Abubakar Sani Bello, Niger state governor, says most of the bandits operating in the north are from Mali and Sudan.
Speaking with journalists on Wednesday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Bello said the bandits are recruited through Facebook, a social networking platform.
Niger has recorded high incidents of banditry and kidnapping.
The governor said he asked the president for help against banditry and the repair of deplorable roads in the state.
“The situation is very bad. Niger is 73,000 square kilometers. It’s the size of the entire south-south and south-east,” he said.
“So, first of all, we have a limited number of security personnel and I think we have to start thinking of increasing the number so that we are able to cover most of the local government within the state.
“Some of our local governments are up to 6,000 to 7,000 square kilometers. For example, the Bobi Grazing Reserve, established by the state government, the CBN and the federal government to stop the movement of cattle and avoid herders/farmers conflict, has become a target.
“We are having an influx of bandits from neighbouring states, especially Zamfara and Kaduna states. It is difficult to patrol those areas because vehicles do not go there and it is a forest, which means we will need the federal might, especially the air force.
“By the way, the air force has been doing well in recent times to support our ground operations. In one particular case, we arrested bandits that are foreigners from as far as Sudan and Mali and they came on motorcycles.
“They are being recruited through social media, through Facebook in some cases. They confessed to this. They governor said the activities of bandits differ from place to place.”
The governor said the bandits are trying to deprive the country of food security by burning farms.
“I can understand if you kidnap, you are looking for money. But, when you burn farms, then, there is something else happening. Or when you kill animals. They go to villages and kill animals. They don’t steal,” he said.
“So, if you stop people from going to farms, it means you are trying to deprive that nation of food security.
“Why will someone want to deprive people of food security? Niger State has the capacity of feeding the entire country. We have the water bodies for dry season farming, we produce a lot of rice, maize.”