Nigeria: Anxiety in Katsina Communities After Withdrawal of Soldiers

Nigerian soldiers.
25 January 2022

Residents say bandits have blacklisted Runka for enjoying security protection, which had saved the community from their attack.

Residents of Runka town and other communities in Safana Local Government Area of Katsina State have expressed fear for their safety following the 'sudden withdrawal' of soldiers from the area on Monday.

Soldiers serving in a joint security task force were stationed at Runka, the second largest town in Safana council area, until the withdrawal.

Residents said bandits have blacklisted Runka for enjoying security protection, which had saved the community from their attack.

Safana is one of the 13 frontline local government areas in Katsina State for banditry attacks. Last year, the state government cut telecommunications network in the area among other measures to check the activities of armed criminal groups.

The lawmaker representing the area in the state House of Assembly, Abduljalalu Haruna, on Monday called for the reversal of the decision to withdraw the soldiers from the area.

Mr Haruna said the area would become a soft target for bandits without the protection of security agents.

Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, the lawmaker said he was worried that his constituents risk being attacked.

"As I speak with you now, I am making contact to address the fear and ensure that security agents return to the area tonight. I spoke with all the relevant security agents in charge of the area, they assured that they will be back in their post," Mr Haruna said.

Sani Safana, a youth leader, said a suspected bandit was spotted Monday evening at a football field in Runka, hours after the soldiers left.

Mr Safana said communities in the area in danger of attack include Runka, Gora, 'Yalilo, maikada and communities on the western fringe of Safana town, the local council headquarters.

However, when contacted, Muhammad Katsina, the Security Adviser to Governor Aminu Masari, said he was not aware of the withdrawal of soldiers from the area.

"I have to confirm from the security agencies because that may be a security strategy," he said.

Banditry kingpin terrorising Safana

PREMIUM TIMES reported last year how a notorious bandit, Usman Idris, aka 'Ruga Kachallah', set condition for peace in the area.

The outlaw demanded compensation for his burnt house and grains and the arrest of his wives as the condition for peace in the state.

Mr Kachallah is believed to be leading criminal activities in Safana Local Government Area. He blamed residents of Runka for supporting security agents to arrest his wives and burn down his house in the community.

Locals and security sources in the state told this newspaper that a large army of bandits under Mr Kachallah routinely kidnap people for ransom and rustle cattle in the area until the deployment of security personnel whose withdrawal on Monday has driven residents into anxiety.

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