BY Chibuzo Ukaibe, Nkechi Isaac, Tunde Oguntola, Abuja, Haruna Mohammed, Bauchi, Anayo Onukwugha, Port Harcourt, HEMBADOON ORSAR, Makurdi, OKECHUKWU OBETA, Awka and ISAIAH BENJAMIN, Kaduna
Apparently miffed by the spate of insecurity in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered security agencies to shoot anyone carrying AK-47.
Senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, who hinted about the presidential directive in an interview with the BBC Hausa service, said Buhari ordered a clampdown on bandits who have refused to surrender.
Asked about effort being made to weed out bandits in the North, the presidential spokesperson declared that the federal government has opted for lethal force.
Shehu said, “The president has ordered security forces to go into the bushes and shoot whoever they see with sophisticated weapons like AK-47.
“He ordered that whoever is seen with terrible weapons at all should be shot immediately.”
Explaining why the federal government declared Zamfara State a no-fly zone, Shehu said the decision was taken based on intelligence that arms were being transported to the bandits with private jets.
According to him, the jets are also used to cart away gold from the state to Dubai, which was the reason why the government also banned mining activities in the state.
He noted: “These jets are being used to pick up gold that is being mined in some parts of Zamfara and exported. This is strong because at the moment.”
“There is a Nigerian gold market in Dubai. The government is losing; the people of this country are losing. That is why it is said that gold mining is banned for those who are not made by the government.”
Extend No-fly Zone Order To Benue, Taraba, Borno – ACF
But the apex northern socio-cultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), yesterday appealed to the federal government to also extend the no-fly zone order to Benue, Taraba and Borno states like it did in Zamfara State.
ACF in a statement personally signed by its national chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh, expressed support for the federal government’s decision to ban flights from Zamfara airspace, appealing however that the order should be extended to the other states where, according to it, helicopters reportedly supply arms to bandits and insurgents.
“We also plead with the government to extend the ban to other states like Benue, Taraba, Borno where there are rumours that helicopters frequently drop arms for bandits and insurgents operating in these states,” Ogbeh said.
The ACF chairman added the forum is of the firm belief that such an extended ban would curtail the operations of the criminals in those areas.
Zulum Insists On Mercenaries To End Insecurity
Apparently burning in an unquenchable desire to frontally tackle the spectre of insecurity bedeviling the country, Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum yesterday insisted that the federal government miust hire foreign mercenaries for the task.
Zulum who is chairman of North-East Governors Forum (NEGF) said government must demonstrate its commitment to ending the current insecurity ravaging the north-east and other parts of the country.
The chairman of NEGF Zulum spoke during the 4th meeting of the forum in Bauchi State.
“The federal government must demonstrate a serious commitment to ending the insurgency; we must hire mercenaries to help us,” Zulum declared.
He added that the federal government must demonstrate seriousness by involving its allies and hiring mercenaries to end Nigeria’s evolving security challenges.
Governor Zulum urged the federal government to consider hiring mercenaries to address not only the Boko Haram insurgency but also banditry and kidnapping in other parts of Nigeria.
Zulum also said the governors of the North-East were worried about the security challenges posed by Boko Haram, lamenting that corruption was also responsible for the infrastructural challenge bedeviling the region.
“For us to address the problem of insecurity, out-of-school children, infrastructural challenges, we must stem down corruption in order to succeed,” he said.
For his part, the host and governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, also described insecurity in the North East as the greatest challenge facing the governors of the region.
The governor, who called for a concerted effort among stakeholders in the country as a means of addressing the enduring security challenge in the region, said: “We have failed as a government if we are unable to secure the lives and property of our people.
“We must muster the courage to address the security challenges facing our region, and to do that, we must empower our local security architecture. Despite our travails, we must be ready to have the courage to confront the challenges,” the Bauchi governor said.
Bala said the north-east region must dovetail various initiatives, including harnessing the agricultural potentials of the area to provide job opportunities for the youth, which he said will help tame the challenge of insecurity.
I Am Ready To Resign For Security To Reign – Matawalle
Meanwhile, Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, has said he is willing to step down if it would bring a lasting solution to the prevalent insecurity in his state.
“I am not intimidated. If I know that my resigning as a governor will make the people sleep with their two eyes closed, I can resign. I am ready to do what will bring security. I am not power-hungry. I have been having a sleepless night to protect the people of Zamfara State,” the governor declared last night on Politics Today, a Channels Television programme.
The governor’s comment is coming a day after the 279 schoolgirls abducted from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, regained their freedom.
Matawalle said some repentant bandits helped to facilitate the release of the schoolgirls.
He said his government had never given money to repentant bandits, adding that they only engaged them in skills acquisition.
Reacting to the president’s decision of no fly zone over the state, he said while he accepts it and agrees with it, he would have preferred that he is consulted over the matter.
He, however, stated that while such action was taken over Zamfara State which does not have an airport, other states which have airports and are suffering similar security crisis have not no fly zone order.
He said, “People are saying amnesty, it is not about amnesty. What amnesty means maybe is the federal government provides some huge amount of money.
“Nobody gave amnesty to these people (referring to repentant bandits), we only convince them to give them some trading in various skills as skills acquisition.
“We are not giving them kobo; we are not giving them anything. People talk about amnesty, is like people are thinking that huge amount of money was collected and given to them.
“No single kobo was given to them, any of them who repented, nothing was given to them.”
Don’t Declare State of Emergency in Zamfara, PDP Tells FG
Meanwhile, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday warned the governing All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government against any plot to impose a state of emergency in Zamfara State over the security situation in the state.
The party alleged that the state of emergency move by the federal government was a sinister plot to forcefully takeover the governance of the PDP-controlled Zamfara State.
PDP national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, who conveyed the party’s warning during a press conference in Abuja yesterday, said the PDP will not accept the undermining and subverting of democratic order in the state by creating the impression that the state government, under Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle, was to blame for the failures of the APC-led federal government to contain insecurity in all parts of the country.
Ologbondiyan said APC’s plot to derail the Matawalle administration and forcefully takeover the state started immediately after the Supreme Court handed victory in the Zamfara State governorship election to the PDP, adding that the plot heightened after the governor resisted pressures to decamp to the APC.
He added that the party had also expressed concern about series of devious statements against Matawalle by the APC.
Ologbondiyan, however, asked the APC to leave Governor Matawalle alone and take up their responsibility of confronting bandits, terrorists, kidnappers and vandals, particularly those they brought from other countries.
He said, “It is further instructive to state that the Matawalle administration adopted an intervention approach as a distressed measure following the manifest failures of the Buhari Presidency to guarantee the security of lives and property in the state.
“It is on record that Governor Matawalle is not the first governor, particularly in the North-West, to adopt such approach in the face of the huge incapacity of the Buhari administration to save lives.
“More so, there is escalated banditry, terrorism, kidnapping and other forms of violent acts in APC controlled states of the North West, like Kaduna and Katsina; in the North East of Borno and Yobe as well as the North Central states of Niger, Nasarawa, Plateau and Kogi, yet no attempt has been made by the Buhari Presidency to intimidate the governors of the various states, seek to impose a state of emergency or declare such states as “no fly zone.
“It is even more worrisome that the Buhari presidency will gloss over Kaduna, Niger and Mr. President’s home state of Katsina, where killings, kidnapping and abduction have become a daily routine, only to be contemplating an emergency situation in Zamfara”.
Northern Governors To Use STI To Tackle Banditry, Kidnapping
Governors under the platform of the Northern State Governors Forum (NSGF) have revealed their plan to deploy the instruments of science, technology and innovation (STI) to tackle the spate of banditry and kidnapping in the region.
The forum’s chairman, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, who made this known, said state governors have decided to build a new industrialised northern Nigeria in order to address poverty and idleness which are the major causes of the security challenges such as banditry, kidnapping and youth restiveness prevalent in the North.
Lalong spoke when he received the executive vice chairman of NASENI, Prof Mohammed Sani Haruna and the agency’s management team, who paid a courtesy call on him at the Plateau Government House in Jos yesterday.
He added that the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) had been designated as the technical partner to the governors to drive the initiative.
CAN Berates Gumi Over Profiling Of Security Agencies
The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday expressed shock and disappointment over the recent profiling of security operatives by Sheikh Ahmad Gumi while addressing some bandits in a Niger Forest.
In a statement made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday in Abuja, CAN general secretary, Barr Joseph Daramola, called on Sheik Gumi, who is an Islamic leader, to immediately withdraw the statement credited to him in the interest of peace and unity of the country.
Sheikh Gumi was quoted as saying, “What I want you people to understand is, soldiers that are involved in most of the criminalities are not Muslims. You know, soldiers have Muslims and non-Muslims. The non-Muslims are the ones causing confusion just to ignite crisis.”
But CAN said yesterday that anyone pointing fingers at Christian soldiers to be solely attacking armed bandits does not wish the country well and doesn’t want the war against terrorism and banditry to end in victory for the country.
Unity, Security Of Lives, Properties Of Nigerians Should Be Our Major Concern – Ortom
Also, Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has urged all state governors across the country to take the unity and security of lives and property of Nigerians as their major concern irrespective of ethnicity or political affiliations.
This is even as the governor said he decided to sheath his sword in the feud with his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed, in the interest of their party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the country for a peaceful co-existence.
Ortom spoke yesterday at the Makurdi airport on arrival from Port Harcourt, Rivers State where he had a reconciliatory meeting with Governor Mohammed at the instance of Governor Nyesom Wike and Adamawa State governor, Ahmadu Fintiri.
He explained that instead of latching out at each other as leaders, they agreed that there were better ways to resolve their dispute.
The governor noted that at a time Nigeria is facing serious security challenges, it is better for him and his Bauchi counterpart to sheathe their swords and work for a better Nigeria, stressing that in politics, there is no permanent enemy or friend.