By Abdul Usman
Thousands of youths on Tuesday in Katsina took part in a peaceful protest asking President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Aminu Bello Masari to resign. They voiced reservations over rising insecurity across the state, the North West and Nigeria at large.
The youths, under the auspices of Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), said that the federal government and the North West state governors had failed to tackle the spate of killings by bandits in the region. Similar protest was launched in Niger State where the protesters called for action by the federal government to stem the rising insecurity.
Responding to the protest in Katsina, which is his home state, President Muhammadu Buhari asked the people to be patient but quickly added that taking over the streets by the youths in protest would distract the military operatives deployed to the state to tackle the bandits. Daily Trust reports that yesterday’s protest was the fourth in the series by residents of Katsina State over rising insecurity in the state in the last one month.
There were protests at Daddara town in Jibia LGA, Yantumaki in Danmusa LGA and Yankara in Faskari LGA. During yesterday’s protest, the youths who came from all the 34 local governments of the state planned to converge at the Kangiwa square, along kofar Soro, at about 8am, with a view to take their plight to the government house. However, while approaching the venue, most of the roads leading to the take-off point were blocked by security agents, a development that forced the protesters to march from different directions. The youths carried placards with different inscriptions like ‘End the Katsina killings now,” ‘Buhari/Masari resign now, you cannot protect us,’ ‘Banditry and kidnapping are our monsters not corona,’ and ‘Stop the bloodshed,’ among others.
Police commissioner warns protesters
The Katsina State Commissioner of Police, Sanusi Buba, who intercepted the protesters on their way to the government house, said the peaceful manner of the protest was commendable. He, however, advised them not to allow themselves to be used by some miscreants
According to him, “All stakeholders are concerned about the insecurity. Government is deeply worried and is doing its best over the security challenges. “There were times when 17 councils were faced with insecurity in Borno; it was a time when people were not allowed into mosques and markets until they were checked to see if they concealed explosives. There was a time when we had bombs in Abuja and Maiduguri. “This same challenge (insecurity in Katsina and other places) shall become history. “Don’t allow people to use you for their selfish interests; if you allow this peaceful protest to escalate into something else, you have no permit to do that…If you allow it you will bear all the consequences. “Don’t instigate people against the government,” he said.
We’re angry — Katsina youths
Despite the blockage, the protesters in Katsina moved on foot through Kofar Durbi to GRA roundabout but along the road, some hoodlums tried to cause confusion by attacking them and setting ablaze some of their banners. The long procession, which was billed to terminate at the new government house in Katsina had to end abruptly as all the roads were sealed by policemen and DSS operatives. Some leaders of the protesters who took time to address the procession berated the President Buhari administration’s alleged failure to stop killings.
The North West Vice-Chairman of the coalition, Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi who led the youths called for the overhaul of Nigeria’s security architecture. According to him, “The rise in the spate of banditry, kidnappings and bloodshed in places such as Faskari, Danmusa and Batsari, lately, has become a major trying point for everyone but the authorities have remained detached from reality.
“The administration’s various attempts to reassert public confidence with repeated rhetoric of being on top of the situation seems increasingly discordant as the violent attacks, killings and kidnaps become more regular and calls for protests becoming overwhelmingly loud and widespread,” he said. Also speaking, Lukman Umar who is the Katsina State Chairman of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), said Katsina, which was once the centre of peace has been plunged into avoidable chaos. “The audacity of the bandits is appalling. They sack villages and annihilate the people in broad daylight. “They rustle cows, raze markets and reduce houses to rubble. They destroy farms and pillage resources. “They rape women and abduct men and demand a ransom their relations cannot afford,” he said.
Be patient with us — Buhari
President Buhari on Tuesday appealed to the people of Katsina State to be patient and supportive of the ongoing military operations in the state. In a statement by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, Buhari said the armed forces were capable of dealing with the challenges of banditry and terrorism. Buhari, who warned that taking to the streets for protest could distract the military operations, urged Katsina indigenes not to give up on the military “which over the years have a strong track record of quelling crises once given enough time.” According to him, “The major forests in North Western Nigeria have been identified as home to the bandits in the region. The operation will clear all these forests.” The presidency urged more patience as the military took appropriate steps to block gaps being exploited to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens.