By Suleiman Umaru
Bello Matawalle, governor of Zamfara sate, described as the home of the Bandits and Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, an Islamic Cleric, and his close ally appear to have path ways. The duo had been at the forefront in the campaign to get President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, grant Amnesty to the armed Bandits, operating in the north west geo-political region as former Late President Umaru Yar’adua had, granted the Niger Delta militants.
Matawalle, the Zamfara governor, may have realised that the Bandits he had always made a case for to be granted amnesty by the Federal government do not really deserve it but needed’’ to be flushed out for peace to reign in the state and other parts of the north west geopolitical region.
The governor may have shocked Nigerians on Friday, September 10, 2021, when he declared that his Administration, which have done everything within its powers to get the Bandits drop their gun and embrace peace but failed to grab it would no longer be given such opportunity. ‘’This Administration will no longer grant amnesty to the Bandits’’, he had said.
he may have be forced to speak out due to the pressure being mounted on him by the Bandits who could no longer bear the superior fire power from the Nigeria military personnel and other security operatives since the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, under the close watch of Umar Dambata, a Professor ordered the Mobile Network service providers to shut down their facilities in Zamfara state as a way to cut off Communications among the Bandits in their various Camps in Zamfara ,state forests and other parts of the north. The service providers had acted on the directive of the NCC, to shut down its services in the north west state.
Ibrahim Dosara , the Zamfara Commissioner of Information had said that there are over 100 Bandits Camp in the state with 32,000 followers, which had made it possible form to attack targeted Communities , schools and kidnap students for ransom with ease.
Indeed, the armed Bandits and their Collaborators may have known that the game is up as they could no longer continue with the way they were going before the service providers shut down their sites in the state as they quickly raised a powerful team that was sent to the aggrieved Matawalle, the Zamfara governor, who was no longer interested in their case for making mockery of the amnesty granted to them to plead for cease fire and allow supply of food and other essential Commodities to their camps. The Bandits may have expected the governor to fall for their antics this time around but got it wrong.
Many had expected the governor to engage the services of the security operatives to arrest the Bandit sponsored Peace Committee members described as a decoy to buy time and return to the bush to continue their attacks after studying the situation.
Although, the governor who was blunt in his response to the Bandits peace Committee members, had refused to make peace with them, stating without apology, that ‘’what the security agencies personnel are doing to the Bandits is ‘’to send them to God to answer their questions’’ meaning their days that their days are numbered.
The governor may have succeeded in clipping the wings of the armed Bandits the new security measures he had put in place in the recent time to flush out the Bandits and their Collaborators in the state. The enforcement of the security measures by the fierce-looking military personnel and other security operatives, acccording to informed sources, may have cut off the supply of food , petrol and other essential Commodities to the Bandits in their various camps in the state.
It was not surprising why biting hunger and lack of Communication among the Bandits had made it impossible for them Coordinate their attacks in the state, let alone kidnap any person, as most of them who have tried to escape from the forest have fallen into the waiting hands of the ground troops.
The governor who could not his feelings had said that that the Bandits had continued to launch attack on Communities and schools, in the flashpoint Local government Areas as well as kidnap persons with the alleged support of the politicians who buy the motorcycles that are distributed to the people who sell to the Bandits in order to sustain the attack in the state for their own pecuniary gains.
The last time the Bandits had succeeded in their attack in the crisis ridden Zamfara was on September 3, 2021, the day the mobile service providers shut down their sites on the orders of Prof. Dambata. NCC, when they attacked Ruwan Doruwa Community in Maru Local government Area of the state.
The Criminal Elements were said to have killed four persons and embarked on a house to house abduction but lost out. The residents of the flash point Local government Areas in Kaduna and Niger, home state of Ibrahim Babangida, a retired army General and former military President may have also benefited from the cut –off Communications facilities by the GSM provides in Zamfara state as the Bandits have educed the frequency of attacks in these two states, thus giving the residents breathing space. This may have informed why they have changed tactics in their attacks to remain relevant I the region.
One of such tactics was the resort to Guerilla warfare. The killing of Silas Ali, a Clergy man, Pastoring the Evangelical Church of West Africa, ECWA, at Kibori Cpmmunity in Zango Kataf on Saturday , September 12, 2021, speaks volume.
Another strategy that was said to have been adopted by the Bandits to carry out their attacks on soft targets in the north was through dispatching of letters to the soft targets slated for attack as they could no longer attack Communities with ease for fear that the Security Operatives may finish them .
This evident with the recent Letters addressed to Shuni,Kwanar Kimba, Rikina, and Dange Communities , all in Dange/ Shuni, Local government Area of Sokoto state, to expect them, as confirmed by Kola Okunlola, the state Commissioner of Police on Sunday, September 13, 2021. This clearly shows what there is trouble in the Camp of the armed Bandit because of the Cut off of Communications facilities by the Mobile Network providers in Zamfara state.
Sheikh Gumi, an Islamic Cleric, the self- appointed Peace Negotiator between the Bandits and the government is no longer finding it funny over the pain being inflicted on the armed Bandits by the Nigerian military since their means of Communications have been cut off in Zamfara state, urging the military to stop the killings. Recall that on Monday, September 6,2021 he had said that the current military onslaught against the Bandits and armed herders in north west would not stop the banditry in the region.
The Islamic Cleric has made it clear to those that cares to listen that the continued killing of the Bandits and the armed herdsmen by the security personnel in Zamfara and other parts of the north of the country cannot win any guerilla warfare. He was said to have posted a message in his verified Facebook page that current military successes against the Bandits will only worsen the crisis.
He noted that if the Taliban in the Middle East country of Iran, could take over the government in KIstanbul, forcing, Ashraf Ghani, the country’s President to run for his safety, after twenty years of battle with the North American country of the United States, US and the allied Forces, to restore Democratic Rule failed, he did not see how the government troops woul be able to silence the Bandits, insisting that’’ they are going nowhere and already in battle gear’’, fueling speculations making the rounds that he is working with the Bandits.
This may have informed why Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-cultural organization, Urhobo Congress Union, Middl Forum, andother prominent social-cultural groups across the country have cautioned the government against accepting suggestion s from Sheik Gumi, who hobnobs with the Bandits and armed herdsmen that amnesty and compensation be extended to them to end the violence in the north.