By Nwangwu Uba
Illegal miners who have been using the services of bandits in Zamfara and other parts of the north to protect their business are in trouble. This is because, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, the no nonsense acting Inspector General of IGP, is in a hurry to clear the north of banditry activities and give meaning to life in the region.
The acting IGP could beat his chest of going to achieve result because he has the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari, who was said to have given all the tools and resources to work with as a way to motivate the officers. The acting IGP, who recently launched , operation Puff Ader, a Special Tactical Unit, of the Force, to carry out the exercise , may have decided to concentrate his efforts in Zamfara and Sokoto states , where is losing billions of naira monthly because of the activities of illegal miners and their foreign collaborators.
Giving his determination to break records as the first IGP, to stop banitry in the north, he has ordered officers to deployed to the two northern states of Zamfara and Sokoto to take the battle to the bandis den in the states. Note that Zamfara, was one of the state states that was carved out from the old Sokoto state. Another state also carved from the state was Kebbi.
Going by records from the ministry of Mines and Steel, the old Sokoto state , comprising of Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi, have large deposits of natural mineral resources, which had made it to be very attractive to illegal miners over the years. This is because much of government attention was focused in oil sector to earn bulk revenue to the neglect of exploration of other mineral resources that could boost the nation’s foreign exchange earnings. Take it or leave it, most of these foreign illegal have the back up of government officials in these states. This is why the acting IGP must look beyond the illegal miners to achieve the desired result.
Given the IGP recent visit to Zamfara, the state that had been under siege of the bandits for years, an angry Adamu, told the officers who are poised for action to be on the ”offensive to ensure total reclamation and domination of all the public spaces occupied by the criminal elements and bring them to book. The visit , according to Frank Mbah, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, was morale booster to the officers.
Mbah, the Force Spokesman, said the IGP, had visited the troubled state to carry out on the spot evaluation of the level of compliance to the government directive on the suspension of mining activities in the state as a way of forcing the bandits out from their hiding places. He noted that the visit also gave him opportunity to ”evaluate the operational and the deployment strategies being put place in the two states. As a gentleman officer, he was said to have had ”one -on-one” interaction with the officers involved in the Operation Puff Ader on ground. The IGP, who was ready to get to the root of the problem in Zamfara and Sokoto states to guide the Force in devising operational strategies to rout the criminal elements in the states, was said to have
The IGP, who was ready to get to the root of the problem in Zamfara and Sokoto states to guide the Force in devising operational strategies to rout the criminal elements in the states, was said to have attended a town hall meeting with relevant stakeholders in Gusau, the state Capital , under heavy security to avoid attacks by the faceless bandits . It was learnt that the discussion at the meeting was very revealing as he called on the people to ”support the Police and other security agencies personnel with intelligence gathering and any other relevant information that would aid the defeat of the bandits and restore normalcy to the state. The good news was that the people gave kudos to the Katsina state born Nigerian President for taking the bold initiative in banning mining activities in the state, an indication that the people knew that it was the major reason for the banditry in the state.
Aware that the bandits might intensify their killing in the state to put fear into the mind of the people for turning their back on them to support the government efforts to in recovering all the occupied public spaces in the state, they were said to have pleaded with the IGP to increase the deployment of ore policemen to the affected communities to checkmate the bandits.
Perhaps, one request , which the acting IGP, may find difficult to implement was their demand that members of the state Civilian Joint Task Force be allowed to ”join the police in tackling the menace of banditry in their Communities”. The GP may not bow to pressure to allow such to happen to avoid exposing the operational strategies of the police to the bandits through their network of informants in the state. Most of the people may have left the meeting disappointed as they saw it as an opportunity of penetrating the ranks of the Police to ensure that the remain ungovernable.
While the Adamu, the acting IGP, was in Zamfara and Sokoto states to perfect plans to rout the criminal elements , the bandits took over the forest in the Kankara local government Area of Katsina , Buhari home state. The Vigilantes, in the area, did not wait for Police instruction to move into the forest to confront the bandits before they turn the state into another Zamfara and Sokoto states in north west geo-political region.
Gambo Isah,a Superintendent of Police, and the state Police Command Spokes Person, reportedly said that the Vigilantes failed to heed to police advice not to launch an attack on the bandits in their hidout. The police may opted for a surprise attack on the bandits to apprehend some of them and bring them to Justice instead of putting them on the alert to put up a stiff resistance. They may be right in their thinking as the Vigilantes had killed seven of them in their hideout in the forest. In return they said to killed seven of the Vilantes, thus bringing the number of casualities on both sides to 14.
Worried by the encroachment of the bandits to the Katsina state, using the Kankara forest as their operational base, Sanusi Buba, the state Commissioner of Police has beefed up security in the state. He may not want the bandits to use the state as another testing ground for their weapons as he was determined to stop them before they gained firm root in the state to strike at targets.
Recall that on assumption of duties in the state , he has made clear to those that care to listen that he will make the state ”safer, secure, better and prosperous”, than he met it. Buba, was said to promised to deploy Community policing strategy to curb crime in the state.
It is not surprising why the Vigilante group in Kankara local government Area of the state could not wait for police instruction before attacking the bandits in their hideout in the forest.
When contacted, Usman Kankara Bello, a retired Comptroller of Nigerian Customs Service and nown Kawan , Katsina, confirmed that normalcy has returned to the area. The Monarch said security agencies personnel assisted the people to recover the seven Vigilantes who were killed in the forest of death by the bandits . They were said to have been buried according to Muslim rites.