Like every other state in the northern part of the country, Niger state which is considered as the largest state in Nigeria, is faced with security challenges ranging from kidnap, banditry, cattle rustling and communal clash between farmers and cattle rearers.
But one unique security challenge confronting the state is banditry.
This is because it shares boundary with flash-point states like Kaduna, Kebbi and Zamfara, where there are camps of bandits.
Niger State in the North Central geopolitical zone of Nigeria has been bedeviled by criminal elements who unleash mayhem on defenseless residents with reckless abandon.
These bandits as gathered, come into Niger State to carry out their nefarious activities unhindered and thereafter, return to their bases. At times they kidnap villagers with the connivance residents, and thereafter, demand ransom for their release. Sometimes they rape women and cart away cattle and other valuables. Unfortunately, help is usually far for the victims, owing to poor and inaccessible roads , especially when it rains.
Also , Crime Guard’s investigation revealed that some of the affected communities do not have communication network, a disadvantage that aids successful operations whenever bandits strike. By the time news of the attack will reach security agencies , the bandits would have left with their loots.
Communities seriously affected include : Munya, Shiroro, Rafi, Mariga , Rijau and Kontagora Local Government Areas .
Determined to checkmate activities of these bandits, Commissioner of Police, Niger State Police Command, CP Adamu Usman , upon assuming duty as the command boss in July 2019, put machinery in place. Today that singular act seems to be yielding results, owing to the number of arrests of suspects terrorizing the state.
Statistics at Crime Guard’s disposal revealed that between January and October 2020, 240 suspects were arrested by the Niger State Police Command, with the recovery of 72 arms and 1,526 ammunition.
The recovered arms included five AK 47 riffles, two AK 49 riffles, 25 Magazines, two Air riffles, , nine locally made pistols, six locally fabricated short guns, 20 Single Barrel Dane guns and three Pump Action. Forty-nine other weapons which included 15 cutlasses , 11 knives and 23 sticks were also recovered.
In addition, 1,142 cattle, 658 sheep and two donkeys , including 18 vehicles were recovered in the period under review.
Kidnapping ranks highest
A breakdown of the 240 arrested suspects showed that kidnap suspects were the highest number of arrest made in the state, with 87 suspects. There were reportedly 26 reported cases of kidnap, with 40 of the victims released by the command within 10 months.
Minors as rape victims
Culpable homicide ranked second ,with 74 suspects arrested, out of 13 cases reported. Rape and sexual assault ranked third with 23 suspects arrested , while 21 armed robbery suspects were arrested.
Surprisingly, most victims of rape and sexual assault were girls between ages six and 12. Some of these minors were lured with money as low as N100 by pedophiles old enough to be their grandfathers, in some cases.
An instance was the arrest of a Septuagenarian , identified simply as Mohammed who was arrested for allegedly defiling a 10 year-old girl in Chanchaga area f Minna, Niger State capital , four months ago. Another arrest of 60-year-old Haruna Lawal, a Scavenger, Haruna Mohammed , was made three months ago in Wushishi local Government Area of the state. In this case, the suspect was alleged to have raped a nine-year-old girl, after luring her with N100.