Niger soldiers, not Nigerian military, helping Sokoto residents fleeing violence — Senator

Residents of Sokoto State now rely on the soldiers of Niger Republic for protection against armed bandits as Nigerian Army has completely abandoned them, Ibrahim Gobir, the senator representing Sokoto East, has said.

For this reason, he said, not less than 5,000 people in the affected areas have migrated to Niger Republic for safety.

Mr Gobir made this submission during plenary on Tuesday while contributing to a motion on insecurity.

The motion, sponsored by Sabi Abdullahi, sought urgent military action against banditry in Niger State.

Mr Gobir said the Sokoto attacks have been worse than any other parts of the country. And within the last three months, “not less than 300 people in Sokoto East Senatorial District have either been killed or kidnapped by the rampaging armed bandits on daily basis.”

“The situation in Sokoto East as far as armed banditry is concerned, is pathetic and tragic because it is only Nigerien Army that had been coming to their rescue while the Nigerian Army looks the other way round.

“Infact, based on very reliable and verifiable information from the area, many at times, that the people of the affected areas called on Nigerian Army for help and protection against the bandits, no response.

“But graciously, the Nigerien Army has been assisting in wading off the bandits, the very reason while not less than 5,000 people in the affected areas have migrated to Niger Republic for safety,” he said.

Mr Gobir disclosed that aside the 300 people who had fallen victim of banditry attacks in the area through kidnapping or outright killing, hundreds of cows and other animals worth about N2.5 billion, have been stolen by the bandits.

“Fallout of this is grinding poverty ravaging the affected people in form of serious hunger since their cows and other animals are on daily basis being stolen and even made from some of the cows they hurriedly sold.

“The situation is so bad that we only get help from Niger Republic and not from Nigeria at all, be it from the military or the Police.

“The affected people cannot perpectually be at the mercy of Nigerien soldiers and still expect to proudly see themselves as Nigerians,” he said.

He stressed the need for drastic action by President Muhammadu Buhari through the military in form of expansion of anti- banditry operation currently being carried out in Zamfara and Katsina States to Sokoto State.

Mr Sabi in his motion, lamented the daily occurrence of armed banditry in Niger State.

The criminalities by armed bandits and kidnappers is carried out mostly under the cover of the contiguous forests reserves and areas stretching from Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger States with pockets of safe havens in Kebbi and Asokoro states, he said.

“A major offensive in Katsina State alone is likely to make the armed bandits and kidnappers seek safer haven in Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states which hosts the Zurmi and Kamuku forests among others, further compounding the plight of hapless and poor communities along these forest corridors.”

“It was the earlier massive operations in Zamfara and Kaduna States that led the armed bandits to seek safe haven elsewhere, thus moving into Katsina and Niger States respectively; and some others pushing their luck to some parts of Kebbi States.

In his remark, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the security challenges are enormous but summountable.

The Senate in its resolutions, accordingly appealed to President Buhari to expand the scope of the operations to include Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger and Sokoto States and any other surrounding areas or states that the armed bandits may want to seek safe haven following the massive operation.

The upper chamber also called on the military formations and the Nigerian Police to increase their surveillance operation to track movements by these armed bandits to recent them accessing any safe haven.

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