The ancient city of Kano is crawling back to life. The Southerners and other nationals, who fled the city in the wake of series of attacks by the Boko Haram sect in the wake of several senseless attacks that claimed numerous lives have returned to the state to commence their businesses. This is even as residents in Kano are excited over the gradual return of peace to the state capital, particularly as commercial activities continue to pick up.
Most panic-stricken Southerners, especially those from the Igbo-speaking South-East, who fled Kano, following the exodus that characterised the attacks, are back in their shops for their normal businesses. Business is now in top gear as most shops shut by their owners in the Sabon-Gari area of the city, inhabited predominantly by non-Muslims and non-natives with an estimated two million Igbos, have now reopened.
This development has been attributed to improved security lately. Chukwuemeka Ibeh and Ben Okoro, both spare part dealers, were among non-natives, who fled the city for safety. They said they were back for good.
They left the town in response to pressure from their relatives at home, who feared for their safety. “You don’t leave your place of business for home without making adequate arrangement for such movement; it has been a hell of the sort during the period I was home, doing nothing tangible,” Ibeh said, even as he admitted that most of the media reports on the conflict did not reflect the true situation on ground.
“The reports had generated fear in the minds of people outside Kano and the North generally,” he added. In like manner, Okoro says, “we are happy that there is peace in the state now and we hope that the security agencies will sustain it. The people’s confidence is gradually being restored. Don’t forget also that Kano is most of us first home.”
Security agents in Kano have intensified efforts of late aimed at reassuring residents of their resolve to nip any form of threat from those who specialise in trouble making in the bud. This is what security sources described as “adjustment and readjustment” of strategy by security personnel, which have unhindered access to strategic areas, particularly in the state capital that has, for long, become the den of extremists and other intruders. Incidentally, the state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bishop Ransom Bello, has openly acknowledged the relative peace in the state.
This was followed by the improved turnout of Christian worshipers in Churches during Sunday services. It was a clear departure of the situation some months back when Christian worshipers boycotted their traditional Sunday Mass for fear of possible attack. The Bishop commended the Police and members of the Joint Task Force for their effort.
As part of measures to keep Kano in constant check, the Police have also beefed up security in alliance with military authorities as more of their men have been deployed to the city from their formations.
The combatants have been arriving Bukavu barracks, Headquarters of 3 Bridge of Nigerian Army Kano as part of the renewed efforts to deal with the insurgency and in keeping with the promise of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Azubuike Ihejirika, to move more men to the city as part of the efforts to strengthen the campaign against Boko Haram activities.
The Kano State Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Idris, says his command has doubled its efforts as security keeps improving by the day. This, according to him, could be attributed to the support and co-operation his men are receiving from members of the public, the traditional rulers and the state government. “But, of course, we cannot rule out the gallantry, professionalism and commitment of officers and men of the Nigerian Police Force.
The continued synergy between members of the various security agencies as reflected in the joint operation of the Joint Task Force, including quasi state security outfits such as Hisbah and Neigbourhood Watch Vigilante Group, is paying off.
This joint effort had led to drastic reduction of crime in the state; evidence is the return of economic and social activities. Kano State has now resumed its number one position as the economic nerve centre of northern Nigeria and West African sub-region,” Idris said. The commissioner did not stop there, but said, “we have continue to adopt our strategies of combating crimes, which includes visibility policing and raids on criminal hideouts.
It has been very successful leading to the arrest of hundreds of criminals of different shades. Apart from the raids that are carried out as a routine operation, we have improved vehicular patrol, especially around the city as well as stop and search; they all have proved to be successful in this campaign. We also have our plain clothes personnel deployed in flash points for intelligence gathering and they have lived up to expectation in the circumstance.
In the last six months in the state, our bomb experts have been nosing around for abandoned explosives and we have been able to mop up no fewer than 964 assorted high caliber explosives, which were either detonated or defused.
The exercise is ongoing and we have taken time to explain to the public that whenever they hear the sound of explosives it should not be interpreted that the state is under attack because, most times we are the one that carried out the detonation in the event that we could not guarantee the safety of the officers involved if they have to defused the bombs because they are remote controlled,” he said.
As part of the measures to improve security in Kano, the state government has donated 55 new vans to security agencies in the state. Nigeria Police got 44 of the double cabin vans while the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air Force, State Security Service (SSS), Civil Defence and Road Safety Corps got one each. Governor Kwankwaso stated that the donation is only a tip of the iceberg, assuring that his administration would continue to equip the security agencies in Kano to make sure that lives and property of the citizens are protected.
The governor promised to continue to work with the security outfits to facilitate security and development of the state. The Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police in charge of zone 1, Abubakar Muhammad, who spoke on behalf of the benefitting organisations was full of praise for the governor, promising that the vehicles would be used for the purpose they were provided.
During a short presentation ceremony at the government house in Kano, the state governor, Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso said. “Although it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to cater for the logistics needs of the security agencies, my government decided to assist so that they can cope with the challenge of protecting our people. Handling security is mainly the responsibility of the Federal government but the state sees it as a responsibility to support the Federal government,” Kwankwaso said.