By Suleiman Umaru
Bello Matawalle, All Progressive Congress, APC, governor, of Zamfara state in north western geo-political region is not a happy man. Matawalle’s source of unhappiness is the continuous killings of innocent people including Muslim worshippers in the state.
. Recall that Matawalle, the Zamfara state governor last August had signed into Law a bill passed by the state House of Assembly prescribing death penalty for Bandits, Kidnappers, Cattle rustlers, cultists and other Criminal elements , as part of his Administration’s efforts to end insecurity in the state but that was how he could go.
Suffice to say that no Bandit, Kidnapper, Cattle rustler, or Cultists and other Criminal elements in the state including Fulani herdsmen, working closely with the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram and the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, have been tried under the new Law, yet the killing in the state masterminded by the Bandits Group fighters have continued unabated.
Barely one week after President Muhammadu Buhari , had told the world Leaders at the 77th, United Nations, UN, General Assembly meeting in NewYork, in the North American country of the United States, US, that ‘’the Administration’s investments in improving security in the country are yielding dividends, the armed Bandits struck at Ruwan Jema Community in Bukkuyum Local government Area of Zamfara, killing over 11 Worshippers, while several others received various degrees of injury.
Salisu Ibrahim, a resident of the Jema Community, had said that the armed Bandits had invaded the Community in broad day light and headed straight to the Central Mosque where people had already gathered for Prayer and opened fire on them, fueling speculations making the rounds that both the Christian faithfuls and the Muslim Worshipers are also targets of the Bandits.
There are indications that the Police Tactical Team led by the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, in Bukkuyum, LGA, and the Vigilante group,on geting a distress call about the invasion of the Jema Community by the armed Bandits were said had mobilised and relocated to the village , for on the spot assessment of the situation but that was how far they could go.
The inability of the security operatives, according to informed sources, to arrive at the Jema Community early enough to confront he Bandits squarely may have led to their escape from the Community after their operation. Their inability to arrive the Community early as planned may not be unconnected to the poor state of the road and communication Networks caused by the nature of the area.
Ibrahim Dorsara, the Zamfara state Commissioner of Information had said that there are over 100 Bandit Camps, scattered all over the nooks and crannies of the state, which makes it easy for them to Launch attacks any Community, Kidnap and engage in Cattle rustling.
Many believe that the armed Bandits may have intensified their operations in Zamfara state in the recent time because Kaduna state , appears to have become too hot for them to operate any longer because Taoreed Lagbaja, an Major General and General Officer Commanding, GOC, One Division, Kaduna and his Operation Forest Sanity, OFS, personnel, have taken the battle to Bandits forest hideouts in Chikun and Igabi , LGAs, described as the home of the Bandits in the state.
This may have informed why the Bandit Group fighters, have channeled all their energy in renewing their attacks in Zamfara state, whic is much closer to neighbouring Niger Republic, a country through which the armed Bandits find their way to the state and other north western states of Sokoto, Kastina, Buhari home state including Niger, home state of Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army and former Nigerian military President.
The worry of many was that in spite of the of the promises that had been made by the Katsina state born Nigerian President over the last seven years to do more to give all the necessary support to the country’s security outfits to tackle the country’s security challenge headlong, the Bandits Group and their Terrorists Collaborators from the north east and other trans- border Bandits are still finding their way into Nigeria to Launch attacks, kill and go.
Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, a Muslim Cleric, had revealed that the Buhari Administration had spent over $16 billion to battle Banditry and Terrorism, in the country over the last seven years but not much have been achieved. The Muslim Cleric had said that if the funds deployed in fighting insecurity in the country by the Buhari Administration had been used to address the needs of the Bandits, Terrorists and armed herdsmen including provision of basic social amenities and training, they would have laid down their arms long ago.
