By Bashir Ibrahim Funtua
Recent and nagging attacks ravaging remote villages of Faskari and Sabuwa local government areas of Katsina State have made many local civilians homeless and hopeless. People were forced to leave their homes without any destination in mind. Anxiety and agonising trauma have become a daily routine saturating the psyche of men, women and children in these communities. Here, fear and uncertainty rule, since virtually any minute,hour or day could be ones’ last. Locals are trooping day and night into urban areas where they might get safety or a shelter to rest their heads amid this trying time. Some seek refuge from primary schools with no lights, with mosquitos as neighbours, with no water, not even standard toilets or bathrooms to ease themselves when nature calls, thereby, leading to a rough and dangerous life style.
Recently, several attacks have been launched by armed bandits , senselessly killing many innocent souls with abandon, rustling large number of cattle worth millions of Naira. In some villages of Faskari and Sabuwa local governments of Katsina State, valuable property like jewelries, clothes, and food stuffs were confiscated by Fulani bandits at gunpoint. They usually storm villages ransacking houses, shops and callously molesting house members especially women. Many women were raped and kidnapped if the victims fail to give what was demanded by the armed groups. The situation has so much worsened that locals, mostly women and children are marching morning, noon, and night almost DAILY into the urban areas, thereby, further muddling an already muddled situation in the towns.
However, communities of Nasarawar Faskari, Hayin Gulbi, Kyabirsha,Gidan Alhaji, unguwar Kanya and many more were evacuated,with only confused men remaining in the villages. And the men do not stay at their homes in the night: they hide in bushes , mountains and on top of trees like nocturnal birds to avoid being remorselessly killed by the heartless creatures who usually launch their deadly attacks in the dead of night. With inside information from some local informants, the terrorists send warning messages to those men hiding in the bush, mountains or trees that they would be hunted out of their hiding places, believed to be safe zones!
The situation has so much become hopelessly worrisome that innocent civilians are being brutally killed, kidnapped and injured on daily basis.Women are raped and taken as objects of entertainment by the merciless bandits who forcefully break into houses and turn women into hostages in exchange for cows , sheep, goats or other valuables. And if the victims do not comply with the bandits’ demands, the women will be molested, harassed and raped,while other bandits stood watching and laughing at pregnant women attempting to flee! Some women reported assorted objects inserted into them after being raped!
The pattern of their attacks has now taken a different shape, whereby the armed bandits could be seen surveying the target villages before launching multiple attacks, and later coming to kill more while the previously dead are being buried.At Hayin Gulbi, over 300 residents mostly women and children were dispersed following a raid by the armed bandits who had brutally killed 13 persons and injured many and robbed the victims of cows and other valuables. Some of the villages appear like ghost hamlets as most residents have relocated to Faskari and Funtua towns of the state. You won’t see even a hen left after such recurrent attacks !
Unfortunately, Women have been in agony as most of them have become widows and their children orphans. Some pregnant women were forced to be in a premature Labour due to physical and emotional trauma caused by the bandits’ assaults. Some women gave birth in their camps with no proper antenatal care or any post delivery services. On the other hand, hunger has eternally gripped these refugees who hardly get a meal or two per day. In a temporary camp of Faskari local Government, the situation has so much worsened that a woman with at least 8 children will be given one or two plates of rice which can’t even suffice one already emaciated child. It is only with assistance from some humanitarian service organisations and some good hearted rich men that the refugees get some relief.
The lives and safety of local citizens in such villages have become a so pathetic that nobody is sure of lasting the next minute. The bandits have become the commanders whose operations determine who to survive or who to bite the dust. They have taken control of some communities, making some government structures as their operational base, transacting their evil business. Their brutal attacks have snapped the lives out of many innocent souls and cattle worth millions of Naira. For instance, 20 cows plus large number of goats and sheep were forcefully herded away in Gidan Alhaji village of Faskari. This has made many local farmers and residents sell out their livestocks mostly cattle Willy nilly for fear of losing them to the rampaging and almost unchallenged bandits.
Furthermore, the deadly attacks in the villages have caused alot of physical and mental stress to the members of such communities. Many residents of the affected areas are now in constant fear and panic as they are afraid of going back to their ramshackle homes even after a rare lull in attacks, usually lasting a week or two. Some think that their lives will be safer in refugee camp than in their torn communities. This is because they are not certain of an iota of safety in such areas even if they go back to their localities as government has scarcely made any provision for lasting security in these places.
Unfortunately, more than ten villages of Fasakari local government area of katsina state are under control of these heartless monsters. And 4 villages of sabuwa local government have been raided leading to the killing of innocent people with alot of valuable property lost to these bloodthirsty beasts. And their deadly operation lasted for many hours in these villages without being stoped or lessened by security men.Infact, no any security agent appeared during the raids. The question is where are the security personnel? Are they not armed enough to confront these Fulani bandits? The situation is deteriorating to the extent that nobody will sleep a night with the certainty that they will survive to breath the next morning air. Every now and then, people are killed, kidnapped, and maimed, with women and children mercilessly molested.
The general scenario here smacks of a people left to their fate,since these are areas where the only government presence was during elections or immunisations or the over-politicised Covid-19. Elsewhere in Zamfara, some communities have had enough and so mobilized to acquire a rifle or two to protect their lives. This is starting to replicate here in Katsina state. And if this mayhem goes unchecked by the government, resorting to self help won’t do any good to anybody.
To sum it up, it was awful for the goverment of His Excellency Aminu Bello Masari to even mull over negotiating with monsters who in the first place did test blood and money. People cry on daily basis and count their loses, and no strict measure taken by government to adress this deadly insecurity in these areas. It is high time relevant authorities brought an end to this insecurity, because the affected local citizens are being butchered and massacred on hourly basis. Such areas are becoming human abattoirs ! Unless government does the needful in protecting lives and properties of people, it will fail in its primary function as the government. There is a need of a complete clean up operation to wipe away these criminals and destroy all their camps and hideouts which are known to security agents. Let the government stop this senseless bloodshed and bring lasting peace to the state. Otherwise, when the citizens start taking up arms to protect themselves, only God knows where this madness leads- as even the leaders won’t have any hiding place,ultimately!
Funtua can be reached throug: firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily