The Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, on Saturday said he will implement a report submitted to him in 2019 on how to tackle banditry in the state.
The governor had set up a committee on the issue. It’s report said some traditional rulers were colluding with bandits, then recommended that the governor dethroned them.
The report of the committee, headed by a former Inspector-General of Police, Muhammad Abubakar, covered June 2011 to May 29, 2019.
The report disclosed that over N3 billion was collected by bandits as ransom from relations of 3,672 persons abducted in the state within the period.
Also, it said 4,983 women were widowed, 25,050 children orphaned and 190,340 persons displaced by banditry over the period.
It also said Fulani herdsmen lost 2,015 cattle, 141 sheep and goats, and 2,600 donkeys and camels to rustlers while 147,800 vehicles, including motorcycles and others, were burnt at different times and locations within the period.
The former IGP said to achieve sustained peace, 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.
Mr Abubakar said the committee recommended unconditional disarmament and setting up of a judicial commission of inquiry to address all forms of banditry in the state.
He said the committee also advised government to partner neighbouring state governments to rehabilitate all interstate 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.
Receiving the report, Mr Matawalle had promised to implement the recommendations, assuring that he would not be diverted by any sentiment.
Two years after, however, amid escalating insecurity, Mr Matawalle in a broadcast on June 12, Democracy Day, said killings by bandits are getting worse every day.
He said he will implement the committee’s report to the latter and urged residents to rise in self-defence whenever their villages are attacked.
The governor vowed that in implementing the report, “there will be no sacred cow”, adding that whoever is complicit, no matter how highly placed, would be dealt with according to the law.
The governor said he has demonstrated this commitment with the suspension of the emirs of Maru, Dansadau and Zurmi.
However, residents said some of the traditional rulers side with the gunmen out of fear for their own lives because security agents seldom respond to distress calls or act on intelligence reports from traditional rulers.
Below is the full text of the governor’s address:
1. My dear people of Zamfara state, I address you this evening over the recent escalation in the wave of banditry in some parts of our dear State. As you are aware, the most recent one is the attack on Kadawa village, Zurmi Local Government Area. The reports we received confirmed that the bandits have killed many innocent people.
2. I feel saddened by this unfortunate and barbaric act of cowardice. With a heavy heart, I convey my condolences on behalf of my family and the entire people of the State over this massacre. Our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families and the whole people of Kadawa of Zurmi Local Government Area, and all families that have lost their loved ones across the State.
3. I pray to Almighty Allah to forgive and shower His mercy to the deceased and grant their families the fortitude to bear the loss.
4. As I express my condolences to every one of you individually and collectively, I want to tell you that we will stay doubly proactive in confronting these men of the underworld. These hard hearted gang of criminals have made us to believe that violence is the only language they understand. More than ever before we are determined to pay them in the same coins.
5. In recent weeks, the act of banditry has reverted to the ugly dimensions it had prior to the coming of my administration. The marauders kill without regard for any rules of sanity. Women, the elderly, and children are not spared. As a result, a large number of people have been displaced in nearly every town in the State.
6. My dear people of Zamfara people, you are witnesses to what we have accomplished from the beginning of our administration, particularly the peace and reconciliation efforts that we initiated and achieved. As a result, we have been able to shift our violent narratives to ones of optimism and peaceful coexistence. Unfortunately, things suddenly took a dramatic turn, and things are getting worse by the day.
It is clear that some invincible hands are plotting evil against our people with the goal of making our State as terrifying as it were in the years gone by. My constant prayer is for Allah to reveal those who are perpetrating these cruel atrocities against our people.
7. I assure you that we will remain steadfast in our efforts to eradicate banditry and all types of criminality from the State. In this battle, no sacred cow. Whosoever is involved in these dastardly acts, no matter how highly placed, would be dealt with according to the law. We have demonstrated this commitment based on the actions we have taken in respect of Emir of Maru, Emir of Dansadau and, following yesterday’s incident, the Emir of Zurmi.
8. My administration has resolved to begin implementing the recommendations of the MD Abubakar-led Committee on Finding Solutions to Banditry in Zamfara State as a next step in addressing this vexing problem. We would not spare anyone indicted by the committee’s report, no matter how high up they are.
9. I stated while receiving the report on 11th October 2019 that in implementing the report, the interest of the people of the State, especially their safety, security and individual as well as collective progress and development, would be the guiding principles of my government.
10. Let me reiterate my call during the special sermon and prayers yesterday that our people should complement the efforts of the security forces by defending their communities in the wake of any attacks. This strategy is part of the decisions taken by the northern states governors to combat the menace of banditry and related crimes in the region.
11. I wish to call on the people everywhere in the State to be vigilant and cooperate with the security operatives for the success of this battle, as the fight against insecurity requires concerted efforts. In one way or the other, everybody has a role to play in addressing our security challenges.
12. While security operatives re-strategize to deal with the crisis desively, I urge our people to continue to pray for their success. May Almighty Allah bring us back to the glorious era of peace and prosperity we once enjoyed.
13. Thank you all. Wassalamu Alaikum.
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