Sheikh Gumi has left no one in doubt that he is working closely with the Bandits as he had said that ‘’in most of the Bandits and Fulani herdsmen Camps that had been visited in Zamfara state by his Team, he has come to the conclusion that what is happening in the state is nothing but an insurgency as obtained in Borno and Yobe states, in north eastern Nigeria geo-political region.
It was not surprisising why he has asked the Nigerian government to use the yearly security budget ‘’in addressing the demands of the Bandits , operating in the north western states of Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna , Katsina and the north central state of Niger, , instead of waging war against them.
Indeed, the unguarded Statements by Sheikh Gumi, that bordered on security issues may have informed why the Nigerian President, who has less than eight months to hand over power to the next government has been under intense pressure to arrest the Muslim Cleric for questioning.
The recent arrest of Tukur Manu, Sheik Gumi, Media Consultant and self-appointed Negotiator, between families of victims of the Bandits and the Criminal elements, in Cairo, International airport, in the North African country of Egypt by the INTERPOL, and the Egyptian security operatives, working closely with the Department of State Security, DSS, speaks volume. The arrest of Manu, who is currently in DSS custody, may have sent a message to Sheikh Gumi,that it is not going to be business any longer as he can be arrested at any time.
Only recently, the Police Operatives in Zamfara state arrested eight suspected suppliers of ammunition, military uniforms, motorcycles and foodstuff to the Bandits in their forest hideouts in the state. Mohammed Shehu,, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, DSP, and the Zamfara Police Command spokesperson had said that that the suspects were arrested by the Police tactical squad I n Gusau, and Tsafe LGAs, in the state.
The Zamfara Police Command spokesperson had said that the suspects had specialized ‘’ in providing information, supplying military camouflage and ammunition to the Bandits’’. He further disclosed that the suspects had at one time or the other negotiated and delivered huge amounts, that runs into millions of naira as ransom from the families of the victims to the Bandits Group for a commission.
According to the Zamara Police Command spokesperson, the Command Tactical Squad were able to apprehend the Criminal elements as they had acted on intelligence information about suspected activities of one Zainu Lawali, who had claimed to be an ex-soldier , in the area.
The alleged ex-soldier was said to have been arrested in possession of a locally fabricated revolver, military camouflage uniform, cartridges and other numerous weapons, including military Identity cards, ID. Alhassan Lawali, another suspect arrested was said to have confessed during interrogation to having supplied 14 new motorcycles to the Bandits in their forest hideout in the state at the rate of N750,000 .00 each.
The Zamfara police Command tactical squad on surveillance patrol along the Gusau-Kotor Kosi -Mada axis were said to have also arrested one Umar Manaro, a notorious Bandit , who has been terrorising residents of Mada and Kotor koki areas of the state over the years.
Recall that on the spot search of the arrested Bandit, the police operatives had found one AK 47, one Lar rifle and 174 rounds of live ammunition in his possession which were promptly seized. The Police operatives in the state were said to have continued to make more arrests of the Bandits and their suppliers after the arrest of Manaro, a nortorious Bandit.
In a related development, Mike Ejiofor, a former Director in DDSS, has urged the Katsina state born Nigerian President in his capacity as the Commander –In-Chief, of the Nigerian Armed Forces, and Chairman, Nigerian Security Council, NSC, ‘’to allow state –owned security outfits like Amotekun, Ebubeagu, Benue Guards and Private security outfits deployed to Banks carry AK.47, so that they match up with assault rifles of non-state actors like the Bandits Group and Terrorists’’.
Ejiofor, a former Director of the DSSS, had said that that ‘’tis is one of the best ways the Buhari Administration would be able to check crimes in the society. He had said that’’ if these well, formal and established state –owned and private security outfits are allowed to carry these prohibited firearms, they will be more active because they are on the ground than the regular police’’.
He fears that more violence would be recorded in the country as electioneering campaigns for the 2023, general elections , begins on Wednesday, September 28, 2022, as politicians have known that they can no longer manipulate elections. This is because Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, have blocked all areas that could be exploited by politicians to rig the election with the introduction of the electronic voting.