Niger State Governor, Sani Bello, has said communities harbouring criminals will be tagged as bandits.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mary Noel-Berje, said Bello stated this when he visited 12 injured soldiers receiving treatment at the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) Specialist Hospital, Minna, the state capital.
The governor said it appears the bandits have alliances with terrorists, considering their increasing number and the way they plan and carry out attacks.
He expressed concern over some rural communities who, owing to fear of attacks, harbour bandits.
“Very soon we will tag those communities as same elements as bandits. If you are harbouring any bandits and you know, you are one, even if you don’t carry a gun because you are risking the lives of our security agents,” Bello said
He said the situation calls for a review, adding that aside from the efforts being made, a support system will be set up for those deprived of their livelihood through banditry or cattle rustling.
“We have lost quite a few of them(soldiers) since it started and we don’t intend to lose more. What we are calling for is a safe environment and for everyone to support the ongoing operation by the security agents,” Bello said.
According to the governor, three persons were killed on Tuesday when gunmen attacked the palace of Emir of Kagara, Ahmed Attahiru and the divisional police headquarters in Rafi Local Government Area.
The governor also confirmed the death of two soldiers in a recent attack in Kagara area of the state.
He,however, enjoined residents of the state to be security-conscious and to report any suspicious activities around them.
The governor said the war against banditry involves everyone and not only the security agencies.