We’ve Reduced Potency Of Bandit Attacks By 70% – Katsina Gov’s Aide
Ibrahim Ahmad Katsina is the Special Adviser to the Katsina State Governor on Security and a directing staff of the National Security Institute, Abuja. In this interview, he speaks on the impact of measures put in place by the state government to tackle the activities of bandits.
How are the current security measures put in place by the state government to contain insecurity in Katsina State faring?
With gratitude to God we can say the measures have drastically reduced banditry, especially cutting the network of terror. It is very difficult for the criminal elements now to come and kidnap people and negotiate for ransom. So they have seriously affected the business of kidnapping and ransom collection and also cut the menace of informants who often serve as the basis for kidnapping.
So, to some extent the containment order has worked. You know that every human law has limitations, and these are the things we’re trying to address. But in quantum, actually there are tremendous successes, especially the level of kidnapping itself has reduced, the level of rustling has reduced, and despite the pockets of attacks we’re seeing here and there, on a pro rata basis, we can say the containment order has reduced banditry in the state by about 70 per cent.
One tricky issue is the movement of the bandits; they rely on petrol to fuel their vehicles. Why is it that despite all these measures they still get to move?
Before, they moved in numbers of a hundred or even 300 convoy of motorcycles, but now hardly can you see a convoy of 20 motorcycles. As I said, every human endeavour has its shortcomings. There are bad elements that smuggle fuel to them despite the effort that security agents put to cut this chain. But despite that, you hardly see any attack on any community where up to 20 motorcycles are involved. The maximum number is usually between five and 10. This is against what was happening before, where a convoy of 100 to 200 would surround a village. So, whether we like it or not the measures have incapacitated the movement of the bandits. And it’s also grounded their networking activities of calling their brothers in other parts of the country to come and join them because the supply chain of fuel has been cut off.
For instance, last week, the customs arrested over 100 jerry cans that were being smuggled to the bandits. Remember how a woman was arrested who was smuggling fuel in a bag like a baby; and some have even gone into the level of putting it in travelling bags and what have you. So, unless the communities hold upon the challenge hardly would security agents do much.
The main challenge we’re facing is the connivance of bad elements in the communities that are assisting the criminal elements, but despite their sabotage, to a large extent, we’ve succeeded by about 70 per cent in reducing the potency of the criminal gangs.
Katsina has recorded only one school children abduction; that was in December last year. Since that time have you heard of any threat or attack on any school?
Threats are dynamic, and our ability to contain them is what matters.
What are you doing to contain them?
We introduced the concept of school security. I am a research fellow; I supervise the DSS and I’m also the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation at the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS). We evolved a knowledge-based approach. We conceptualised “Campus Safety and Security”, which is an upgraded version of the “Safe School Initiative” introduced by the Blair Foundation. Our own is based on the use of local context and the knowledge of the dynamics of affairs. We did it based on research as to what happened at Chibok, Dapchi and the rest. So, we improved on different perspectives and are applying that same concept in solving our problems here.
When the Kankara school students were abducted it took us less than a week to rescue them. That’s another story for another day because definitely a book must come out on the rescue mission because I chaired the negotiations and the rescue. I’ll write a book on that by the special grace of God. But the truth of the matter is that we used knowledge to understand the concept of threats; what made us vulnerable to attacks and addressed it.
We introduced “School Community Security” in every locality where a school is located. We set up school security committees composed of the school management, the village community, the parents, the vigilantes and the security agents in the area. So with community networking and vigilance you can solve any challenge and threat to school security.
That’s the key because we don’t have security agents everywhere. What you need to do is to involve the community to assist in solving the problem. Without the community we’re just exposing our security agents to danger. That’s what we’re able to do in Katsina to the glory of God; not through our effort.
There are concerns that in as much as they are bringing results, these security containment measures are adding to the hardship in the rural communities. What are you doing, especially about the markets’ closure and some other things that affect everybody?
Do you know why Prophet Abraham was great? It’s because of sacrifice. You can’t succeed without sacrifice. We know the measures maybe painful. But which one do you prefer; to make sacrifice or to suffer? There’s no enjoyment in the whole world without struggling for it. Most of these measures we’re putting are temporary to enable us understand the threat perspective and the challenges ahead of us and the factors responsible and address them. Whether we like it or not the security containment measures have assisted in reducing the potency of the criminal elements.
Now, the issue of the markets, it’s not every market that is closed. It’s the animal market that’s closed in order to stop the network for the sales of stolen cattle. And through that, I’ve told you that more than 70 per cent of rustling has been addressed.
Secondly, the issue of supply of petroleum products, I said it has reduced the potency of the vicious attacks they used to do against our people. And cutting off of network has reduced kidnapping and the network of the informants. With these measures we know there are certain pains people are feeling, but they are just for a certain period. The government is reviewing the measures from time to time. These containment measures are not permanent; they’re temporary for us to enable our security forces and the government to see to the threat perspective and the possibility of containing them through certain measures. That’s the purpose of security containment measures.
By the time we sit down and review, then we will do the needful; we will adjust where necessary and tighten up where necessary. But as I said earlier, there is no law on earth that is perfect and made for perfect results beside the Qur’an. It’s only the book of Allah that’s perfect. Human laws are full of flaws here and there; and that’s the essence of governance; to address the challenges.
So as people are complaining we’re addressing the challenges; we are addressing the concerns. But our appeal to the people is to make sacrifice. Let us team up and let them understand there is no responsible government that would introduce something that is against the welfare of its citizens.
The essence of government is service to the people. So government has introduced these containment measures as means of reducing the level of attacks against our people. If the measures achieved the desired results, then the government will review and move to the next level which we’re giving people assurance that we’re reviewing from time to time. And as the situation permits definitely one day the entire law will be repealed and something else will come up. All we need from people is understanding, cooperation and goodwill, and above all, prayer for Almighty Allah to help us to come on top of this issu