News about the Coronavirus has all but taken over news feeds across the country. It is on all the platforms, dissected, monitored and questions by thousands of Nigerians terrified yet distrustful. In all this noise, it is easy to overlook that the pandemic is only an addition to existing problems across the country, problems that are worsening as the Nation’s military and paramilitary forces are assigned to enforce movement restrictions and lock downs. This certainly seems to be the plight of Northern states Kaduna and Kano, who have both recorded significant spikes in armed banditry across the states. These avoidable deaths, especially in Kano have gone largely unacknowledged by the government and has led to citizen activism via social media through the #SaveKatsinaNow hashtag.
— Baraka Shafi’i Umar (@BarakaShafi) May 13, 2020
Katsina, the home state of the President, Muhammadu Buhari has long had to endure the violence and carnage that is perpetuated on its citizens by armed assailants. As early as 2016, reports about sporadic attacks by armed bandits raiding border towns began to surface in the news. This was a region-wide problem, with bandits essentially sacking the local governments in towns in Zamfara, Jigawa, Kaduna and Taraba, displacing nearly 20,000 citizens who fled to Niger Republic to escape the violence. It seems since the president was sworn in for his second term the violence in Katsina has only worsened, with images of houses damaged by arson appearing on social media.
— Jamil Mabai (@jaymb000) May 13, 2020
The situation is made more urgent by the fact that like other Muslim faithful, residents of Katsina state are observing the Holy Ramadan fast, in tandem with movement restriction and curfews, that make defending themselves or contact relevant authorities far more difficult than usual. It is especially worrying that residents of Katsina state have completely circumvented the office of governor Bello Masari, perhaps considering him unable to meet the task ahead and advocating directly to the presidency. Perhaps if they cannot reach the Katsina state government or the presidency in person, they can reach them via social media.
There are lives being lost, it is time the government at levels began to act.