By Suleiman Umaru
When Bello Matawalle, governor of the north western state geo-political region of Zamfara state reuested Isah Ibrahim Patami, minister of Communication and Digital Economy and Umar Isah Dmbata, Chairman, National Communication Commission, NCC, to order the Teleecommunication Companies to withdraw their services in 14 Local government Areas in the state described as home of the Bandits and it was granted, many have expected to stand by it. Matawalle may have allowed himself to be convinced by Political Associates to reconsider the restoration of the telecommunication services in the state last September.
It was not surprising that on November 27, 2021, the governor ordered the restoration of the telecommunication networks, for a start in Gusau, the state Capital, preparatory to extending the services to the remaining 13 Local government Areas still without telephone facilities ostensibly meant to weaken the Bandits Group in the Areas.
True to his promise, the governor had restored the telecommunication facilities in Gusau, in October 1, 2021, forcing the Bandits to restrategise on how to carry out their operations in the state without fear of the security operatives that they might be killed effortless .The restoration of the telephone Communication facilities in Gusau, described as a home for everybody in the state, including the Bandits, who live under cover, appears to have opened a new Chapter for the Bandits Group, which Ibrahim Dossara, the state Commissioner for Information had said have 100 Camps scattered all over the forests in the state with over 32,000 armed followers .
Mohammed Bazoum, President of Niger, had said the Bandits that the Bandits had entered into the country from Madawa and Bayan Dutsi regions of the country forests but escalated to Zamfara and other parts of the north western region through the forests in Maradi and Gao regions.
The restoration of the Telecommunication facilitities in Gusau, even when it has not been extended to Bungudu and other hot spots Local Government Areas in the state, have exposed the state to the Bandits for attacks as they could easily communicate in the forests to plan and execute their ataacks. The recent attack on Gada in Bungudu, LGA, of the state, where the armed men had killed Umara Bawan –Allah, the Community District Head and his two sons, speaks volume.
Dosara, the Commissioner for Information had said that apart from the killings in the Gada Community which was very devastating, they also razed down the house of the District Head, sending a message to the people that they have returned in full force to the state to do what they knw best: attack, kidnap and kill. The fear being expressed in different quarters in the state is the Bandits who have have their informants scattered all over the state would take advantage of the restoration of the telephone facilities in Gusau to give out information to the Criminal elements on how to plan their ayttacks. Note that Gada Community is just about seven Kilometers from the Bungudu town, the Headquarters of the Bungudu LGA, meaning that could come under attack of the Bandits Group, at any time.
The Bandits Group fighters had some Communities in Gusau LGA, ON Sunday, December 26, 2021. The Communities attacked by the Bandits, according to informed security sources included Geba, Tsakuwa, Gidan Kada, Gidan Kaura, among other villages. They were said to have invaded the villages on motorcycles. This may have informed why president Bazoum of Niger, had requested the regional governors to implement the total ban on the importation of motorcycles into Nigeria. It is instructive to note that virtually all the transit cargoes including motorcycles , meant for the land locked country , imported through the Autonomous port of Benin Republic and Bollore port, end up in Katsina, Daura, Kano, Sokoto and other major towns in the north western geopolitical region.
The Bandits may have heaved a sigh of relief when information filtered out about plan by Matawalle, the state governor to restore of telecommunication services in Gusau , the Zamfara state Capital as they have sent signal to the security operatives in the state to be ready for them as they had attacked some Communities in Shinkafi, another hot spot, LGA, for Banditry in the state killing 20 people. Many had expected the Zamfara state governor not to be a hurry to made do his words of restoring telecommunication f services in the state but still watch the security situation.
Although, he may have been encouraged to go ahead with the restoration of the telecommunication services with the arrest ofno fewer than than 2,000 suspected Bandit informants in the state. Dosara, the state Commissioner for Information had said that that those who could not bear the heat from the security operatives in the state had fled to other states and Niger Republic. He noted that those who could not escape from their hideout in the forests or move freely for fear of playing into the hands of the Force or the military are being starved or forced to feed on raw 1food following the government’s sanction.
Security sources believe that the Bandits that the Bandits Group fighters could not have the opportunity of regrouping to Launch attacks in the state in the recent time with impunity both not for the decision of the Zamfara state government to restore telecommunication facilities in Gusau, the state Capital and its environs.
Recall that Abdullahi Gandunje, the governor of Kano, home state of Late Aminu Kano, had said that the only way for the Force and the military to effectively contain the activities of the Bandits Group, terrorists and other Criminal elements across the country is for the Federal government to take over the nation’s forests, and set up an Institution to manage it to prevent cross-border movements. The Katsina born Nigerian President may be thinking along the same line going by his advice to the security Chiefs.
But Hassan Stan –Labo, a retired Army Colonel and former Intelligence Officer has advised the government to deploy the country drones in the fight against the Bandits, terorrists and other criminal elements across the country. Appearing on Channels Television sunrise daily programme , recently, the Army colonel lamented that the Nigeria government is not taking advantage of its superior technology to that of the Criminal elements killing effortlessly in Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Borno and Yobe to decisively with them once and for all. He maintaind that technology is not playing the needed role in the north west and north east geopolitical regions to crush the Bandits Group and the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, Boko Haram and the Islamic State of the West African Province, ISWAP in their forests hide out.
He had said that if the drones currently in use by the Nigerian AirForce. NAF, are not good enough to carry out surveillance because of several years of being outof use, he noted that there are still ‘’fantastic drone in the market that will still carry out such surveillance capabilities’’ to help the ground troops and the Force do their job.