The government of Niger State has raised alarm over Boko Haram terrorists in Shiroro Local Government Area of the state forcing parents to withdraw their children from schools.
The Secretary to the State Government, Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, who raised the alarm on Tuesday while giving a security update in Minna, the state capital, also said bandits have resorted to burning of farm produce in the communities because farmers reportedly refused to pay the tax imposed on them.
He said these things were happening in Kwaki, Kusaso, Kawure, Chikuba, Kurebe, Madaka, Farin-Dutse, Falali and Ibbru communities.
“They are the areas we believe the operations seem to resemble those of Boko Haram and ISWAP because these people came and tried to align with communities telling them that they need to cooperate with them, so that they would be free; they would not touch them,” he said.
“Every Friday prayers, they come and preach to the communities not to send their children to school.
“We have also seen recently, where the bandits in some locations were taxing communities to pay to access their farms.
“They are deliberate because they know that this is harvest season, so farmers would be anxious to harvest their farm produce.
“We have also seen cases where when communities refuse to pay the tax, the bandits go and set the farms on fire,” the SSG said.
Matane said Borgu Local Government Area sharing borders with the Benin Republic had also come under the activities of Islamic States West Africa Province (ISWAP), particularly around Babanna.
According to him, the security challenges were more in six local governments of Munya, Shiroro, Rafi, Mariga, as well as parts of Msshegu and Lapai sharing borders with other states.
He decried inadequate police personnel in the state, saying less than 8, 000 police personnel were manning the state, making quick response difficult whenever there were attacks.
He said the security situation in the state had worsened in the last few weeks, because of the operations going on in Zamfara and Kaduna states.
The SSG said, “The whole thing you are talking about is more of a national security architecture that would have to be provided from deployment of ICT, enhanced equipment and machinery for security personnel and their own numbers. If we don’t do this, we are just wasting our time.
“By the time bandits leave a community, we would be told here that they were on their way, they were about 200 on motorcycles, each carrying a passenger or two and they were heading towards somewhere.
“In some of these communities, there is no one formation of security that has up to a 100 personnel.
“So, what it means is that the moment they come, they overcome that place; they overrun the whole of that community.
“When we went to their camps, I was telling some people that we were just wasting our time because these people were mobile and well communicated.
“Each one of them has a satellite phone and they have motorcycles that can move in any terrain.
“When you are giving police personnel about 4 or 10 rounds of ammunition, the bandits have them in bags and they are ready to expend over a hundred rounds of ammunition.”
The SSG also revealed that 151, 380 villagers had been displaced from over 30 communities in 14 local government areas due to the activities of bandits in the last two years.
He said the figure did not include those who ran to their relatives in towns and cities or other communities and not profiled by the State Emergency Management Agency.
Giving the breakdown of the IDPs in the affected local governments, the SSG said in Rafi Local Government, 28,987 were displaced, including children and women; Shiroro (27,678); Bosso (5,897); Munya (19,712), Paikoro (11,678); Mariga (22,754); Kontagora (8,913); Magama (998); Mashegu (8,907); Wushishi (2,010); Rijau (5,809); Borgu (780); Lapai (3,789) and Lavun (2, 789).
He said the state had kept up the security responses to ensure that the bandits did not establish any permanent camp in the state and called for continuous support of the federal government to be able to deal with the situation.
Matane promised that the state government would continue to support the security agencies to provide security for the citizens.
He commended the federal government for its continuous support especially during major security operations in the state.