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Waves of ‘bandit’ massacres on Next Level Train.

By Femi Oluwasanmi
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While the government continue to combat the global pandemic which has claimed the lives of over 400, 000 people worldwide and more than 300 in Nigeria, the news of hienous and horrendous killings continue to spread at an unprecedented height to the extent that people are afraid to sleep with their two eyes closed in some part of the country because of this menace. Particularly, in the Northern part of the country where bandits, terrorist and other criminal gangs have sent so many people to the early grave and distoryed property worth millions of dollars.

On 28th May, 2020, the news of the killing of over 74 people in an attack lunched by the bandits on Garki, Dan Aduwa, Kuzari and Katuma, all in Sabon Birni Local Government of Area of Sokoto State flooded the media space with different condolence messages from the sympathizers to the families of the departed souls.

While commiserating with the people, the Governor of the State, Hon. Aminu Tabuwa stated that the development is most discomforting considering the fact that he and the entire security architecture of the state had on Tuesday visited the area and had fruitful discussions with the traditional leaders and other stakeholders on how to nip this unfortunate incidents in the bud.

Days before the visitation, the bandits had killed two people in a foiled attack by the security agents and injured secores before they finally fled to the nearby forest after hours of gun battle with the Security agencies. It was this incident and the need to give hope to the people that made the governor to lead the whole State security arhitecture to the scene. Unfortunately, his visitation and the one of the State security architecture do not deter the bandits from lunching their nefarious attacks.

This also seems to be the experience of the inhabitants of the Southern Kaduna after the State governor, Mr Nasiru El-rufai paid them a condolence visit over the death of over 50 people killed by the bandits in the area on 1st March.

During the visitation, the Governor apologised to the people for the attack and promised to eliminate the bandits. Unfortunately, the bandits have continue to rain terror on the people despite the threat from the Governor.

In fact, on 4th June, an umbrella body of southern Kaduna natives, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, SOKAPU, said 30 decomposed bodies of their natives, were in the bushes and no one could go near for fear of reprisals since the gunmen struck in Tudu village of Agwala Dutse general area in Kajuru Local Government Area, of the State on 3rd June.

The same story is told of six villages namely:- Tungar Malan, Manyan Karaje, Tungar Arne, Dangodon Maiyakane, Dangodon Mai Masallaci and Boleke in Maru and Talata-Mafara Local Government Areas of Zamfara State where Twenty-one people were killed by armed bandits with the intent to rustle cows on 2nd and 3rd June 2020.

Like wise the experiences in Kano State, Benue State among other areas where the wave of bandit mascared has continue to accelerate at an unprecedented speed.

In some places, their activities have led to the loss of property running into billions of naira, crippled the social and economic activities. While, in some areas, the villagers have to seek their permission and consent before conducting wedding or naming ceremonies or even have a market day.

For instance, a resident of Eastern Sokoto, professor Nasiru Gatawa while pleading for the quick intervention of government in the ongoing "killing pandemic" alleged that people in the area now seek permission from the bandit before doing anything.

Even, some have left their farm land including their harvest to the bandits in scrambling for safety. The situation has degenerated to the level whereby fear seems to have become a "common currency" as nobody knows who or where will be the next target of attack.

This portrays a great danger for the nation because it can lead to famine if not quickly addressed. Specifically, considering the speed at which the violence is gradually turning the states that are considered to be the food basket of the nation to basket of violence.

Just like the Boko Haram crisis which has claimed the lives of over 30, 000 people, distoryed property worth billions of Naira, displaced millions of people now living like reguee in their father's land since its commencement in 2009, the speed at which this banditry crisis is moving can breed dreaded terrorist groups if not confronted with concerted response.

Concerted response, should include meetings with traditional leaders, local government chairmen, and other stakeholders at the grass roots to form an anti-criminal squad that will include the police and her sister agencies with bases at the village level across the affected areas.

While at the broader level, government should roll out programmes that will reduce illiteracy, poverty, unemployment and increase sensitization at all levels so that the labour of our heros pass will not be in vain. Because in a state of insecurity to achieve economic development, progress and unity will be difficult.

Femi Oluwasanmi writes from Ibafo, Ogun State