SECURITY forces in Katsina State have been placed on high alert amid fears that the youths there will join the nationwide protests and raid local warehouses believed to be holding stocks of Covid-19 palliatives.
Last Tuesday, Nigerian Army troops opened fire on unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, killing several of them. This cold blooded murder spared a national outrage and across the country and people have since taken to the streets, setting fire to public buildings and looting warehouses, shops and the homes of the wealthy.
Over the weekend, the emphasis appeared to focus on raiding warehouses as it was discovered that Covid-19 palliatives distributed to states was being hoarded. Across at least 10 states, members of the public have helped themselves to essential food items denied them and there are now fears that this may spread to Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state.
As a result, earlier today, the Nigerian Army, police and other paramilitary agencies in Katsina State conducted a joint show of force round the various streets of Katsina metropolis. Police spokesman Superintendent Gambo Isah, said that the exercise was aimed at building the necessary confidence amongst members of the public about the preparedness of the security agencies to guide and protect their lives and properties in the state.
He said: “The show of force in collaboration with all other security agencies is to ensure that we give confidence to the members of the public and in addition, give the hoodlums a warning signal that the security agencies are ever ready to deal with any situation or untoward situations. So I can assure you that in Katsina not only warehouses are safe but all business facilities, shopping malls, recreational facilities, worship centres and so on.
“We will ensure that maximum and adequate security measures are provided through constant and regular patrols.” He further disclosed that divisional police officers and area commanders have been directed by the state command to withdraw all policemen attached to VIPs, with a view to deploying the affected personnel into routing patrols and vehicular patrols.
Some residents of Katsina metropolis however wondered if the exercise would not spark off demonstrations and wanton looting of warehouses by hoodlums. Up until now, Katsina State has remained largely peaceful and devoid of violent action but this could change soon as the protests spread nationwide.