Residents of Runka town and other communities in Safana Local Government Area of Katsina State have expressed fear for their safety following the “sudden withdrawal” of soldiers from the area on Monday.
Soldiers serving in a joint security task force were stationed at Runka, the second largest town in Safana council area, until the withdrawal.
Residents said bandits had blacklisted Runka for enjoying security protection, which had saved the community from their attack, PremiumTimes reports.
Safana is one of the 13 frontline local government areas in Katsina State for banditry attacks. Last year, the state government cut telecommunications network in the area among other measures to check the activities of armed criminal groups.
The lawmaker representing the area in the state House of Assembly, Abduljalalu Haruna, on Monday called for the reversal of the decision to withdraw the soldiers from the area.
Haruna said the area would become a soft target for bandits without the protection of security agents.
“As I speak with you now, I am making contact to address the fear and ensure that security agents return to the area tonight. I spoke with all the relevant security agents in charge of the area, they assured that they will be back in their post,” Haruna was quoted as saying.
Sani Safana, a youth leader, said a suspected bandit was spotted Monday evening at a football field in Runka, hours after the soldiers left.
Safana said communities in the area in danger of attack include Runka, Gora, ‘Yalilo, maikada and communities on the western fringe of Safana town, the local council headquarters.
However, when contacted, Muhammad Katsina, the Security Adviser to Governor Aminu Masari, said he was not aware of the withdrawal of soldiers from the area.
“I have to confirm from the security agencies because that may be a security strategy,” he said.
In 2021, a notorious bandit, Usman Idris, aka ‘Ruga Kachallah’, had set condition for peace in the area.
The outlaw demanded compensation for his burnt house and grains and the arrest of his wives as the condition for peace in the state.
Kachallah is believed to be leading criminal activities in Safana Local Government Area. He blamed residents of Runka for supporting security agents to arrest his wives and burn down his house in the community.
Locals and security sources in the state said that a large army of bandits under Kachallah routinely kidnap people for ransom and rustle cattle in the area until the deployment of security personnel whose withdrawal on Monday has driven residents into anxiety.
Katsina, despite being the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari has witnessed sporadic attacks by bandits and kidnappers that have claimed the lives of many.
Over 1000 people have been reportedly killed by the gunmen in Jibia, Kankara, Dutsinma, Musawa, Danmusa and Safana local government areas of the state in the last five months.
On December 11, 2020, some bandits kidnapped 344 students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, while Buhari was on a visit to the state. They were released about a week later.
Also on December 19, 84 Islamiyya students of Hizburrahim Islamiyya in Mahuta village, in the Dandume Local Government Area of the state were abducted but rescued shortly after.