Zamfara: Bandits Heading To The End Of The road As FG. Order Miners To Vacate Location

By Nwangwu Uba

 For years mining activities , both licensed and illegal have been going on in the geo-political region of the mineral-rich  Zanfara state.

 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.

Zamfara Bandits

 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.

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