Agaju Madugba, Katsina

Katsina Stage governor, Aminu Bello Masari, has signed an amended Act of the Penal Code law prescribing the death penalty for the offences of kidnapping and cattle rustling.

Henceforth, also, any person convicted of the offence of rape will be sentenced to life imprisonment, apart from paying relevant fines and compensation to the victim.

Speaking on Friday at a ceremony at the Government House, Masari said government took the decision to review the laws to serve as deterrent to persons who might have the intention of committing the heinous crimes.

The governor also signed an amendment to the Criminal Justice Act as recommended by the Federal government, pertaining to the administration of justice in the country including speedy trial of cases in the various courts.

According to Masari, “as you are all aware, Katsina State is currently facing certain security challenges. The two laws: the penal code especially sections dealing with kidnapping, cattle rustling, rape and other related offences.

“Cattle rustling and kidnapping are now capital offences which attract the death penalty. The offence of rape carries a penalty of life sentence apart from fines and compensation to the victim.”

Katsina State within the past few months joined Zamfara and Kaduna states in acquiring the inglorious tag of notoriety in kidnapping and cattle rustling as bandits continue to unleash terror on a number of communities in the area, killing residents without restriction and burning down entire villages.

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From Batsari to Faskari and Dan-Musa and Kankara local government areas, the bandits strike and retreat into the Rugu forest, while surviving residents flee, sometimes to nowhere and in most cases the security agencies arrive several hours after the attacks.

The latest massacre of 18 farmers at a Batsari community last Tuesday  might as well be a reflection of the situation in villages and semi-urban centres in the eight local government areas which bandits have since turned to killing fields.

Apparently worried by the development, the Federal government on Thursday despatched senior military and police officers to Katsina for an assessment of the security situation.

The resurgence in the wanton killings by bandits in Katsina State comes several weeks after the launch of a special security task force tagged,  “Operation Puff Adder,” specifically designed to fight banditry in the area.

The membership of the squad is drawn from the Police Mobile Force (PMF), Counter  Terrorism Unit (CTU), IGP Special Tactical Squad (STS), Explosive Ordinance Department (EOD), Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the IGP Intelligence Response Team (IRT).

According to the Katsina State Commissioner of Police, Salisu Buba, personnel from the squad would be camped in three strategic locations which cover all the eight frontline local government areas. As the police boss stated then, “the squad has the mandate to tackle crimes in all parts of the state, in addition to flushing out bandits and other criminals from the frontline local government areas.”

Parts of Batsari, Jibia, Safana, Dan-Musa, Faskari, Sabuwa, Dandume, Kankara and parts of Kafur local government areas of Katsina State share boundaries with the Rugu which reportedly stretches from the neighbouring Niger Republic covering parts of Katsina, Zamfara and Kaduna states.