The Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masarisaid the people of the state had suffered greatly from attacks by armed men known locally as bandits.
Mr Masari said more than 13,000 residents of a community under attack had been forced to flee to neighboring Niger Republic.
Katsina is one of the states in the North West region of Nigeria that has suffered heavy attacks by gunmen. Bandits attack communities, steal cattle and kidnap travelers and students for ransom.
These bandits have been accused of killing thousands of people. They also kidnapped many others in what is becoming one of the worst kidnap-for-ransom syndicates in the country’s history.
We are suffering
Mr Masari was speaking on Sunday evening in Katsina when he received his counterpart from Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, who was in the state to meet with APC delegates ahead of the party’s national primaries.
Mr. Fayemi, a former minister, is one of more than 20 candidates seeking the APC presidential ticket.
He said people in the state, especially those around the dreaded Rugu Forest, were suffering from relentless attacks by bandits.
“Your Excellency, you mentioned the insecurity here in Katsina. I want you to know that rehabilitating the rural economy most affected by insecurity is important. Our people, especially in the 13 areas bordering the Rugu forest that stretches into Kaduna and Zamfara states, have suffered tremendously. Some have moved to other states. While some have moved inland to live in certain communities as displaced residents because they have completely lost their livelihoods.
“Today, even if they return to their communities, they no longer have the economic capacity to change their lives because they have lost all their livestock, the sheep and goats belonging to the women have all been stolen. So much remains to be done to rehabilitate the economy of the rural population,” he said.
The governor said the bandits usually burned down any community they attacked as part of a strategy to cripple the people’s economy.
He gave the example of the village of Shimfida in the local government of Jibia where, after the displacement of the inhabitants, the bandits set fire to the community.
“As I speak to you, we are spending over 100 million naira to rehabilitate the village of Shinfida, which was ransacked and burned down by bandits who forced 13,500 people to move to Niger Republic. I have to suspend everything and meet the political leaders of these communities.
“I had to meet the political leaders of the community. We sent them food and started bringing them back. The soldiers are back in Shinfida. When the people of Shinfida left, the bandits burned down the village and vandalized everything. The safety and rehabilitation of these villages and communities, the restoration of their economic way of life and the provision of basic education are essential for us,” he said.
As part of efforts to support those affected by banditry, Masari said the state government had conducted a census on the number of widows and orphans.
“For us, it is very important. We conducted a census of all women who have lost their husbands. We have the list of all the orphans, widows and destroyed houses. We have already started to work with the UNDP who come to help in certain areas, in particular the education of orphans from primary to secondary and we intend to give widows financial assistance Support to start a local business,” he said.
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