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Katsina community disagrees with military over role during armed bandits’ attacks

A coalition of the Batsari Local Government Development Forum (BALDF) in Katsina State, is at loggerheads with the Nigerian Armed Forces over claims it repelled armed bandits’ attacks on Yar Gamji village last Monday, saying that the bandits not only had a field day killing 18 “defenceless” villagers in their farmlands, they also escaped unchallenged after executing their ‘barbaric’ mission.

Coordinator of the Defence Media Operations (DMO), Major General John Enenche, had in a statement last week said troops of the Nigerian Army Super Camp 4 Faskari, deployed for Operation Sahel Sanity, on 6th July 2020, received a distress call on the invasion of armed bandits at Yar Gamji village in Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State.

According to the statement, the gallant troops who were just inducted into the operation responded swiftly to the call. The troops engaged the criminals, thereby neutralized 46 bandits in the encounter, while others escaped with gun shots wounds.”

But Chairman of BALDF, Alhaji Sani Muslim, who noted that “nothing could be further than the truth”, also maintained that it is misleading for the Nigerian military to claim that troops neutralized 46 bandits during the operation, when none was actually killed.

Muslim, the leader of the group, said that while their Forum appreciates the efforts of the Nigerian Army, Air Force and Police in checkmating armed banditry in their communities, their field officers should endeavour to provide the various Services Headquarters with credible information backed up with relevant video footages and photographs.

According to him, “we thank the security agencies for their sacrifices in ensuring that peace reigns in Batsari Local Government and Katsina State for socio-economic activities to thrive. However, a lot more needs to be done, especially in intelligence gathering and quick offensive action against the bandits who have made life very unbearable for us.”

In a related development, Alhaji Mohammed Muazu, who is the District Head of Batsari, in an interview said renewed attacks by bandits have naturally instilled fear and frustration in his people.

Alhaji Muazu lamented that “people can no longer go to their farms as they used to do because of the fear of attacks. Even in the various towns and villages in the council, people sleep with one eye open. We know the government is trying its best but we shall always appeal to them to do more.”

“Currently, farming activities only take place in four villages in the whole of the council because of security challenges. The bandits killed our innocent, able-bodied men and women. Specifically, the bandits have killed at least 300 men.

“Because of the deaths, we now have no fewer than 500 widows and 1,600 orphans. Apart from disrupting our farming activities, the bandits rustled between three million and four million cows which are mainly bulls.”

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