Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State has disclosed that 165 civilians, 25 security personnel, and 30 local vigilantes have been killed by terrorists in 17 days.
Bello made this known in a chat with State House correspondents on Tuesday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He stated that the terrorists have killed and kidnapped residents in recent weeks and the only way to curb their nefarious activities is through the robust deployment of modern technology.
The governor said the bandits move from one state to another, adding that clearance operations against the bandits should be handled simultaneously in order to defeat banditry.
Bello, however, expressed hope and confidence that peace will return to Niger following the zeal shown by security agencies deployed to the North Central state.
He said: “I’m very optimistic with the kind of zeal I have seen from our security agencies and all services. I’m very optimistic that the situation will be addressed. And hopefully, we should get a very peaceful state within the shortest possible time.
“We share borders with Kaduna, Zamfara, and Kebbi states, and these bandits have the habit of hibernating between forests, moving from Zamfara to Kebbi, and Kebbi to Niger.
“They take advantage of the cattle routes which they already know. They move on motorcycles, and most of the areas and communities they attack have no access roads. So, you cannot drive there. So, our response time is slow.
“But going forward, there will be new strategies which I earlier mentioned. It will help us. But I can’t disclose some of those strategies. But basically, the states of Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi would have to work together to address the situation.
“What I realise is that they have been taking us on a merry-go-round. When we deal with them in Niger, they move to Kaduna. When Kaduna deals with them, they move to Katsina. They have been hibernating in the forest. Some of these operations need to be handled simultaneously so that we get the result.
“We are not happy and we are sad with the developments in these states. We are doing whatever we can, using kinetic and non-kinetic efforts to see that we address the present situation.”