About a week ago, a video and several photos of armed bandits riding into a town in Katsina surfaced on social media. They not only arrived at a very frightened people who resorted to cheers to escape their wrath, but the bandits also mingled freely; individually in some cases on their motorcycles without any sign of discomposure. What that video and photos prove more than anything else is the extent to which those in rural communities have been abandoned to their fate.

There were no reports of any police station being sacked or of any law enforcement agents on patrol running for cover, the bandits moved there unchallenged, ‘hung out’ with the people and calmly went away without having to worry about the police or the military responding to an SOS call or one for back up. The state governor, Rt. Hon Aminu Masari has decided to come clean and apologize for being unable to secure the lives of the people but ultimately the blame for security challenges of this magnitude falls on the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari. He has only just established a task force after all these years and that was only in response to the protests by Katsina people who poured out to the streets en masse to say they had had enough.

One thing is not in dispute, at least before then, the Buhari administration wasn’t serious about stopping the killings and nothing has reiterated this more than anything of recent than Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu’s utterances on the Monday 15th June 2020 edition of Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily programme. To use Shehu’s exact words-” SOME TRADITIONAL RULERS HAVE BEEN FOUND COMPLICIT IN COLLABORATION WITH THE BANDITS TO HARM THEIR PEOPLE”. These traditional rulers are not being suspected of doing such, they ‘have been found complicit’. The man didn’t bother telling us why they have not been arrested and made to provide the authorities with more information. Attribute the killings to whatever reason you may but the very obvious thing is that this administration doesn’t or at the very least, didn’t want the killings to stop. It took Katsina people protesting on the streets for them to set up a task force countless human lives later. Those in the rural areas had all this while been at the mercy of bandits who could stroll in at any time to wreak havoc and leave. The Condemner-In-Chief, President Buhari would then issue the usual statement ‘condemning’ the killings meanwhile they had been sitting on the names of traditional rulers that work with these bandits to kill their own people.

Save yourself the embarrassment of arguing otherwise, the Buhari administration never really wanted to stop the killings in Katsina and indeed other parts of the north. The real enemy is the one man that mobilized the people of Katsina to protest the killings, Nastura Ashir Shariff. They have arrested him and taken him to Abuja. The protests have forced them to set up a task force to save face and they don’t like that somebody is getting the people to demand that they act.

What would anyone make of the fact that those whose complicity in the killings has been established as relayed to us by none other than the President’s spokesman are free and don’t have to worry about a thing while the man that got his people to try and push the government into safeguarding their lives is the one they have arrested? 

Simple. The government doesn’t want to stop the killings and is willing to punish anyone who asks it to.

Umar Sa’ad Hassan is based in Kano 



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