By Lateef Adegbite
Barely one week that Bello Matawalle, governor of Zamfara, whose state had been declared a no fly zone by President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, shocked Nigerians when he threatened to expose the identities of those funding the Bandits , Lawan Ahmad, the Senate , President may have hit the nail on the head.
Ahmad, the Senate President may have taken advantage of Buba Marwa, a former Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa and now Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, visit to his office to pen up.
He had said without mincing words that the drug barons are funding the Insurgency in the north eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, home state of Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice president and and Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party , PDP, in the 2019, general elections
The Chief Lawmaker had said that the drug barons were also bankrolling the operations of the Bandits in the north west states of Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, and Niger state, home state of former military President Ibrahim Babangida, a retired army General.
According to him, the drug barons use the proceeds of the illegal drug trade to purchase arms and ammunitions for the Insurgents operating in the north east and the Bandits in the north west geo-political region including the kidnappers in different parts of the country. An aggrieved Ahmad, who could not hide his feelings had told Marwa, unequivocally that the drug traffickers had made Nigeria A major transit route which had caused the rising insecurity in the different parts of the country.
The abductions of 317 students of Government Girls Science secondary school, in Jangebe, in TalataMafara Local government Area of Zamfara state is still very fresh, an incident which the Katsina state born Nigerian President had said would be the last in the country. The Presidential declaration may have forced the Bandits who, the SENATE President had said are well funded to go back to the drawing as they were said to have raided Ruwan Tofa village in Maru Local government area of the state on Tuesday, February 2, 2021,
The Bandits were said to have also set scores of vehicles and shops on fire and abducted 60 people, confirming what the Senate President had said that drug barons are behind their operations in order to sustain their illegal drug business. It took the intervention of Matawalle, the state governor, who played the role of watchman, with the support of the Police and the army to get the students released after alleged payment of undisclosed amount to the bandits, a claim the governor had repeatedly denied.
Note that Ahmad, the Senate President had linked the funding of Insurgency in the north east and Banditry in the north west by drug barons to give Marwa, the NDLEA, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, CEO, an insight on why Insurgency and Banditry thrives in the country and the need for the drug agency to stop the menace.
He had said that for Marwa and his Commanders to do a good job in the drug war, across the country, ‘’the agency needs restructuring’’. Ahmad, may have gladdened the heart of the NDLEA Chairman when he equated the agency to be in the same league with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, under the Chairmanship of the 40 year-old Abdulrasheed Bawa and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC.
It was not surprising why he had said would enjoy the same support currently being enjoyed by those two agencies to many other things that the agency would be supported with to enable the operative do their work without Compromise.
Given Ahmad determination to see to the end of Insurgency in the north east and Banditry in the north west, the number one Lawmaker, had assured the retired General, that the National Assembly will definitely work with him, partner with him, and will do its best to give him all the necessary support ‘’to properly discharge his Presidential mandate of making Nigeria a dug free country
The Senate President was said to have made it clear to Marwa, the NDLEA boss, that there is no way the Islamic Fundamentalist Group , BokoHaram and the Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, particular, could have such sophisticated military hardware such RPGs and other massive arms without funds being channeled to fund their operations by these drug barons. The NDLEA boss may have gotten the message right that he had promise that the scourge drug trading will be tackled effectively to cut off one major source of funding of these Insurgents and Bandits in the country.
Only recently, the Marwa led drug agency intercepted cocaine and heroin, worth billion of naira at the Murtala Muhammed International airport, MMIA, and Lagos ports of Tin-can Island and the Premier port, Apapa. The NDLEA Chairman, had sent a message to the drug barons, who operates in Sao Paulo, in the north American country of Brazil, that it is no longer going to be business as usual as it tightened up security at major airports, seaports and land border areas in the country to checkmate the activities of the drug barons and their agents.
In a related development, Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the president on Media and Publicity had given an insight why the Nigerian President had declared, north west of Zamfara, a no fly zone. Shehu had said that the decision was taken because of security reports that ‘’helicopters were flown into the state by gangs engaged in illegal mining of gold deposits, noting that the criminal gangs supply arms to the Bandits in exchange for the gold.
This may have informed why the Nigerian President had ordered security agencies personnel, particular, the military Commanders ‘’ to go into the bushes and shoot whoever they see with AK 47’’. The President, according to the Media and Publicity aide believes it is the only way to end the senseless killings in Zamfara and other parts of the country. This is bad news to the Kidnappers, Bandits, herdsmen and other militias including smugglers who carry AK47 in the bush as their days are numbered.
Many believe that many of the Bandits, herdsmen , kidnappers and other militias in different parts of the country, particular, Zamfara state may be forced to go underground with the Presidential shoot at sight order.