By Suleiman Umaru
Bello Matawalle, the governor of the north west state of Zamfara, described as home of Bandits , who has been at the forefront alongside Sheikh Abubakar Guumi, an Islamic Cleric, in support of Negotiating with the Bandits to stop the increasing attacks in Bakura, Maradun, Maru, Tsafe , Shikanfi and other hotbeds , Local Government Areas of the state appeared to have turned his back on the Bandits and ready to deal with them decisively.
The Zamfara governor who believes his Negotiations and Reconciliation policy with the Bandits have failed due to the sabotaging efforts of the some politicians in the state may have realized that the only language that the Bandits understand is the use of Force instead of treating the with the kids glove. This may have informed why he has decided to do tough on the Petroleum products dealers, motorcycle and tricycle riders in the state including Livestock and food items dealers to ensure the Bandits sources of petrol and food supplies are blocked. There have been making the rounds in the state that unregistered motorcycles aid Banditry in the state.
Indeed the governor may have known that if the activities of the motorcyclists and tricyclists in the state could be effectively controlled , it would weaken their operations that may lead to their Collapse. Last March, the BBC Housa , had reported how a man who comes to Kano from Zamfara to buy cartons of motorcycle Honda ACE 125, popular BokoHaram and supply them to the Bandits in Zamfara where they Assemble it in the bush and use them for attack in the state.
Note that the Bandits in the north western states of Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi, mostly use motorcycles as their operational vehicles of kidnapping and attacks on Communities. In reeling out the new measures tackle Banditry in the state, , Zailani Bappa, the governor’s Special Adviser on Public Enlightenment and Media Communications disclosed that he has banned all filling stations in most parts of the state from selling petroleum products except in Gusau, the state Capital and 15 other Local government Arreas. He was said to have also made it clear to the dealers that they must not sell petrol, above N10,00 to a Customer to avoid giving room to the Bandits buying it from third parties to power their motor cycles to carry out attacks, kidnap, Kill and go.
The governor,who appears to have adopted the hardline position of Nasir el-Rufai, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, during Olusegun Obasanjo’s Presidency and now governor of Kaduna state, in dealing with the Bandits, may have known that the Bandits’ followers could disguise themselves to buy Petrol in Jerry cans which are sent their camps that are dotted all over the state that he has also banned he sell of petrol in Jerry cans at filling stations in the state.
This may have informed why he has sent a message to the Petroleum Products dealers to stop selling the products in Jerry cans and also banned roadside purchase of petrol, which the people regarded as blackmarket as obtained in the neighbouring Niger Republic, to the people.
Other measures that was said to have been initiated by Matawalle, who is determined to end all forms of Banditry in Zamfara state included the suspension of the transportation of Livestock and food items both within and outside a state, insisting that such lIVestock and food items must be verified to avoid getting into the hand of the Bandits in their hideouts to feed their followers in the Camps which would still give them the strength to Launch attacks on Communities .
He has made it clear to those that cares to listen that the destination of the livestock and food items being transported must be authenticated to avoid seizure and then, taken to the Orphanage homes in the state. Ibrahim Dosara, the state Commissioner for Information had said that there are over 100 Bandits Camps scattered all over the state with over 32,000 followers who are known to have been wreaking havoc.
The governor may have descended on the motorcycle riders in the state who are used to carrying two Passengers that it may no longer tolerated because the Bandits use to Launch attack on their targeted communities and still escape the eagle eye of the security operatives to their to hideout in the forests to regroup to prepare for another operation in any targeted Community in any Local Government Area of the state.
Aware that there are motorcylists who may want the government policy by carrying two passengers, the governor has made it clear that they sand the risk of being shot by the security operatives who have been deployed all over the nooks and crannies of the state’’ to ensure compliance in its bid to bring sanity to the Communities’’.
The new security measures in the state, according to Bappa, the governor’s Special Adviser on Public Enlightenment and Media Communications also includes the ban on riding motorcycles and tricycles from 6pm to 6.am in the state. Although, he may have extended the motorcycle and tricycle riders time in Gusau, the Capital, to 8pm and 6am to reduce pressure on the Commercial vehicles in the City and its environs because of the heavy human traffic He has made the Tricycle riders who covered their tricycles to escape the eagle eyes of the operatives from seeing clearly passengers, to ascertain whether they are Bandits or not that this no longer be allowed.
The governor’s message to the tricycle riders was very clear that that such tricycles would stopped by security operatives for routine checks to verify its Passengers before being allowed to continue their journey, meaning that any tricycle whose Passengers are suspects may be seized and turned to government property as a deterrence others who might want to flout government’s Legitimate order.
Given the havoc that have been wreaked in the north west states of Zamfara, Kaduna Katsina, and the north central states of Niger , particular, and Plateau, and Plateau state in the recent time, many had expected the retired Army General to declare the Bandits a terrorist Organisation. This is because what the Badits had done in the two regions is worse than what the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram , did in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, before it was declared a terrorist organization and also gave the northern American country of the United States to also label it as Terrorist Organistaion and placed Late Abubakar Shekau, its Leader on their wanted list of terrorists in the world. It is also wose compared to what the Indigenous people of Biafra, IPB, did, before the government dragged it to Court where it was declared a terrorist Organisation.
But Garuba Shehu, a Senior Special Assistant to the Katsina state born Nigerian on Media and Publicity may have reportedly shocked Nigerians with is excuse why the Nigerian President has not designated the Bandits as a terrorist Organisation because of ”a subsisting shoot on sight order against the armed Bandits and other violent groups in the country’’.
He has made Nigerians to believe that ‘’what the Buhari Administration has done to the arms wielding Bandits is worse than being declared as a terrorists Organisation’’. He had said that’’ the entire weaponry of the nation is today targeted at the Bandits and terrorists’’, noting that ‘’there is no shoot at sight order on IPOB’’.
The question on the lips of most people was why the Nigerian President, his security and Intelligence agencies Chiefs are finding it difficult to tell Nigerians who is the Leader of Coordinating the attacks of the Bandits over the last six years.