Alhaji Mustapha Muhammad Inuwa Alhaji Mustapha Muhammad Inuwa is the Secretary to the Government of Katsina State and chairman of the Dialogue and Amnesty Committee.
In this interview he spoke on why the activities of bandits have persisted in the state despite government’s efforts.
He also expressed hope that with the recent intervention by the Federal Government, banditry would become a thing of the past in Katsina, among other things.
As the chairman of the security committee in Katsina State, how far have you gone in ensuring that the activities of bandits are drastically reduced, if not eradicated? In terms of finances and our relationship with the so-called repentant bandits, the result is not what we want.
Majority of them are not sincere in respecting the terms of the peace pact. They betray the government in various ways, as far as this agreement is concerned.
It is only a few of them you can trust. These are the issues, really. My greatest issue now has to do with the so-called repentant bandits because we trusted them and supported them in various ways. In the end, they failed us.
Once you allow these people to possess firearms, there is no way they can stop these things. One person among them could have a battalion of 300 youths, all with firearms. Now, tell me how he can control them, even if you entered into an agreement with him.
They are used to getting money through the rustling of animals or kidnapping. When they claim to have stopped their nefarious activities, what do they get? Do they continue selling the already stolen animals for survival or what? And you cannot continue to maintain him with 300, 200 or 50 people, depending on the strength and availability of the firearms they have.
So, honestly, I believe the peace pact between the Katsina State Government and the bandits was a temporary relief.
The only permanent solution to this problem is to face them. Government should be decisive and ensure that they surrender all their firearms. And they cannot do this under the so-called peaceful arrangement.
They have to be forced to do it. The only way to achieve this is by allowing the military to engage them and deal with them decisively.
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the military to engage the bandits; what do you expect in the next few weeks? From the way things are going, we are expecting progress in this fight.
This is because we never got this kind of response from the Federal Government despite our clamour for intervention. We are happy with what the Federal Government is doing. We hope the action of the security men will be sustained for a reasonable time. We support them fully and are ready to see that they succeed in this operation.
Some people are complaining that the presence of soldiers in southern Katsina did not stop the bandits from attacking communities. They say this is happening because you politicised the issue of security in the state. What is your take on this allegation? Maybe they don’t understand the role of the Secretary to the State Government.
The Directorate of Security is under that office. I am involved in executive meetings because we have so many departments, cabinet and political offices, and so on. So, being a practising politician is not the issue, what is important is the office I am running.
This is not peculiar to Katsina; in most states, security matters are under the office of the SSG. What is important is whether you are able to discharge your responsibilities or not. You see, in Katsina we have never politicised the issue of security.
That is why we invited even those from other parties to discuss issues, including security. It is even wrong to politicise the issue of security because, like we always say, when the bandits come, they don’t ask for your membership card of a political party.
They kidnap anybody, whether you are from the ruling party or the opposition. It is certainly naive for anybody to politicise security issues or the COVID-19 pandemic.
They have no consideration for faith or political lineage. If any does that, I believe it is his own problem, but as a government we don’t do it.
Are you saying the Katsina State Government should not take the blame for the failure to end banditry? The Katsina State Government has been doing its best to end the activities of bandits. But you see, the governor has a limitation when it comes to dealing with Federal Government’s apparatuses like the military, police and other security agencies.
We have been clamouring for intervention in the area of security. We raised many issues regarding the insecurity in Katsina. We held meetings with top military officers and other stakeholders and told them our positions.
I can say that as a government, we felt frustrated because people were accusing us of not doing what we were supposed to do. But we are doing our best; it is only that we have limitations.
One fundamental issue our people don’t seem to understand is that the role of the state government, as far as security is concerned, is limited.
The governor is the chief security officer of his state, but does he have control over security agencies? Can the governor buy equipment, machinery and so on, for security agencies? People should understand the role the Federal Government is supposed to play in tackling security issues. What the state government is doing in most cases is complementary; it assists.
That is why sometimes when you have a governor who is not in good terms with the Federal Government, you find a lot of things happening to his detriment in the achievement of security in his state. But when he is in a good relationship with them, you find the security agencies working harmoniously.
So, it is very important for people to understand the role each organ of government is supposed to play.
There is an allegation that you are aiding the activities of bandits in the state for financial gains. Is this true? To gain what? What is most important is that we are trying our best. I don’t blame people for saying what they say or behaving the way they behave because what is important to them is to have peace and be secured, which is the responsibility of the government.
The people have every right to complain if any government fails in that regard. You see, if you hold a public office you have to be ready to hear all sorts of things. Some are saying what they are saying out of ignorance; maybe when you are able to explain to them they would understand and appreciate you.
In some cases, some will even apologise. However, some are being mischievous, just to tarnish the image of government or a person in government. Some also see you as a threat, even within the same political party or government.
Believe me, all these things don’t bother me. What is important to me is to achieve what we want to achieve. We need to deliver on our promise to provide security for the people. Some things will certainly change our focus, so I don’t think we should go into them.
Would you say you have forgiven those who are tarnishing your image in one way or another? Nobody has ever offended me in this kind of thing, that is why they do it and come back to apologise.
All I want to tell the young ones is that such things are not good and they shouldn’t engage in it. If I do something wrong, there is nothing wrong in telling the world. Recently, my house in Danmusa was burnt. Forty people were arrested, but nothing was done; they were all released. I know that those who did it were misled. I am sure they will regret their action.
What message do you have for the people of Katsina, as far as the issue of insecurity is concerned? The people of Katsina should understand that the state government is doing its best to end the problem.
They should also know that the state has its limitations.
They should continue to pray and have a good understanding of the situation. From the plans we have seen, God’s willing, we will bring this thing to an end.