Kaduna and Katsina — Miffed by the renewed attacks, kidnapping and cattle rustling by bandits in Katsina State, Governor Aminu Masari has vowed that he would no longer negotiate with them following their failure to honour previous agreements he had with them.
The governor expressed his frustration with the bandits just as their counterparts, ravaged Kaduna communities, killing nine persons and injuring many others yesterday.
Masari recalled that the bandits had signed a peace agreement with the state government where they pledged to repent and stop banditry, but that they flouted it.
Speaking to BBC Hausa in a live Instagram interview, the governor said: "They could not honour the agreement; they betrayed us."
He noted that some of the bandits were from Zamfara and Kaduna states as well as Niger Republic.
He said he was the first governor to sign an agreement with the bandits in 2016, adding that the gunmen initially honoured the agreement but later repudiated it.
The governor said: "We choose to sign the peace agreement with the bandits so as to avoid loss of lives and property, but it didn't yield a positive result. This time around we will hand it over to security personnel.
"In our effort to honour the agreement between us, we cancelled all vigilantes and volunteer groups and we allowed them (bandits) to continue with their normal activities in the state."
He stated that his government in 2016 initiated an amnesty programme for bandits, adding that the programme was initially successful until some of the bandits reneged on the agreement and went back to kidnapping, cattle rustling and other forms of banditry.
The governor explained that some of the recalcitrant bandits started carrying out attacks, including animal rustling and kidnapping.
He said with the government's new decision, only security operatives could now grant amnesty to the bandits.
"We went through with the amnesty programme because we wanted peace to reign in the state and we did all that within our limited resources to see the initiative succeeded, but peace has continued to elude the state," he added.
Masari said the amnesty programme led to the ban on local volunteer vigilante group, or Yansakai, across the state and measures were taken to ensure that the bandits moved freely with their animals, as well as go to local markets without being harassed.
He said it was due to the lingering security challenge in the state that led the government to ask for the federal government's assistance, which led to the recent major military operation to combat the bandits.
According to him, the military operation, which includes Nigeria Air Force (NAF) personnel, has at least five fighter jets that operate between Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto states.
He noted that the operation had recorded some successes, but it lacks equipment.
Masari called for adequate provision of equipment for the success of the military operation in the state.
Gunmen Kill Nine in Fresh Attacks on Kaduna Communities
In a related development, nine persons have been killed following a fresh attack by suspected herdsmen on Anguwan Tudu and Agwalla Magayaki communities in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
The incident, according to Mr. Emmanuel Nagaiza, the youth leader of Anguwan Tudu, occurred at 5.30 a.m yesterday.
He told THISDAY that the bandits shot sporadically as they arrived in the village, forcing the villagers to scamper for safety.
He said eight people were, however, killed on the spot, while a woman who sustained serious injuries and was being rushed to the hospital, died on the way.
Nagaiza added that after attacking his community, the bandits moved to the neighbouring Agwalla Magayaki village.
He, however, stated that no life was lost as the residents of the community had fled upon hearing sounds of gunshots during the attack on Anguwan Tudu.
He explained that when the bandits discovered that the villagers had fled, they destroyed all their property, although they did not burn their houses.
Nagaiza said: "Today's (Wednesday) attack was on Anguwan Tudu and Agwalla Magayaki. But the killings took place in Anguwan Tudu because when residents of Agwalla Magayaki heard sounds of gunshots in Anguwan Tudu, they fled their homes. The attackers burnt all their property, but they didn't burn houses.
"Anguwan Tudu was attacked about 5.30 a.m by herdsmen.
"They were well armed with guns, machetes and sticks. As soon as they came, they started shooting sporadically; we had to run to the bushes for our dear lives.
"Unfortunately, eight people were killed on the spot. A woman that was being rushed to the hospital following injuries, died on the way. As I am speaking with you, we are preparing for the burial of nine people killed by these murderers.
"We saw the attackers and we know them. We can identify them. We have been living peacefully with the herdsmen in our community.
"In the whole of Kajuru, there is no place where the herdsmen live more comfortably than in Anguwan Doka.
"We don't know what we have done to deserve this brutal attack. They have turned their back against us."
The youth leader also called on the government and security agencies to stop the killings.
He said residents of three neighbouring communities, Idanu, Anguwan Rana and Anguwan Mudi had fled their homes following previous attacks by herdsmen.
In the past three weeks, many people have been killed following attacks on communities in Kajuru.
Many of those who were rendered homeless in the attacks are said to be taking refuge in five IDP camps in the area.
The spokesman of Kaduna State Police Command, Mr. Muhammed Jalige, was yet to respond to a text message sent to his mobile phone and the police/media WhatsApp platform, when contacted on the issue.
However, the Chairman of Kajuru Local Government Area, Mr. Cafra Caino, confirmed nine people lost their lives in the attack.
He said the timely intervention of security operatives prevented more casualties in the attack.
He said: "We have once again been set back in our confidence building effort and peace engagements after Tudu village in Agwala Dutse general area was attacked this morning.
"It is confirmed that nine lives were lost in the attack. A detailed inventory of casualties is being taken.
"My heart goes out to all the families affected; may God grant the souls of the victims, eternal rest.
"The position of Kajuru LGA remains that all communities must take recourse to the law as against engaging in these killings and reprisals.
"I also passionately implore all and sundry to unite to win this war against criminality in our local government council.
"The council will not relent in its commitment to end the violence but success can only be achieved with the support of every peace-loving citizen."