From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has summoned the governor of Zamfara State, Bello Mattawale for a briefing on the security situation in the state.
Mattawale confirmed this to State House Correspondents after a meeting with the president at the presidential villa, Abuja on Wednesday.
According to him, the strategy his administration has employed to check insecurity is working and urged other northern state governments to actively pursue the establishment of RUGA in their states to put an end to inter state movement of cattle.
While noting that herders move in search of pastures, he said his state has provided RUGA with necessary facilities for herders.
According to him, if other states do the same, the crises caused by Fulani movements will become a thing of the past.
Zamfara governor speaking on the purpose of his visit said: “I was called by Mr President and I am here to brief him on some issues pertaining to security in my state.
“We discussed much about them and I briefed him. All the supports needed from him, he assigned all where to get all the supports. I appreciate his effort for making me proud of what he has been doing for the state.
“In terms of security, particularly in Nigeria, everybody knows what is happening today. But in Zamfara, we thank Allah for giving us that achievement because even today, about 358 special police force were deployed to the state to tackle some challenges.
“We are on course and I believe that you have heard about it because before, Zamfara was almost in a flashpoint and bad reportage of kidnappings, killings and so on. But today in Zamfara, we are witnessing little peace in the state. We thank Allah for that.
“Banditry is something I inherited. It was ongoing for almost eight years in the state but due to my initiative of dialoguing with them, now Zamfara is very calm.
“I have been calling my colleagues to sit down all the stakeholders to discuss this and find the causes of the crisis so that they can be able to initiate reconciliation and dialogue with those people so that they can be able to achieve what I achieved in my state.
“What we are experiencing in Zamfara State, most of those people are not even from the state. Two months back, we had some people who repented and submitted their weapons to the state government.
“Among them, there is somebody from Yobe State, two people are from Kaduna, two people from Niger State. It is a gang of some criminals. They normally invite their friends to participate in those activities.
“I don’t think they are from Zamfara State. All I am saying is that we are in discussion with governor of Niger State and he is following the steps we have taken in reaching those people who repented so that they can help the state government to initiate this peace deal with those people in Niger State.
“I believe that very soon, there will be an end to all these crises.
“Not all of them are criminals. If you investigate what is happening, and what made them to take the laws into their hands, some of them, sometimes were cheated by so-called the vigilante group.
“They normally go to their settlements and destroy property and take their animals. They did not have anyone to speak with, so sometime, they go for revenge. When the vigilante group attacks them, they go for reprisals. That’s exactly what happened.
“Some of them are living in settlements close to villages or towns. When there are military operations, the military will go and destroy their property and animals. They are angry with such actions sometimes. If you are talking to them, you can understand where they are coming from and their problems.
“It is important for us as leaders to sit down with them and understand what is the genesis. You can’t just conclude that this person is a criminal. You have to listen to him. What led him to going into such activities?
“It is not all Fulanis that are criminals. Some are good citizens, but due to some circumstances, they subscribed to such criminality but when we had the information, we called their leaders and sat with them, they told us their grudges and we sorted out the way the communities and the Fulanis can resolve their issues without any serious crisis.
“If all governors can be able to do that, I believe Nigeria will be safe.
“In my state, I am constructing RUGA for them, like a settlement that can contain some of them because sincerely speaking, if we allow them going round from one place to another, we cannot find a solution to this issue.
“So the only thing the governors should do and we are discussing that is to contain them in one place. Like a Fulani from Zamfara should not migrate to another neighbouring state. How are we going to do that? This is something that needs a lot of resources because you will have to create something that can engage them
“You have to provide social amenities for them. Like the RUGA that we are doing, we have many amenities like school, hospital, veterinary clinic, market and even mini stadium.
“If we allow them to migrate from one place to another, that is where the problem is. I believe that very soon, the Nigeria Governors Forum will discuss about that so that we can be able to know what action all the governors should take to contain them in one place.”
On if he discussed amnesty for the bandits, Mattawale said: “I did not discuss amnesty for bandits with the President. I briefed him on entirely different thing.”