Local residents have narrated how armed bandits on Tuesday invaded a Shari’a Court in Baure-Zaka in Safana Local Government Area of Katsina State and kidnapped the judge.
Although courts in the state are closed due to the nationwide strike by judiciary workers, the judge, Huseini Sama’ila, was said to have decided to clear the backlog of cases before his court.
He was at it on Tuesday when the gunmen reportedly arrived on motorcycles, dragged the judge out of the courtroom and and took him away on their motorcycles, the court’s deputy registrar, Ibrahim Shillo, told PREMIUM TIMES.
The gunmen were yet to contact the relatives of the judge for ransom, the official added.
According to residents, gunmen had earlier, in February, attacked the same court and took away a suspect from the dock, who was believed to be their kinsman.
Following that incident, the authorities moved the court from Baure-Zaka to Safana town, which is considered to be more secure.
However, Mr Shillo said the bandits returned at around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, apparently having got wind that the judge had returned to hold an extraordinary sitting of the court in Baure-Zaka.
The Chief Registrar of Katsina State High Court, Kabir Shu’aibu, said he could not comment on an incident that happened while courts in the state had been officially shut due to the judiciary workers’ strike.
“As far as I am concerned, courts in Katsina are not in session. That’s all that I can say,” Mr Shu’aibu said.
Operations of court in troubled Katsina communities
Resident said courts rarely open in troubled Katsina communities because judges are reluctant to handle cases involving Fulani herders out of fear of abduction.
The locals also said the thin presence of government institutions, including security formations, has been exploited by armed bandits to operate unabated.
The Shariah court in Baure-Zaka presides over cases from communities such as Babban Duhu, Tsaskiya, Umadau, Zakka, lllela, Muniya , kirtawa, Marina, Kukar samu, Bare Bari and Wagini.
Residents of Batsari and Kurfi local government areas also use the court.
The court in Safana town also handles cases from ‘Runka ‘A’, Runka ‘B’, ‘Yar lillo’, ‘Garin Magaji’ ,’Maikada Kunamawa’, ‘Guzurawa, Kunamawa’, ‘Dan nagaiyya, and ‘Kun kunna’ amongst others.
Residents said the long closure of courts has contributed to the escalation of anarchy in the area.
It is difficult to provide security – Police
The police spokesperson in Katsina, Gambo Isah, said the community where the judge was abducted on Tuesday was one of those that security agents had officially marked as insecure.
“The judge should have contacted the security personnel before revisiting the area that had been announced unsafe for their operation,” the police spokesperson said.
Mr Isah said the court was relocated because security agents cannot provide cover for far-flung settlements in the state.
“Many of the vulnerable communities are three hours journey from their council headquarters and the settlements contain few households with no social amenities.”
He said in spite of warnings to avoid such communities, some people still go there to farm because of the fertile land.