For the umpteenth time, the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, has said if the country truly intended to get a hold of the deteriorating security situation, then, it must embrace multi-level policing otherwise called state police.
The governor, whose state has been under intense fire from bandits and insurgents, reiterated his recent call for the people of Katsina to procure arms and defend themselves and added his government had begun to train people to defend themselves.
While decrying the growing insecurity in the country, Masari expressed concern that the number of policemen available to his state was less than 3,000 and therefore not enough to protect the citizens.
Masari, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, who spoke in an interview monitored on national television at the weekend, therefore, reiterated his support for state police, saying there was a need for it to be accommodated in the constitution.
According to him, working with the Nigeria Police Force, his administration had been training people to defend their villages and communities.
“Knowing full well how long it will take the police to improve its capacity to be able to provide the much-needed security for villages and communities, are you saying people should fold their arms?
“If somebody slaps you, the natural instinct is to raise your hands up, and if he comes with a stick, you take a stick to protect yourself,” he said.
The president’s home state governor disclosed that this week, his government would complete the training of 500 vigilantes, who were trained by the police and armed forces, saying in the coming week, training for another 500 would be completed.
He said the target was to have 3,000 trained vigilante working with the police and other security agencies.
“The situation we have on ground is such that bandits would come to a village, kidnap and collect over N500,000 from villagers and in some cases get N5 million from them.
“And in the same village, when you say come let us contribute and train these vigilantes to defend them at night, they would not give you N20,000,” he said.
Lamenting that Katsina, which has an estimated population of between seven and eight million persons, the governor claimed presently has only 3,000 policemen.
Defending his recent call for citizens to defend themselves as the way out of the present situation, Masari argued that the efforts his administration made to achieve peace in his first two years in office could not be sustained because the same wasn’t made in Zamfara and some other neighbouring states at that time.
“I have no regret in what I said (that people should defend themselves). But what is the natural instinct of every living thing? It is to protect himself against events happening around him for him to survive.
“Let me give you a simple scenario. Katsina State as of 2006 had a population of 5.6 million, even if we are growing at three per cent, what would be the population by 2021?
“We are projecting a population of seven to eight million. Now, what is the total strength of the police in Katsina? The total strength of the police in the state is not up to 3,000. So, if you divide the number of policemen by the population, you have an average of one policeman to over 200,000 people. What form of ammunition does the policemen have?” he said.
Speaking further, Masari explained that, in his state, a local government with 34 policemen, had over 300 villages and towns to secure.
“They (police) lack logistics in terms of equipment to move around, they lack the necessary weapons and above all, they lack the technology.
“If you look at the military, how many are they in Katsina? The military is in all the states of the country, what equipment and level of technology are they applying? Look, when you are faced with reality of daily killings, daily kidnappings, daily raping and daily cattle rustling, you will understand. In Katsina, we wake up every day to these realities,” Masari added.
Lending his support for the anti-open grazing legislation, the president’s governor said, his state had a ranching programme that would cost about N12.5 billion, out of which the federal government already supported it with 50 per cent, while the state would provide 50 per cent.
“When we were growing up we had community grazing areas, where you take your sheep, goat and cattle to graze, without going to other people’s farm,” he recalled.
He, therefore, advocated that, “We should stop open-grazing; it is causing trouble,” adding that, “Anybody living in the forest, for me, is a criminal.”
About a week ago, the seemingly helpless security situation in Katsina had caused two members of the state House of Assembly to publicly shed tears while deliberating on the worsening state of insecurity in the state.
During the plenary presided over by the Speaker, Alhaji Tasi’u Maigari, the Deputy Speaker, Alhaji Shehu Dalhatu-Tafoki, in a motion of urgent public importance, decried how despite government and security agencies’ efforts, the insecurity situation in the state seems to be increasing.
Dalhatu-Taofiki, urged the government in conjunction with security agencies, to adopt a new approach and also increase the number of outposts, especially, in the affected areas to tame the menace of banditry in the state.
“The security operative need to increase their outposts across the state, especially, in the areas mostly disturbed by the bandits. The outposts in those areas are not enough; they cannot overpower the bandits, despite the huge amounts of money being spent on them,” he lamented.
Also, reacting to the motion, Alhaji Haruna Goma, a member representing Dandume Constituency, could not hold back his tears as he narrated how the cruel bandits wasted the lives of not less than 11 persons and abducted scores in Dandume recently.
Similarly, Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed, a member representing Funtua constituency, equally wept why recounting how the hoodlums terrorised their communities in the last one month, killing and kidnapping scores.
According to the lawmaker, the insecurity challenge plaguing the state was unimaginable, because about 32 out of the 34 LGAs in the state were now being threatened by the bandits.
In May, Deputy Speaker of the state, Shehu Tafoki, had also cried profusely while talking about rising insecurity in his constituency. He broke down in tears during a special sitting on insecurity by the Assembly.
He said hardly did a day go by without reported attacks across the area, adding that many had been killed, maimed and kidnapped.