By Umar Mohammed, Gusau and Abu Modu, Minna
In what appeared to be renewed offensive operation against bandits in the North East, the federal government has deployed additional 6000 soldiers to Zamfara.
The state governor, Bello Matawalle, who disclosed this yesterday in a statewide broadcast on the current security challenges in the state.
He stated: “We have already secured the release of all the 279 abducted students, hale and hearty. They have all been reunited with members of their families. Following this development, l undertook a four-day working visit to Abuja to brief Mr President and other critical stakeholders on security.
“As a fall out of my discussion with President Muhammadu Buhari and security high commands in Abuja, it was resolved that six thousand additional troops are to be deployed to the state to complement the current efforts by the security forces in the state. The troops will soon arrive in the state for their operations.
“As you may recall, President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered security forces to shoot on sight anyone found in possession of AK 47 without permission. You may also recall that Zamfara State has been declared by the national security council as a “no-fly zone” in addition to banning of all mining activities in the state”.
The governor also said President Buhari has given a two-month ultimatum within which any recalcitrant bandit should repent and embrace peace through the state peace dialogue.
“Again, the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, has agreed to a timeframe within which the recalcitrant bandits should accept our peace truce and surrender their weapons to the government,” he said.
Matawalle warned politicians against utterances that are capable of causing setbacks to the state’s peace process, saying the government would no longer condone any act of sabotage.
He also banned riding of motorcycles in groups and in large numbers as well as conveying of more than two persons on one motorcycle throughout the state.
“Government also prohibits the movements of a large number of motorbikes in all the nooks and crannies of the state. Security forces are hereby directed to ensure total compliance. Government observed, with dismay, the persistence of the activities of some yansakai, despite the banning of such vigilante groups. This order still remains in force”, he noted.
Matawalle also alleged sabotage by those he described as unscrupulous elements within and outside the state.
“Even though we are enjoying relative peace as a result of the dialogue and reconciliation programme, many bandits have refused to key into the programme and elected to sustain their attacks and other nefarious activities against our communities.
“Government has equally observed that there is sabotage by some unscrupulous elements, both within and outside the state. It is also observed that informants are becoming rampant and their callous activities undetected due to some of our people’s attitude of indifference,” he said.
The governor noted that the state government has decided to take certain measures as a further push end the activities bandits in the state.
Outlining the measures, he said, “The recalcitrant bandits have been given two months from today within which to embrace the peace process and surrender their weapons to the government; “All political actors are hereby advised to desist from any acts capable of endangering the state’s security, as security agencies have been directed to monitor the activities of all the political actors and take appropriate action against the violators;
“Traditional rulers and Local Government Councils’ sole administrators are hereby directed to always remain in their respective domains to monitor the influx of any suspicious characters.
“Conveyance of more than two persons on a motorbike is hereby banned with immediate effect. Security agents are directed to arrest and arraign the violators of this order for prosecution”.
Bandits Tricked Us To Get Money For Weapons – Bello
Meanwhile, Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani-Bello, has said that bandits tricked the state to believe that they had repented and got money to buy more weapons for their gory attacks.
The governor said it was the reason the state government called off any form of dialogue with the criminals, stating that the terrorists tricked the state with fake repentance to get money to buy more weapons.
Sani-Bello said on realisation of the antics of the bandits, they stop any form of dialogue with the armed bandits.
He however said those who are ready to genuinely repent would be rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society without cash given them.
The governor who spoke on Thursday while he was with the vigilante group at Mariga local government said, “I am here to thank the vigilantes, boost their moral and to offer more support from the state government so that they can continue to support the police and other security agencies in the fight against bandits and other criminal tendencies.”
“Any bandit that surrenders his weapons and repents from his heinous way of living would be forgiven, and provided with a means of livelihood which would not necessarily include any cash backing.
“From experience, it has been discovered that the repentant bandits, after collecting cash from the dialogue option, they will purchase more weapons and return to their old ways of banditry.”
While lauding the efforts of the vigilantes in the state, Governor Sani-Bello added that compensation for the families of those who paid the ultimate prize was ongoing and would remain a continuous exercise.
He stated that to improve their onslaught against banditry, automatic Pump Action Guns and other sophisticated weapons would be provided for the vigilantes.
He assured that no threat would make him disband the vigilante in the state, saying “we are not going to disband vigilante because; even when banditry stops, the vigilante will remain to form a kind of security within the community.”