President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the worsening violence in Zamfara that has led to the death of dozens of people in the past few weeks.
PREMIUM TIMES has reported how armed bandits have attacked different communities in the state in the past few weeks. Hundreds of people have been killed in such attacks since the start of the year. Some of the worst affected local governments in Zamfara are Tsafe, Zurmi, Shinkafi, Maradun, Maru and Birnin-Magaji. Birnin Magaji is the hometown of the defence minister, Mansur Dan-Ali.
According to a Monday statement by his spokesperson, Garba Shehu, Mr Buhari “strongly condemned the killing of innocent Nigerians in Birnin Magaji community in Tsafe Local Government Area and Magami community in Faru District of Maradun Local Government Area of Zamfara State, following attacks by suspected armed bandits.”
“These horrendous acts of violence are crimes against humanity. This violence must stop,” Mr Shehu quoted the president as saying.
Although the president mentioned the killings in only two local governments, Tsafe and Maradun, many others in Zamfara have suffered from recent attacks. On Sunday, the police in Zamfara confirmed that 18 people were killed when bandits attacked Birane village in Zurmi Local Government Area of the state.
While expressing his deepest condolences to the families of those killed in the attacks in Tsafe and Maradun, as well as to the government and people of Zamfara State, the president also wished those injured a speedy recovery.
Mr Shehu also mentioned steps taken by the president to end the killings.
“The President, who has authorized an assessment trip to Zamfara and Sokoto States by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Baba Sadiq on Christmas and Boxing days, reassured residents of States plagued by armed bandits, including Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Niger and Taraba, that their safety is an enduring commitment of his administration and he will continue to ensure that security agencies work round the clock to protect local populations.
“To this end, a major operation by the Nigerian Armed Forces, Police, Department of State Services and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, is being considered to restore peace and stability in the region.
“President Buhari conveyed his strong support to the Nigeria Police Force, which has already deployed Special Forces in each of the local government in Zamfara State and the Defence Headquarters’ deployment of a Special Military Intervention Force comprising more than 1,000 personnel to respond to the security challenges in the North Central and North West.
“These measures, among others, will be intensified to flush out the bandits from wherever they are,” he said.
Critics of the president will, however, point to the fact that Monday’s statement is not significanty different from that released in February by Mr Buhari. Then, the president vowed to “bring the spilling of innocent blood to an end” in Zamfara.
“The perpetrators of all of these senseless attacks on innocent and defenceless Nigerians, in all parts of the country, will be made to face the full wrath of the law,” he said.
Since that February statement, hundreds of people including security personnel have been killed by the bandits in Zamfara who have also sacked thousands of residents from their villages.
Frustrated residents of Tsafe on Monday protested the worsening insecurity in the local government burning billboards and local government property.
In the statement by Mr Shehu, however, the president commended Nigerians for “their support to our security agencies who have continued to demonstrate dedication, commitment and bravery even in very difficult and complex operations.”
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