The recent upsurge in banditry in Zamfara State is alarming and unacceptable. From minor disturbances some years ago, the crisis have assumed a monstrous dimension, so much so that it is being equated with the spiraling insurgency in the North-East states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. There is a general belief that the response of the security agencies to this scourge is not enough.
Indeed, some youths recently held statewide protests over reports that the rights of some citizens were violated and perceived lack of action against the bandits. The paralyzing security situation in the state tends to make some people to read politics in the mindless violence. The killings must be stopped now before more harm is done.
Let the Federal Government send more troops to Zamfara so that they can crush the bandits without further delay. There are fears already that the killings may affect food security in the country if nothing is done urgently to check the heinous criminality. This is why the government must do something urgently to stop the bloodletting in Zamfara and other states in the country.
The orchestrated killings and the protests by youths may have necessitated the unpatriotic calls in some quarters for emergency rule in the state. The carnage in Zamfara State is seriously affecting governance, the economy and human development. Last week, 37 citizens were reportedly killed by the hoodlums. In the last two years, not less than 3,000 people were killed by bandits in Zamfara State, while 682 villages and towns were reportedly sacked.
About 2,706 farms were also destroyed, 13,838 cattle and 11,088 sheep and goats were stolen. The crisis has left 2,000 homes destroyed, 500 cars burnt and over 500 people kidnapped for ransom in the state. Over N1.2 billion was paid as ransom to secure the release of abducted residents. The Zamfara State Government has reportedly spent about N7 billion in the past seven years in the war against the bandits. We condemn the rising violence in Zamfara State and call on the Federal Government to do all within its powers to subdue the bandits.
We acknowledge the Federal Government’s efforts to curb the lawlessness in the state but we urge it to do more to salvage the situation before it deteriorates further. It is good that President Muhammadu Buhari is aware of the scale of the crisis and its consequences. That is why the Federal Government under his watch must stop forthwith the violence in Zamfara before it escalates to other parts of the country. Government must rise to the occasion and give hope to the traumatised people of the state.
Government must come up with a plan of action to rout the bandits. It should also consider other forms of responses beyond what is currently in place to crush the banditry. There is little doubt that the state is sitting on a time bomb and there is a compelling need for the citizens, the civil society groups and other stakeholders to join hands with the government to stop the human carnage in Zamfara State. It is, indeed, regrettable that what started like a minor clash between herders and farmers seven years ago had been taken over by armed bandits, who had executed 40 attacks.
Apart from waging a relentless war against the bandits, the government should also think of addressing issues that fuel the crisis such as poverty, unemployment, corruption and ignorance. There is the need to enlighten the citizens to eschew violence and embrace peace.
The government should endeavour to ensure that those involved in Zamfara State violence are apprehended and diligently prosecuted according to the laws of the land. And those found guilty must be given condign punishment to deter others from toeing the path of criminality.