Residents of some states in the Northwest say governments’ approach of encouraging people to defend themselves in the fight against bandits, is yielding the desired result.
In their responses to a News Agency of Nigeria survey, they said this bold approach, which entailed enormous sacrifice by residents, had forced bandits to soft-pedal in their nefarious activities.
According to them, the hoodlums have realised that the battle is no longer between security agents and bandits but now involved the ‘people’ as active participants in the fight.
In Katsina, for instance, the State Government said several leaders of bandit groups had reached out to the authorities, seeking peace.
The Special Adviser to Governor Aminu Masari on Security Matters, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed, told NAN that most of the hoodlums had envisaged a bleak future and were willing to make amends.
According to him, the approach adopted by government targeted at ‘building the courage’ of the people, had started yielding positive results, with the rate of attacks by bandits reduced.
Ahmed said success could be achieved easily through the combined efforts of the citizens, the state government and security agencies.
He said the state government had trained 1,100 highly volunteers to serve as members of community vigilante corps, and were ready to make sacrifices for their communities to survive.
According to the adviser, this is an effort to send a message to the bandits to embrace peace or face tough time.
In Sokoto, a security expert, Sqdr. Leader Aminu Bala (retd.), observed that activities of bandits had reduced slightly in the past few months, but called for the sustenance of the current military onslaught on the hoodlums.
Also, Laminu Umar, a resident of Sabon Birni in the state, noted that the situation in the area had changed for the better.
“The ongoing military operation in our area has helped in checking the activities of the hoodlums.
“Some of the bandits have been neutralized, while others have fled because they cannot withstand the military power; the military operation should be sustained for a long time,” he suggested.
Speaking to NAN, Bello Dantsoho, a resident of Rabah in Sokoto State, also observed some improvement.
“They only storm remote areas, pick one or two persons and demand ransom before they release them.
“They have been subdued to the extent that they can no longer launch deadly operations frequently, as was the case in the past.
“This is unlike before when they attacked our people in numbers, killed, raped and stole belongings, including livestock,” he said.
Meanwhile, some religious leaders in Kaduna State have observed that insurgency had remained unabated in the state, but admitted that little success had been achieved.
One of the leaders who is also the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria in the state, Rev John Hayab, said in spite of the little success recorded, the persistence of insurgency was worrisome.
Hayab observed that the number of security agents tackling the challenge was enough but stressed that what was needed was building of the people’s confidence that would encourage sharing of useful information.
According to him, many people are still reluctant to ‘say something’ whenever they ‘see something’ around their environment.
“When you have the understanding and support of all stakeholders and the public, then you have your security beefed-up enough to unravel and tackle every security challenge.
“Only then can you proudly say you are winning the war on insurgency,” he said.
In his contribution, the Acting Administrative Secretary of Jamaatul Nasril Islam, National Headquarters, Kaduna, Malam Yusuf Bida, said enhanced welfare package for security agents on the front-line, was key.
He added that concerted media engagement efforts must also be intensified to dissuade citizens from serving as informants to hoodlums.