The recent killing of innocent citizens in Bawan Daji village of Anka council area of Zamfara State by armed bandits jolted many Nigerians, especially residents of the state. In an attack that defies logic because it was unprovoked, the armed men stormed the village and opened fire indiscriminately on the hapless residents, killing no fewer than 30 people and injuring scores.
Attacks on communities in the state by bandits have become a recurring phenomenon just as incidences of cattle rustling have taken a turn for the worse. Disturbed by the attacks, residents of the Bawan Daji community who are predominantly farmers, met to discuss measures to be taken against the bandits ahead of the 2018 farming season. It was reported that the attacks occurred while the meeting was ongoing.
Sadly, the bandits were said to have threatened that there would be no farming activities in the area this year’s farming season. Of course, the killings have been a source of concern to many, especially the Emir of Anka, Alhaji Attahiru Ahmed, who could not hold his emotion as he shed tears while receiving Governor Abdulaziz Yari who paid him a sympathy visit.
We recall with sadness the fact that killings by armed men prompted the launch of an army exercise, Operation Harbin Kunama (Scorpion Sting). Although the situation subsided shortly after the deployment of troops, recent happenings indicate that the area is gradually returning to the sad old days of killings and maimings.
In our opinion, threatening to stop residents of a predominantly farming community from tilling their land at a time the government is using agriculture as the pivot of its diversification programme is synonymous to telling Nigerians to starve to death.
It is lamentable, in our view, that in an environment where residents are supposedly living in peace, some renegades will have the temerity to threaten a whole community and bar from engaging in their legitimate ventures.
The truth is that the horrific incidences of bandits’ attacks have continued unabated in the area due to inadequate security. It calls to question what the police and other security services are doing to stem the tide. They are supposed to take proactive measures to combat the activities of these bandits.
The Zamfara killings, like all other such acts in different parts of the country, call to mind the urgent need for security operatives to intensify surveillance efforts.
And like the Emir of Anka rightly stated, it is difficult to exonerate the security operatives from these killings, which are being carried out in ways that compel one to wonder if the country is at war.
Even more worrisome is the fact that politicians from the state appear to have turned the unwholesome scenario to an opportunity to play their game.
More than anything else, we urge them to synergise so as to help provide all the needed support and cooperation to the security operatives with a view to ensuring a frontal onslaught on these bandits who are making life miserable for hapless citizens.
Good enough, the state governor, in his capacity as the chief security officer, has issued a shoot-at-sight order on anyone caught carrying a gun.
This order, coming at a time the police are embarking on mop-up of illegal arms, if effectively complied with, will no doubt contribute to ending these senseless killings, not just in Zamfara State but in all other parts of the country where such heinous acts are going on.
But even as we look up to security operatives to address the situation and ultimately make it possible for residents of Bawan Daji community and, indeed, other communities that have been subjected to attacks by these bandits to live in peace, it is imperative to stress the need for the locals to support security operatives with vital information.
We commend the decision by the Nigerian Air force to deploy Special Forces to the state to help end the killings. The Special Forces must be further deployed to remote areas of the state where they would be engaged in internal security operations.
Beyond the deployment, relevant stakeholders, including the police, must launch an investigation with a view to arresting the perpetrators of these killings who should be made to face the full wrath of the law.