Niger State governor Abubakar Sani Bello has disclosed that this year alone not less than 300 communities have been invaded by bandits and 200 people have been kidnapped.
He disclosed this to State House correspondents yesterday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
According to him, about 165 civilians and 30 local vigilantes were also killed by the rampaging bandits.
He, however, expressed optimism that the situation will be brought under control in the next two weeks.
He said, “In January this year alone, we suffered not less than 50 reported attacks and loss of lives, between 1st and 17th January.
“Within the same period, not less than 300 communities have been invaded by bandits. The number of people kidnapped is 200, including three Chinese nationals. We also lost some security personnel. Their number is 25.
“Unfortunately, we lost about 165 civilians and 30 local vigilantes. So, it’s a very dire situation that we have been battling in the last few weeks since the beginning of this year.
“But I’m very optimistic with the kind of zeal I have seen from our security agencies and all services. I’m very optimistic that the situation will be addressed.
“And hopefully, we should get to a very peaceful state within the shortest possible time.”
The governor said there is still a lot of work to do as they share borders with Kaduna, Zamfara, and Kebbi states.
According to him, these bandits have the habit of hibernating between forests, moving from Zamfara to Kebbi, and Kebbi to Niger. He said they take advantage of the cattle routes which they already know.
“They move on motorcycles. And most of the areas and communities they attack have no access roads. So, you cannot drive there. So, our response time is slow.
“But going forward, there will be new strategies which I earlier mentioned. It will help us. But I can’t disclose some of those strategies. But basically, the states of Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi would have to work together to address the situation. What I realise is that they have been taking us on a merry-go-round. When we deal with them in Niger, they move to Kaduna. When Kaduna deals with them, they move to Katsina. They have been hibernating in the forest. Some of these operations need to be handled simultaneously so that we get the result.
“We are not happy and we are sad with the developments in these states. We are doing whatever we can, using kinetic and non-kinetic efforts to see that we address the present situation.
“As we go on, we will try to update you from time to time on progress being made in this fight,” he said.
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