Two days after the minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, accused monarchs in Zamfara State of conniving with bandits to make life unbearable for the people, traditional rulers in the state have fired back, daring him to name the alleged sponsors of the criminals.
The minister had on Tuesday, threatened to deal with the traditional rulers for working hand-in-hand with the bandits.
But in a reaction to Dan Ali’s claims yesterday, the Zamfara State Council of Chiefs, expressed dismay at the statement credited to the minister and charged him to go ahead to publicly name its members allegedly aiding the bandits.
In a statement they issued after an emergency meeting of the council, the chairman and the Emir of Anka, Alhaji Attahiru Ahmad, said that the council wants the minister to make good his threat, by naming the traditional rulers involved in the crime.
Ahmad said: “As a matter of urgency, we ask the minister to name the traditional rulers involved in the reprehensible activities for the government to take measures against them.”
According to him, any failure to do so would make Dan Ali’s statement false and an attempt to tarnish the good image of the monarchs in the state.
He said that over the years, the traditional rulers had cooperated with the government and security agencies by providing them with necessary information on the locations and names of the criminals.
The council accused the military and other security agencies of failing to be on top of the situation.
Emir Ahmad said: “The council notes that airstrikes undertaken by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) do not hit the main camps of the bandits, as the areas shelled are not the actual hideouts of the bandits and the victims are innocent civilians.”
He, therefore, urged the federal government to step up the fight against bandits in the state to end the killing and kidnapping of innocent people.
Reps Invite PMB Over Worsening Insecurity
Disturbed by the resurgence of killings by suspected herdsmen and bandits across the country, the House of Representatives yesterday requested President Muhamnadu Buhari to address the Lower Chamber and the nation within 48 hours on the precarious security situation.
The lawmakers said that the President should explain his administration’s apparent inability to declare the killer-herdsmen to terrorists so as to enable commensurate action be taken against them by the armed forces.
They said that the failure of the president to act on the House’s resolutions within 48 hours would leave them with no option than to conclude that his administration was incapable of curtailing the incessant killing of innocent Nigerians by the herdsmen and the occupation of their land.
The resolutions were consequent upon the adoption of a motion under matters of public importance sponsored by Hon Kingsley Chinda and Hon Mark Gbillah, who expressed disappointment at the reactive responses by security agencies to the recurring attacks.
In his lead debate, Hon Gbillah, who lamented the increasing attacks by killer herdsmen and bandits in communities in Benue, Kaduna, Zamfara and other states from January till date, noted that this had led to the loss of hundreds of innocent lives and the displacement of thousands of Nigerians who had fled their homes for fear of being killed.
Gbillah said: ‘’The House is alarmed at the brazen nature of the attacks by the herdsmen and alleged bandits who attack these communities with impunity, brazenly clad in military camouflage and audibly communicating with each other in Fulani as reported by eyewitnesses from the recent attacks in Kaduna State.
‘’Obviously emboldened by the inability of the Nigerian armed forces to curb their activities, these killers have gradually progressed from attacking remote villages at night to sacking whole towns in broad daylight, displacing residents and occupying the affected communities.
“The House is disappointed at the reactive responses of the Nigerian armed forces to these attacks under this administration and their inability to proactively attack the publicly-known locations of these herdsmen or establish a permanent base at restive locations in line with globally-recognised rules of engagement,” he said.
The lawmaker from Benue State also expressed worry over the inability of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to live up to its responsibilities of providing relief materials and rehabilitation of affected persons and communities.
He warned that the House would no longer condone the continuous killing of innocent Nigerians despite the plethora of motions and resolutions passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.
‘’We have no other option than to directly engage the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces who has the primary responsibility of ensuring the security and welfare of every Nigerian citizen,” he said.
The House, therefore, resolved that when the President honours the invitation, he would be expected to explain: the inability of the armed forces under his watch to stop the recurring death of scores of innocent Nigerians annually from systematic attacks by killer-herdsmen and alleged bandits and the gradual occupation of affected communities by these herdsmen despite countless assurances and statements by him to stop the attacks; his selective and ineffective response to the killing of Nigerians by herdsmen especially when they occur in certain parts of the country like Benue; the immediate measures he intends to employ as the C-in-C to provide the armed forces, including the police, with the required resources (equipment, welfare, etc.) to confront and dislodge the killer-herdsmen from their hideouts, the measures he intends to employ to establish permanent presence in immediate proximity to affected communities and provide a timeline within which these attacks will be curtailed so that Nigerians can return to their ancestral homes and means of livelihood, amongst others.
