Over 50,000 residents from 17 communities in Sabon Birni Local Government Area have relocated to Niger Republic because of incessant attacks by bandits.
The member representing Sabon Birni North constituency in the Sokoto State House of Assembly, Aminu Almustapha Boza, disclosed this.
Boza said the villagers have taken refuge at Tudun Sunnah village, Gidan Runji Local Government in Maradi State of Niger Republic.
However, the lawmaker claimed he had made several attempts to meet with Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal about their plight, but to no avail.
“I have been trying to see the governor, but he has refused me audience since he knows my reasons for doing so.
“Every day, our people are being killed. We have so far counted over 50,000 refugees in the Niger Republic. In the presence of the governor of Maradi and the chairman of Gidan Runji, we counted them over two days.
“I regret joining politics. I know how much support we gave the governor during his re-election, since he promised us security, development and other things, yet look at it now, my people are suffering, and he cannot come or send a delegate or even relief materials.
“The last time he (Tambuwal) visited our area was after bandits massacred several people in Tarah last year when he advised my constituents against taking arms to defend themselves,” he alleged.
Governor Tambuwal, however, has denied shunning the lawmaker, saying he has been in contact with him about security issues in his constituency.
Tambuwal recalled that he had facilitated a meeting between the police commissioner, the director of DSS in the state, and the lawmaker, during which he was directed to contact any one of them in case of distress.
The member was one of the two invited for the last security meeting, but only one attended from the Isa Constituency.
In addition, Tambuwal explained that providing security is the prerogative of the president, but the state government would not shirk from its responsibility to ensure the wellbeing and welfare of its people.
Tambuwal also said he called the lawmaker before he left the state for an official trip last Thursday.
Senator Ibrahim also admitted talking to the governor on the phone last Thursday, during which he asked him to call Minister of Police Affairs, Chairman Senate Committee on Defence Aliyu Wamakko and Senator Aliyu Wamakko. Gobir and the Chief of Army Staff over the security According to him, he was not appointed Chief Security Officer of the state due to the situation in his area.
That was the only time he called me, and those were the instructions he gave me, he claimed.
As a result of staying in an open area without toilets, food, or medicine, Boza described the situation as pathetic.
“They live in the rain and sun without any help from local and state governments. I bought some bags of garrin rogo, rice, mosquito nets and some drugs for them. I will buy more today. “I’m afraid what will happen if there is an outbreak in the camp,” he said.
Over 300 people have lost their lives to banditry in the Sabon Birni Local Government Area since 2020.
Asked why he blamed Governor Tambuwal when he has no control over security operatives, he said that the governor is the state’s Chief Security Officer.
“We have seen what Governor Zulum is doing to bring peace to Borno State. He will be seen today at the villa, tomorrow with the Chief of Army Staff or Chief of Air Staff or even the refugee camp, and his efforts are paying off because Boko Haram members are surrendering voluntarily to the military.
“Another example is what his friend and neighbor, the governor of Zamfara State, is doing to restore peace in the state.
“We want Governor Tambuwal to go to places where he knows we can get assistance, especially now that the Chief of Army Staff is from Sokoto. The federal government cannot come in without the state’s cooperation,” he said. “He should visit him and ask for his support.”
In response to whether he would resign because of the situation, he said, “I had wanted to resign since but I was persuaded to stay by some prominent people in Sokoto, including Islamic scholars.”
He denied that security issues were being politicized in Sabon Birni.
The Chairman of Sabon Birni, Alhaji Umaru Danyaro Unguwan Lalle, declined to grant an interview because they were still compiling data on the affected communities.
I don’t want to give inaccurate figures like other people used to do. “I must be careful what I reveal to the press.” he said.
Garba Moyi, the state’s Commissioner for Career and Security Matters, denied that the state government was doing nothing to alleviate the plight of Sabon Birni residents.
Security agencies in the state have continued to be supported by the government financially and logistically.
Moyi said that unless there were adequate security operatives in the area and they were allowed to operate freely, the problem would continue.
“We learned that the General Officer Commanding 8 Division has instructed his men not to respond to distress calls or operate at night. According to him, this directive must be withdrawn by the GOC.
Moyi urged the people of Sabon Birni to always report informants in their midst and stop politicizing security issues.
To avoid ambushes, he also advised them to stop going after bandits after attacks on their community.
Major Adamu Yahaya Ngulde, spokesman for the 8 Division of the Nigerian Army, dismissed the allegations in an interview earlier this year, saying the army always responds to distress calls as directed by the General Officer Commanding the division.
It had been ordered by the GOC that the army respond to any distress call and ensure the timely rescue of kidnapped victims but in doing so, they should be cautious of ambush.
“Two weeks ago, the Garrison Commander led a clearance operation along that axis,” he said.
He denied that troops were withdrawn from the area. “The current Chief of Army Staff has provided more troops to deal with banditry in the region,” he said.
Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has appointed the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, chairman of the Sokoto Main Security Committee.
An stakeholders meeting on security took place at the International Conference Hall in Kasarawa on Wednesday.
Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Manir Dan’iya, Attahiru Bafarawa, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, and former governors of the state attended the meeting.
Governor Tambuwal said the meeting was called to discuss lingering security issues in the state and find solutions.