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Banditry: WANEP seeks strengtened community policing in Nigeria’s North West

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Urges stronger inter-agency collaboration

Godsgift Onyedinefu 

The  West Africa Network for  Peacebuilding, Nigeria (WANEP-Nigeria)  has called for the strengthening of community Policing and inter-agency collaboration to tackle the surge in armed banditry across  States in the North West  Region of Nigeria, particularly, Zamfara,  Birnin Gwari  axis  of  Kaduna,  Katsina  and  Sokoto States.

This was contained in a statement by the National Coordinator, WANEP-Nigeria, Mrs. Brigdet Osakwe, made available on Tuesday, condemning the attacks called on the Federal Government to intensify inter-agency collaboration to enhance synergy between security agencies in Nigeria.

According to Osakwe, these agencies include: the Nigerian Police, Army, Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) and neighbouring countries responsible for border management and security surveillance to mitigate threats of armed banditry and othercriminal activities.

She also called on relevant authorities in the affected states to be more vigilant and strengthen  community involvement in security and safety.

The Network urgedState Governments in the affected region to reactivate and strengthen the traditional Community Policing to tackle banditry and other forms of criminality to complement the efforts of security agencies in the northern region.

“This should be extended  to other regions of the country  to bolster peace and security,” she advised.

Osakwe regretted that banditry and all other forms of criminality has resulted in  the death of over 488 people since January till date, in addition, loss of  livelihoods, internal displacements and  open armed confrontations.

Part of the statement read: “The persistent banditry has transcended into rampant kidnapping for ransom, cattle rustling, intimidation and killings.

“It has also been noted with concern that violentactivities of armed bandits continue to force farming communities to abandon their farms, causing significant effect to the livelihoods of people within the States in the North-West Region of Nigeria. The surge in violence further causes fear and mistrust among the local population in the region.”

The Peacebuilding network added that Report from the Zamfara State Government, indicates that within the last five years, 3, 526 people were killed, 8, 219 peopleinjured with 500 villages devastated in the State.

“Currently, over 30,000 people in Zamfara State have been displaced internally with an estimated average of 22,000 widows and 44,000 orphans left behind.

“In addition to the statistical analysis generated from the WANEP National Early Warning System (NEWS) on the figures of fatality arising from attacks by bandits, a cumulative death of 488 people were recorded in Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina  and  Sokoto States from January-April, 2019.”

Worried over the consequences armed attacks has on public safety, food security  and  social  cohesion  in  the  affected  States,  she stated that WANEP-Nigeria’s call  for increased  interventions  to  respond  and  mitigate the increasing  violence being perpetuated by armed  bandits.

The network however, commended the enforcement  of multi-agency security  operations and the series of consultative meetings with traditional and community leaders, to curb banditry and other forms  of criminality in the region.

Osakwe while expressing condolences to victims and survivors of attacks by bandits, recommend that State  Governments in the affected states enhance interface between community  early warning systems and intelligence gathering  for  effective alerts for prevention and mitigation of attacks by armed groups.

Further, in its recommendations, the Peace Network called on the Federaland State Governments to improve its resettlement plan for IDPs especially women, children and other vulnerable groups including the aged and peoplelivingwithdisability.

“Specialattentionshouldbeputinplacetoensurevictimsofviolence access psychosocial, health and livelihoods support to rebuild their lives.”

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