In adopting the motion, the House resolved to constitute an ad-hoc committee to interface with the presidency and engage the minister of Defence, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and the service chiefs in a public hearing to evolve permanent solutions to the menace.
PMB Meets Security Chiefs To Review Military Offensive In Zamfara
Also yesterday, President Buhari met with security chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to appraise the security situation in Zamfara State.
After the briefing by the security chiefs, the President ordered them to deal ruthlessly with the bandits.
Last Sunday, the federal government banned mining activities in the state as part of measures to check the preponderance of fatal attacks on communities in the state by the bandits.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, the CDS, Gabriel Olonishakin, said that they reviewed the strategies on handling insecurity in various parts of the country, especially Zamfara State.
He said that President Buhari gave them marching orders to immediately deal with the bandits “ruthlessly,” and ensure that they were routed from their hideouts.
Olonishakin said: “The security meeting we just had with Mr President was to review the strategies that we are adopting in confronting security issues in Zamfara State and other places nationwide. And this exercise is to address all the issues including kidnapping, banditry and other associated issues confronting the nation and we are coming out with a revised strategy to handle those challenges.
“The marching order is for us to deal with this issue immediately and ruthlessly and ensure that all those bandits are immediately dealt with and all those issues that are bordering on our security are properly addressed,” he said.
We’ve Flushed Out Kidnappers From Abuja-Kaduna Highway – IGP
Also speaking after the meeting with Buhari, the inspector-general of police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, declared that the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway was no longer under the control of kidnappers.
Adamu assured travellers that the road was now safe as the kidnappers who had been terrorising them had either been arrested or fatally injured in confrontations with the police.
He said: “I want to assure Nigerians that the Kaduna-Abuja Road is now safe. We have cleared the road, we have arrested a lot of kidnappers during confrontations with some of them; some were fatally injured. Our patrol teams, the combined security services that are patrolling the road, are constantly there.”
On ‘Operation Puff Adder’ launched by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) last Friday to tackle kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry in Kogi, Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna Katsina states, and the FCT, the police boss said that 46 suspects had been arrested and two of their victims rescued.
Adamu disclosed this at a meeting with strategic police managers in Abuja yesterday.
He said “The only way we can stay ahead of criminals is to continually generate actionable intelligence to support our anti-crime functions. This can only be achieved if we cultivate citizens’ partnership and confidence by returning policing to the people.
“Consequently, in reviewing our current strategies, we must fully engage the two core policing policies of the current police dispensation which are built on community policing and intelligence-led policing. While we at the apex leadership level will strive to support and motivate you, we shall, henceforth, not hold back in sanctioning any officer whose dereliction or weak leadership capacity continually occasions increases in crimes.
“Indeed, it is in furtherance to our commitment to complementing you that ‘Operation Puff Adder’ was conceptualised and launched on April 5, 2019, to address in the shortest possible time, the threat of kidnapping, armed robbery and armed banditry in Kogi, Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna, and Katsina states, as well as the FCT. It is gladdening to note that this initiative has recorded remarkable achievements.
“Between April 5, 2019 (when the operation was launched) and today, it has recorded the following achievements: 46 suspects arrested for kidnapping and armed banditry; 10 suspects killed; two victims safely rescued; 18 firearms recovered (nine AK 47 rifles and nine other locally fabricated/automatic weapons); 1300 live AK47 ammunition recovered; 28 live cartridges recovered and 10 extra rifle magazine recovered,” he said.
The IGP, however, lamented that “criminal records point to a significant rise in crime following the conclusion of the general elections. While some security experts have attributed the trend to the disengagement of the criminal elements from politically-related activities for which they might have been engaged during the elections, others have attributed the trend to socio-economic factors.
“While the debate on the cause of the upsurge in crime could be a subject of debate or academic conjecture, what remains undebatable is the fact that the primary and statutory duty of the Nigeria police as the lead agency in internal security framework, is the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of our internal security order,” he said.
The IGP therefore urged officers and men of the police to double their efforts in tackling crimes in their areas.