By Nwangwu Uba
For years mining
The situation became worse with the advent of banditry in the state as many of the communities where much of these mineral deposit s are found became target of banditry. The bandits who may have forced the indigenes of the target communities in the state to flee gave room for such miners to continue their illegal mining of mineral deposits which are scattered all the state ranging from basalt, barite bentonite, calcite,coal copper to dolomite. others are fedspar, gypsum, gravel, granite, quarz, pebble, slag, limestone and gold.
The illegal mining activities in the state was too worrisome that the Zamfara state government was said to have spent 300 million in January 2014 to conduct a census of the mineral resources across the state. The state government may have opened the road for illegal miners to come into in the state when it started partnering with some foreign mining companies explore the mineral deposits.
Recall that Mukhtar Lugga, then state Commissioner for Environment had revealed that the intention of the Abdulazziz yari government was to invite 4,000 licensed mining companies in the country to the state for discussion on issues on the approved mining activities.
Investigation by Value News shows that both the Federal and the Zamfara state government were losing billions of naira annually from the activities of illegal miners who took advantage of the licensed miners to operate side by side.
Based on intelligence report , President Muhammadu Buhari, may have known that the only way to deal a decisive blow on the criminal elements in the state , particular the bandits was to suspend mining activities. The office of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, headed by Ambassador Ahmed Rufa’i, was said to have clearly established a strong and glaring connection between the activities of the armed bandits in the state and the illegal miners with both allegedly re-enforcing each other to remain in the business.
The NIA Director General was said to have recommended to the government the need to suspend mining activities in the state to control the killer gang. The President did not hesitate in giving approval to it. The appearance of Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, acting Inspector General of Police, IGP and Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to the Katsina state born Nigerian President to broke the news of the suspension of mining activities in the state to Journalists speaks volume.
The President may have sounded the Head s of the various security agencies , particular Adamu, the acting IGP, to know their plan in curtailing the activities of the miners and the bandits with the planned action. Unknown to him, the IGP has his plan B to deal with the situation and restore normalcy to the state.The fallout was the launching of Operation Puff Adder, on Friday . April 5, 2019, along the Abuja-Kaduna Express way. the launching of the tactical Unit was an indication that there is no hiding place for the bandits and their illegal miner sponsors in the state.
Many see the launching of the police tactical Unit to confront the bandits in Zamfara state as similar to Operation Python dance launched by Tukur Buratai, a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff, CAS, to flush out the BokoHaram Insurgents in the north eastern states of Borno and Yobe.
Prior to the government action, Bawa Bwari, the minister of mines and steel, was said to have mooted the idea of suspending mining activities in the state when it was confirmed from security sources of a working relationship between the bandits and illegal miners in the state but could not follow it up until Rufa’i, the NIAnstepped in .
Adamu, the IGP may have waited for an opportunity to hit at the bandits and illegal miner sponsors and the opportunity came with the launching of the Puff Adder. The tone of Adamu, the acting IGP, while breaking the news speaks to Journalis speaksvolume. ”All foreign miners on mining sites in Zamfara state are to vacate their locations or lose their operating license.
The IGP was emphatic: mining activities in Zamfara and its environs are hereby suspended with immediate effect . He made it clear that any mining company which engages in mining activities in the affected locations in the state where the bandits operate will have its license revoked
. The Presidential order may have emboldened the Operation Puff Adder members to swing into action to tackle headlong criminal activities along the Abuja-Kaduna highway and the adjoining communities extending to Kogi, Katsina, Niger and Zamfara states to fish out the bandits.
The no nonsense acting IGP, had said that the Operation is aimed at reclaiming every public space in the Zamfara state under the control of the bandits. The police boss was optimistic that the perpetrators of the violence and their collaborators in the state would be” arrested and brought to book”.
Note that the IGP has given his words to the President that with the launching of the Operation Puff Adder the police would achieve the ”total destruction of all criminal camps and hide outs of the bandits in the state.
It is not surprising why he has called for public support and intensified collaboration with the traditional and religious leaders in the affected communities where the bandits are holding hostage as the security agencies personnel embark on ”flushing out the armed bandits in the state.
The police boss, according to sources, had repeatedly assured the indigenes of the affected communities under the bandits siege that the police and other security agencies personnel are doing everything within their powers to” bring the security situation in the state under control”.
True to his words, in the last two day he s has sent a signal to the bandits that Zamfara state may no longer be safe for them to carry out their banditry as Operation Puff Adder members have been deployed to everywhere in the state to compliment the efforts of the soldiers .
note that last February when the notorious bandits had attacked Tungar Takota and Tudum Wadar Maijatau communities in the state, they left in their trails 14 deaths and set several houses ablaze. The worst hit were houses built with raffia mat. The hoodlums were also said to have set ablaze Ruwan Bore Community in Gusau local government area.
It was reported that Ade Marafa, the elder sister to Kabiru Marafa, a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria was killed by the criminal gang numbering over 100. They were said to have also kidnapped her husband, one Ibrahim and demanded for a N30 million ramsome to facilitate his release, an indication that they were toeing the same line of action, kidnaping, like the Boko Haram Insurgents whose operations have been restricted to Borno state with occasional attacks .
The Zamfara bandits may have known that there is trouble ahead as there have not been any reported attacks in any part of the state since Adamu, the police boss declared war on them last Friday. Many of them and their sponsors were said to have gone underground to avoid falling into the waiting hands of Adamu’s men who are poised for war and trained to kill. ” The bandits may have come to the end of the road”, a security expert said.