Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja and Mohammed Munirat Nasir, Gusau
Some “highly-placed traditional rulers” have been accused of masterminding and fueling ongoing killings of Nigerians across the North.
Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, who made the disclosure in a statement, yesterday, said fresh intelligence revealed that high-profile traditional leaders were culpable in the violence, which has claimed scores of lives in the region.
Although he did not unveil identities of the traditional leaders suspected to be fueling the violence or whether any of them had been arrested, he vowed that those involved would not be sparred.
“Recently, the government acted on the advice of the Ministry of Defence to suspend all mining activities in Zamfara State and environs following intelligence report that suggested close collaboration between the activities of the bandits and illegal miners.
“However, in spite of the concerted efforts of the armed forces and other security agencies, some unpatriotic persons, including highly placed traditional rulers in the areas, were identified as helping the bandits with intelligence to perpetuate their nefarious actions or to compromise military operations.
“The Ministry of Defence, therefore, wishes to warn any person or group of persons who choose to connive or sympathise with the bandits to perpetuate crime against the law abiding citizens to henceforth retrace their steps or face the full wrath of the law.”
The minister challenged locals, especially in Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara and other parts of the north ravaged by bandits to “rise in unison to support all government’s efforts” aimed at addressing the crisis.
“It is instructive to mention here that insurgency and terrorism are global phenomena that cannot be addressed through military actions only.
“However, in spite of the concerted efforts of the armed forces and other security some unpatriotic persons including highly placed traditional rulers in the areas were identified as helping the bandits with intelligence to perpetuate their nefarious actions or to compromise military operations,” he said.
Ali maintained that the suspension of mining across Zamfara was amongst major decisions the administration believed were key to restoring normalcy to the region.
Meanwhile, acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu has described the ban on mining activities in Zamfara as a final onslaught against the nefarious activities of criminals in the state.
The Federal Government, had on Sunday, ordered immediate ban on artisanal mining in Zamfara, saying it had confirmed the attacks had links to illegal exploration of solid minerals in the area.
Serial and bloody attacks blamed on “bandits” have increased in Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina, with hundreds killed in recent months.
Adamu said at a stakeholders town hall meeting on security held at the Zamfara State Government House, Gusau, yesterday, that the move would end the wave of bandit attacks and kidnapping in Zamfara State as the miners were accessories to the crimes.
According to him, investigations had shown that the miners were aiding and abetting crimes.
“The ban was to cut off the collaboration between the miners and the bandits and kidnappers to end the senseless killings and kidnappings in Zamfara state,” he said.
Adamu reiterated the commitments of the police to work with Civilian JTF to end killings and kidnappings in the state.
Zamfara State governor, Alhaji Abdul’Aziz Yari said the meeting, seventh in the last three years, was meant to find solution to insecurity in the state.
Yari who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government said the problem, which started as a herders-farmers clashes, has snowballed into full fledged criminality.
“Records shows that over 3,526 people killed, 8,219 injured, over 500 villages affected and more than 13,000 hectares of farm lands destroyed across the 14 local government areas of the state,” he said.
Yari said the state government has spent several billions naira to complement activities of security agencies since the problem began. The assistance included donation of 570 brand new operational vehicles to security agencies.
Reacting, Emir of Anka and chairman, Zamfara State Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Attahiru Ahmad, blamed security personnel in the state for not doing enough to end banditry and kidnapping in the state.
He said the solution was not stakeholders meetings but for security agencies to adopt proactive measures.
“The town hall meeting should be the last of the series of security meetings in the state. We are tired of being invited for security meetings. What we want is determination by the security agencies to put an end to the killings and kidnappings,” he said.
Buhari, PDP react
President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the recent violence in Kaduna State, which led to the death of 20 members of the Adara community.
Senior Special Assistant to the president on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, said Buhari described the deaths in the clash between the Adara and Fulani peoples in the state, who have a long history of mistrust between themselves, as unfortunate.
He appealed for peace and decried the on-going culture of ‘an eye for an eye’ that has fuelled a number of attacks and reprisal attacks, with the two communities at different times suffering casualties in Kajuru and Kachia local governments in Kaduna State.
The president also appealed to indigenes of the state and other Nigerians to refrain from comments in the traditional and social media, especially by people who have little knowledge of the history of the longstanding conflict.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also decried the rising spate of killings, kidnapping, banditry and acts of terrorism across the country, particularly in the north.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the opposition party said it was pained by the anguish Nigerians have been subjected to by marauders, as result of the alleged failure of the Buhari administration to provide adequate security in the country.
Itv expressed regret that the Federal Government has failed to protect the lives of Nigerians and curb the bloodlettings and kidnappings in Zamfara, Borno, Yobe, Kogi, Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa, Plateau, Bauchi and other states.
It claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari administration and the All Progressives Congress (APC) lacked solutions to the country’s security challenges.
It challenged the APC “to give account of the whereabouts of the political mercenaries it imported into the country from neighbouring countries, particularly from Chad and Niger Republic during the build-up to the 2019 general elections.
“This demand is predicated on fears in the public space of the possible involvement of the imported political thugs, who assisted the APC to unleash violence on Nigerians during the elections, in the heightened acts of banditry in our nation.”