the pursuit of criminals up to 30 km by security agents across each other’s border between Nigeria and the Niger Republic, the meeting recommends appropriate review of the ECOWAS Article on the movement of persons and arms,” the Communique stated.
The communique also considered the significance of the role of Traditional Rulers in security management and recommended periodic sittings of selected traditional rulers from the affected States to share information and exchange ideas on security management from time to time.
Frowning at the way some media practitioners reported banditry to the general public, portraying bandits and other criminals as heroes, it, therefore, recommends that the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) should appraise the situation and reverse the trend, for the good of the people.
Noting further the overwhelming challenges being faced by security operatives and strangely appealed to the Federal Government of Nigeria and the National Government of Niger Republic to deploy more resources to the security manning the affected corridors.
To have sustainable and simultaneous operations across the States and region, the communique also stressed the need to provide adequate and sustainable logistics such as petrol, oil, labour, spare parts and rations to the personnel.
Observing also the rampant use of high-powered motorcycles such as Boxer by the bandits and strongly proposed the need to ban the importation of such motorcycles for 24 months, noting the negative perception of some people during military operations of this nature, and then approved the desire to educate the general public on the inevitability of collateral damage
It also acknowledged a continuous improving synergy between the Customs and Immigration establishments in the affected four States and Maradi Region, emphasizing the need to enhance collaborative efforts between both Countries Nigeria and the Niger Republic to reduce arms and drug trafficking to the barest minimum
The Communique states, “For an all-inclusive effect, there is a need to include Kaduna and Niger States in any planned operations, since they share the common forest with the affected States:
“The meeting unanimously resolved on the need for it to be held on a rotational basis quarterly, and the next meeting has been agreed to hold in Zamfara State. Furthermore, the Joint Operational Secretariat of the meeting has been resolved to be temporarily domiciled at Katsina, Katsina State for implementation, monitoring and evaluation of decisions/resolutions; and then stressed the need for continued prayers by all and sundry for the Almighty Creator’s intercession to bring final succour to our people and the Nations of Niger and Nigeria.”
In his welcoming address, Governor Aminu Bello Masari equally acknowledged the presence and roles of the Royal Fathers, Security Agencies and other critical stakeholders in the fight against banditry.
Giving a rundown of the State Government’s efforts on kinetic and non-kinetic measures towards addressing the security challenges, reiterating that the State Government’s recruitment drive and training of vigilante personnel for their familiarity with the terrain and to hunt the criminals in their hideouts.
Governor Masari then stressed the need for governments to continue exploring better ways and strategies that would guarantee peace and socio-economic development of the people, urging participants to think very well and offer credible tips and concrete suggestions that would assist the affected State Governments in collaboration with the Security Agencies to bring the needed respite to the people.
Also speaking, the convener of the meeting, the Governor of Maradi region, Alhaji Shaibu Aboubacar, appreciated the warm reception accorded to them by the Katsina State Government, observing further that the residents of the two countries have been put in serious difficulty, especially the border communities where armed bandits and kidnappers on the prowl.
He, therefore, explained the need for the meeting to have a formidable position that would rid the threat in the region, stressing that individual States were doing their best to stem the surge which in most cases inadequate, as he commended the security agencies for their efforts in containing the security challenges, and appealed to delegates to open up and proffer workable suggestions.
On his part, the governor of Sokoto State, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal also commended the governors for attending the multilateral meeting to discuss issues bordering on the progress and development of the people.
He further expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and Muhammad Bazoum for giving the participating States the leverage to meet and interact, urging them to seek the understanding and support of their colleagues in the Sahara Region to face the security challenges head-on.
The governor of Zamfara State who was ably represented by his deputy governor, Senator Hassan Muhammad Nasiha, also observed that for over a decade, the North West states have been bedevilled by banditry activities that has eroded the socio-economic growth of the societies.
Affirming that the State Government has undertaken peace and reconciliation processes and enacted a law to punish recalcitrant criminals, which led to the surrendering of arms by some bandits.
While appealing for a synergy to checkmate bandits’ relocating to other States that have not been reconciled with, the Deputy Governor expressed Zamfara State’s readiness to implement resolutions reached,
Similarly, the governor of Kebbi State also spoke through his deputy, Col. Samaila Yombe (Rtd), expressed concern about the insecurity facing the region and further stressed the need for synergy between security agencies, to guarantee victory over the criminals.