Abuja and Katsina — The Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, yesterday said bandits terrorising the North-west zone have killed over 8,000 persons in Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Sokoto and Niger States since the upsurge in banditry in the zone.
Aregbesola, at a town hall meeting with stakeholders on internal security and conflict resolution in Katsina, Katsina State, solicited the cooperation of stakeholders to end banditry.
In his speech titled, "You have government's ears," he said a delegation of the federal government was in Katsina to seek the cooperation of the government on how to end banditry and restore normal life, especially to the rural areas and the farming community.
He lamented that many farmers and herders have been killed with many more abandoning their farms, villages and profession due to the prevailing insecurity in the region.
The stakeholders' engagement on internal security and conflict resolutions was organised by the Ministry of Interior in collaboration with other security agencies.
The minister explained that the nefarious activities of the hoodlums had crippled the food supply chain and economy of many rural communities in the North-west region.
The minister added that transportation of goods is hampered as trucks taking cattle and farm produce to markets across the country were being attacked by the miscreants.
He said: "According to the International Crisis Group, more than 8,000 people have been killed in the states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Niger and Zamfara by these blood-thirsty criminals in the past decades.
"Their most threading attack was on April 18, 2020, on Katsina villages where 47 people were killed.
These criminals attack mostly people in the rural areas, where they kill, steal and rape without mercy. They are practically destroying the economy of rural areas and the food supply chain of the country.
"Many farmers and herders have been killed and many more are abandoning their villages and profession altogether. The time has come to put an end to these killings.
"The charge we received from the president is two-fold: the first is to put an end to banditry, while the second is to work with the government and people of the state to restore normal life, especially to the people in the rural areas and the farming community."
The minister told the stakeholders that the president and members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) are concerned about the killings, thefts and destruction being perpetuated by the criminals and assured them that the federal government will soon deal with the bandits.
"I am assuring you that all the total, brutal and ferocious might of the federal government will be brought on them. The Nigerian security machine will be unleashed in its fury, the way we have never seen before. The sickening criminal acts of these evil people will be brought to an end and all citizens will have the assurance of peace and safety once again," he stated.
Aregbesola said the security services are going after the bandits to end the killings.
He commended the stakeholders for their doggedness as well as the efforts of the local vigilantes who have put their lives at risks to protect others.
Responding, the Katsina State Governor, Hon. Aminu Masari, said the state would support the federal government in its bid to eradicate crime.