…Peace Committee Indicts 5 Zamfara Emirs***
…As Army neutralizes 39 bandits in Zamfara***
Banditry in Nigeria may have become an unimaginably big time business, extremely difficult to curb, as a Committee set up by Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle to find solutions to this has disclosed that over N3 billion was collected by bandits as ransom from relations of abducted victims in Zamfara State alone.
The Chairman of the committee, Mohammed Abubakar, a former Inspector General of Police (IGP), made the disclosure while presenting the committee’s report to the governor on Friday in Gusau, noting that the report covered the period from June 2011 to May 29, 2019.
He said the money was collected from 3,672 victims whose relatives paid to secure their freedom.
Abubakar said that a total of 4,983 women were widowed, 25,050 children orphaned and 190,340 persons displaced by banditry over the period in the state.
He also said that innocent Fulani herdsmen lost 2,015 cattle, 141 sheep and goats, 2,600 donkeys and camels to rustlers while 147,800 vehicles, motorcycles and others were burnt at different times and locations within the period.
The former IGP therefore advised that if enduring peace would be achieved, and sustained, the state government should take over all farmlands situated on grazing routes and adopt modern livestock farming to encourage herders to remain in one place.
Abubakar said that the committee had recommended unconditional disarmament and setting up of a judicial commission of inquiry backed by law to address all forms of banditry in the future.
He also advised government to partner neighboring state governments to rehabilitate all inter-state roads, to ease movement of security personnel and the general public.
In addition, he said the state government must give priority to education and ensure that all children including those of nomads attend school.
But even more strongly, the committee on finding solutions to banditry in Zamfara, also revealed on Friday that it uncovered concrete evidence, that five Emirs in the state were complicit in the spate of banditry in which more than 6,319 men and women were killed.
The former Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar also noted that 33 district and several village heads equally worked with the bandits.
Abubakar, who made the disclosure while submitting the committee’s report to Gov. Bello Matawalle in Gusau on Friday, however did not publicly named the traditional rulers.
He added that 10 soldiers, some policemen and civil servants were discovered to have had their hands smeared in the banditry which lasted for about a decade in the state.
The former IGP said some security personnel and one emir distinguished themselves creditably in the protection of the people.
He said that the committee had recommended that the emir be conferred with national honour while the officers should be promoted to their next ranks.
Abubakar said the 300-page report would be relevant to other state governments and the federal government in addressing security issues in the country.
Receiving the report, Gov. Matawalle promised to implement the recommendations, assuring that he would not be diverted by any sentiment.
“I would like to make it clear that personal relationship, sectional, geographical, religious and ethnic interests will have no role to play in the decision l will take with regard to recommendations of the committee, especially those that relate to the recommended sanctions and disciplinary measures,” he assured.
The committee was inaugurated by Gov. Matawalle in July and its investigation covered between June 2011 and May 2019.
In the meanwhile, the Army has neutralized no fewer than 39 armed bandits, in two different operations in Zamfara this week.
Capt. Oni Orisan, Operation Hadarin Daji spokesman, who disclosed this on Saturday, said the operations were carried out in Bakura and Anka axis of the state.
According to him, 19 of the bandits were killed in an encounter with the army in the bushes of Anka while the 20 were killed in Bakura.
Orisan reiterated that the soldiers would not attack any repentant bandit.
He, however, said that those unrepentant ones who still carry guns and move around in large numbers would be treated as hostile.
He advised the unrepentant bandits to surrender their arms to constituted authorities and embrace the peace initiative of the state government.
It is instructive that since the beginning of the peace and reconciliation initiative about five months ago, peace has returned to many communities.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai visited the state recently, promised that the army would continue to work for the sustenance of peace in the state.