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Insecurity: Children’s protest over killings in Katsina sparks concern

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Hundreds of children in Katsina State, North West Nigeria, last week, took to the streets, unguided, following several attacks on different villages in the state by bandits for three consecutive days without intervention from security agents.

The children’s actions have been generating reactions from well meaning Nigerians, who saw the development as a slight on the country’s entire security architecture.

They blamed the government for allowing the situation to degenerate to the level where minors took protest as an option.

According to reports, the bandits, last week, launched several attacks on different villages in Katsina, including the Wurma community, which was attacked for three days consecutively, without any intervention from any of the security agencies.

This development angered the children, whose parents were being savagely slaughtered like animals, and they stormed the street, bearing sticks and chanting, to express their grievances over what they called the nonchalant attitude of both the government and the security agents towards their security and welfare.

The protest, which took place in Wurma, had children whose ages range between 10 and 15 majorly.

According to reports, Wurma is a big farming community that was completely deserted after three days of continuous attacks without intervention from the security operatives.

The demonstration was captured in a video posted on Hausaroom Instagram page, with a caption: “Children protest over killings of their parents by bandits for three consecutive days in Katsina.”

According to one of the protesters, who spoke in the video, Jamil Mabai, Wurma had become a ghost village as people had fled to neighbouring towns.

He said: “Wurma village, a big farming community, is completely deserted; security personnel are nowhere to be found. Our parents are being slaughtered like animals.

“We are helpless and that is why we are crying out to the whole world to come to our rescue. The government has abandoned us.”

Nigerians have been reacting to the protest with some saying that the children were only drawing international attention to what is happening in their communities since the government appeared to have abandoned the people to their own fate.

But, there are others who would want to see the development beyond what the children wanted to achieve with the protest.

They are concerned with the psychological effect of the protest on the children, particularly in future when they grow into adults.

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Those pushing this view have expressed concerns that the children would never forget the trauma when they grow up.

Although the vice president, Kashim Shettima, has pledged that the government would improve the country’s security situation, most Nigerians believe he was just making a political statement as such promises had become a cliché in Nigeria.

Shettima assured them that the government would do everything possible to secure the lives and property of the people, not only in Katsina, but also anywhere in Nigeria.

Reacting to the development, a public administrator, Curtis Ikechukwu told newsmen that the government has failed the children.

“How can you convince those children that Nigeria is not a jungle, where only the fittest or the strongest live?

“How can anybody console the children that all will be well? Are you going to bring back their parents who were mowed down in their sleep for being law abiding?

“How can they live to accept the fact that crime does not pay, when in their very eyes, some bandits stormed their communities and killed their loving parents without any resistance from the security agents?

“How can they trust a government that has allowed non-state actors to keep tormenting their communities without any deterrent?

“As far as those children are concerned, there is no government and if care is not taken, many of them will take to crime as a way of life.

“So, the government should, for once, be very serious about the issue of security of lives and property.

“What Nigerians need is for the government to walk their talk. We need to be able to see action. These are children between 10 and 15 years. How can they ever forget the incident when they grow up?

“It is not enough for the vice president to go there and promise that the government would do everything within its powers to protect them from further attacks.”

“I think what the government should do to show capacity and preparedness to deal with the situation and restore confidence in the people is to go after the bandits that have caused the death of those parents, arrest them and punish them accordingly.

“That is the only thing that will make the people believe whatever any government official is telling them. And that will also send a serious signal to other bandits that it is no longer business as usual.

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“But, if it is the usual promise that the government is on top of the situation, I don’t think anybody is willing to listen to such promises any longer. My brother, this is a terrible situation and the government just needs to do something drastic and urgent too,” he submitted.

For Celestine Nnamani, a legal practitioner, security is another area of national disaster in Nigeria.

“Security is practically nonexistent in Nigeria; the government has failed Nigerians as far as the security of lives and property of citizens is concerned.

“Section 14 (2b) makes it very clear in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of governance at all levels.

“But, where is security? Right now, my gate is locked and I am sitting at home because I am scared of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB’s) irredentists, who said we should sit at home every Monday.

“Is that how to run a nation? I have to listen to non-state actors who tell me what to do and the government has no answer.

“Some people believe that there is a need for Nigerians to come together and discuss their nation. If we don’t agree on how to live together, then it is impossible to live together.

“We need to come back somehow and discuss how we can live together as Nigerians. Then patriotism will come back and whatever that is agreed upon, there will be some measures of patriotism and some measures of what the government is doing and what it is supposed to do.

“Governance is not about putting up some shows in the state capital. Non-state actors have taken over swaths of the North and the government has no answer.

“It is the same situation down south; non-state actors have taken over everywhere, ranging from forests to villages, towns and cities and the government does nothing.

“So, the government needs to really come to the people and let us rediscover ourselves; that is the first solution,” he told newsmen.

Also bemoaning the situation, an educationist based in Maiduwa Local Government Area of Katsina State, Mallam Abdullahi Sabiu, lamented that about eight local government areas are in firm control of the bandits.

He noted that the Katsina State governor and the security operatives in the state were doing their best, but condemned the fact that the bandits were having a field day with about eight local government areas completely under their firm control.

He told newsmen: “They strike at any time, anywhere, including the markets, on the roads and in the villages.

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“They strike at any moment and this has made the people live in fear continually. People no longer sleep with two eyes closed. They can’t go to the farm again for fear of either being kidnapped or even killed.”

“Hunger is dealing a dirty blow to the people as their main source livelihood, which is farming, has been taken away from them by the bandits, while the government remains helpless,” he stated.

He further said that the children taking to the street to protest was just a way of raising awareness and getting the attention of the governor and the security operatives to increase their efforts at maintaining peace and order.

“People are being threatened every hour. Nowhere is safe in those eight local governments of Faskari, Basari, Sabuwa, Danmusa, Jibia, Safana, Kankara and Kurfi.

“These local governments are facing hell on a daily basis from the bandits.

“It is for the government to look into the children’s request and act swiftly to minimise the effect or even control the situation totally.

“It is not as if the people have totally lost confidence in the government; it is just to draw the government’s attention to their plight to act more,” he said.

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