Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State says Nigeria has become economically attractive to kidnappers on the continent.
The governor, though, admitted palpable improvement in the security of the country since 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari assumed duties as President.
Masari, who is also the Chairman of the North-West Governors’ Forum, made these known on Wednesday night.
The governor stressed that the security situation in the country has improved since the emergence of the All Progressives Congress government at the centre in 2015.
Masari also lambasted the critics of the Buhari administration saying detractors don’t see anything good in the APC regime despite the “progress” made in the area of security.
He said, “Let’s take 2015, you cannot go to the church, you cannot go to the mosque. If I travel from Kaduna to Abuja, it will take five hours, three of those hours are for checkpoints. I will meet nothing less than 30 checkpoints.”
He attributed the rise in banditry in Nigeria to its economic buoyancy which he said made the country attractive to kidnappers in the Sahel region of Africa.
“Is the situation the same today? It is not…Yes, there are kidnappers, there are bandits around but look at the whole world and look at the position of Nigeria in the Sahelian region. Are we not the richest? So, the attraction even for kidnappers to come to Nigeria is there. If you kidnap somebody in Mali, where are you going to get thousands? If I kidnap you in Nigeria, I get millions. So, all of us will have to rise to the occasion,” he said.
Masari continued, “When we started in 2015 in the North-West, it was cattle-rustling. Gradually, it now developed into banditry, rape, kidnappings. When all that they (bandits) can steal from the villagers along the fringes finished, they moved to the rustling of goats, sheep, and even chicken.
“What we should do and what the government should do now is (about) high-profile kidnapping. In my state, they kidnapped four relatives of very senior government officials.
“When they cannot get anything to sustain themselves, they resort to high-profile kidnappings for money in cities and town. That is the danger, that is something we must work hard to stop.”
The Katsina governor further stated that he supports the decentralisation of policing in the country but said the buck stops on the desk of the National Assembly.
Masari restated his disapproval of the approach of a popular Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who has been seen hobnobbing with bandits in the forests of Zamfara and Niger states and has asked for blanket amnesty for bandits, saying they are fighting “an ethnic war”.