By Habibu Harisu
Sokoto State Government has commenced mobilisation of herdsmen, farmers and other community members to form joint groups of volunteers to provide security to their communities.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the groups are meant to complement the efforts of security agencies in tackling banditry and other crimes.
According to Alhaji Lawalli Fakku, Chairman of Kebbe Local Government Area, Gov. Aminu Tambuwal had directed for meetings with all stakeholders to agree on modalities for the operation of the local security guards.
The Chairman made the disclosure on Saturday in Kebbe at an interactive meeting with representatives of security agencies, traditional and religious leaders, farmers, heardsmen and local government authorities on the issue.
Fakku said the community watch groups would be set up in all local government areas currently facing security challenges such as farmers/herdsmen conflicts, cattle rustling, kidnapping and robbery.
He said that areas bordering Zamfara and Kebbi that witnessed annual influx of herders and other settlers would also have the voluntary security group.
The National Chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Alhaji Muhammadu Kiruwa, who chaired the meeting, said similar efforts were undertaken by Ebonyi, Ekiti and Ondo states and it yielded positive impact.
Kiruwa said the measure was planned to be replicated accross the nation, noting that laws prohibiting child grazing and night grazing would soon be enforced.
He described herdsmen in Nigeria as the most negligent group of wealthy persons in the world for surrendering their assets worth millions in the hands of minors.
Kiruwa urged herdsmen to nominate people among themselves who would serve in the security group in each area, saying it was in the interest of all to have peaceful and secure communities.
The MACBAN national chairman stated that the initiative would contribute to providing insider knowledge and in fishing out bandits within community settings.
He stressed that the combined volunteers’ platforms would greatly enhance government agencies efforts in tackling all forms of crimes.
“This meeting aims at providing opportunity to facilitate understanding of differences, foster unity and cordial relationship among diverse ethnic groups in the area and persuade them to participate in the joint vigilante groups,” he said.
Kiruwa enjoined the people to be law abiding, stop taking laws into their hands and voluntarilly surrender all guns in their possession to relevant authorities.
Speaking also, Lt.Col. Ibrahim Sherif, the Commanding Officer, 26 Battalion of Nigerian Army Sokoto, said military and other security agencies attended the stakeholders meeting in line with the directive of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Burutai.
Sherif said he represented the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 8 Division of Nigeria Army Sokoto, Maj. Gen. Hakeem Otiki.
He noted that the GOC had since deployed troops to Kebbe and environs to handle security challenges in the area.
The District Head of Balle, Alhaji Abubakar Kassim described the meeting as timely and assured of traditional rulers’ cooperation toward achieving success.
Kassim and other traditional rulers at the meeting urged for a law to ban night and child grazing, as well as providing accomodation to strangers.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that three representatives of herdsmen, farmers and community leaders were allowed to speak on participatory actions and challenges on the proposal. (NAN)