From Augustine Okezie, Katsina

Katsina State Governor Bello Masari on Sunday urged the military and joint security operatives in the state to capture or neutralise the kingpins of banditry to free the state from criminalities.

Masari spoke with The Nation in an exclusive interview at the Government House in Katsina.

He commended the security agencies for the arrests made so far as well as successes recorded in the last three months.

The governor called for the capture of kingpins, such as “Dan Gote” and “Dan Keremi’’ to guarantee the permanent return of peace.

“Well, let’s say the army and the entire security operatives that are presently confronting the bandits in parts of Katsina have made much progress; certainly we are better today than three months ago. We have seen some progress with the presence of more policemen and more military personnel which include the Nigerian Air force in the activities, but the issue of degrading is objective. For me, unless and until the leaders of the bandits are arrested or neutralised, you cannot say they are degraded.

‘’And again challenges and difficulties are confronting the ongoing joint operations. I know it is very difficult to take equipment to the forest because of the swampy terrain and other challenges. Also, movements in the forests are difficult for the operatives, while the bandits hide in the farm to commit atrocities.

‘’The movements of bandits and their invasion of villages and communities have significantly reduced. What we have now is a moderate situation and even at that, we have not yet reached the level where I will say the bandits are degraded and am sure the military authorities and other security agencies understands that and are following their operations.

“The leaders of the bandits are still alive and still active. So, it all depends and until they are captured or neutralised they are yet to be degraded.’’

The Nation