Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State has ordered the immediate suspension of unspecified number of district and village heads in Maradun emirate where some Fulanis were killed in cold blood on Thursday.
The governor issued the order during an ongoing inter sectoral security meeting with traditional rulers, security agents, religious leaders and journalists at the Government House, Gusau, on Thursday.
“It is sad to note that during this meeting, we have received two different security breach reports from two different areas.
“The emir of Maradun is hereby directed to leave this meeting, suspend the traditional rulers in which these acts took place and initiate ways to identify and bring the perpetrators of the act to the authorities within the next three days or face the consequence himself,” the governor declared.
He warned that, henceforth, any traditional ruler in whose area the outlawed ‘Yan sa kai (volunteer security members) attacked anyone whether voluntarily or by taking the law into their hands, the Special Adviser should immediately suspend the affected traditional ruler before setting up investigation.
“I am in receipt of report that I bought Hilux vans to repentant bandits which I never did.
“Brig. Gen. Bello, have I ever given any vehicle to even repentant bandits in the state as reported recently by Sahara Reporters?,” the governor asked the 1 Brigade Commander of the Nigerian Army, Gusau.
The army officer, however, informed the gathering that soldiers in the state, including himself, were surprised when they saw the report and that the governor had never done anything like that apart from the 200 operational vehicles given to security agencies by the state government last year.
The governor summoned the stakeholders’ emergency meeting immediately on his return from an official engagement outside the state, following recent spate of banditry and mischievous speculations.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered for an immediate response to rising cases of bandit attacks on communities in Zamfara State.
Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, said the president gave the directive to the National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, on Thursday in Abuja.
Buhari ordered that there must be a clear pathway to ending the resurgent banditry that has continued to cost lives and the displacement of thousands of families from their towns and villages.
The presidential aide recalled that the Speaker of Zamfara State House of Assembly, Nasir Magarya, wrote a letter in which he appealed to President Buhari to intervene and stop the incessant killings by bandits in the state.
Shehu announced that the Office of the National Security Adviser to the President would soon summon a meeting that would deliberate on security and the issue of illegal mining which is fueling the crisis in Zamfara.
”In addition to NSA the convener, the meeting will be attended by retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, Ra’uf Aregbesola and Architect Olamilekan Adegbite, Ministers of Defence, Interior, and Mines and Steel respectively.
”Also to attend the meeting are the Directors-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).”
Shehu noted that beyond the problems of bandits and cattle rustlers, the scale of lawlessness had been aggravated by illegal miners who were harvesting resources they had no legal rights to exploit.
According to him, official statistics suggest that there are more than 20,000 such miners undermining this important part of the economy, operating in a manner that is extraordinarily harmful and destructive, saying the result is chaos.
”This meeting is expected to address these and associated issues of corruption, government oversight and lawlessness, ” he added.