In continuation with the battle against banditry and cattle rusting in parts of their states, the governors of Kastina, Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara and Niger States met again in Kaduna over the weekend to endorse another round of cooperation.
Addressing the press at Government House, Kaduna, after the meeting, the governor of Kastina State, Alhaji Aminu Masari, who chaired the meeting, said the meeting was convened to review progress made so far and to renew the initiative, which would end on October 26, 2015.The meeting which started around 2pm on Saturday lasted till 7pm, and was rescheduled for yesterday.
He said: “As you know, we are have a joint agreement to fight cattle rustling and some acts of criminality in our states. So far, the result has been very encouraging and we want to renew the cooperation because this phase will end on the October 26, 2015.
“That has been the main reason for the meeting. We have adjourned for today (Saturday) and will continue tomorrow (Sunday).”
Asked about what the states were doing to ensure that fleeing Boko Haram members did not escape to the states in question, Masari said: “We are very aware of that possibility and we have put our security agencies on alert.”
Asked what went wrong when rustlers last month in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State killed scores of villagers and left with their cattle, he said: “The Kamaku/Kuyanbana Forests reserves are very large bodies of forests. They extend up to Senegal.
“It is not easy to patrol every space there. And you know these dangerous thieves have foreign elements. Many of them that have been caught are not Nigerians. So, it was an unfortunate incident and we going to help ensure that the operation covers as many areas as possible this time.”
On how much the operation would cost these states, he said “you will only know what it cost at the end of the operation, when we get rid of the criminals.”
It would be recalled that in July this year, governors of Niger, Kaduna, Sokoto Kebbi, Kastina and Zamafara agreed to fund a joint operation of the Nigeria military, Directorate of State Security, DSS, the Police and Nigerian Civil Defence Corpse to comb for criminals the Kamuku/Kuyanbana forests areas which borders all the states. The enclave was seen as a den of bandits and rustlers.
In August, it was reported the operation led to the recovery of at least 1000 stolen cows and hundreds of other livestock from the Birnin Gwari area of Kamuku forest alone.