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MAPPING THE EVENTS OF JANGEBE ABDUCTION

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It started like a dream when people of Zamfara woke up on Friday with the sad news of the abduction of of students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe by suspected armed bandits.

The incident happened when Nigerian government is still battling with another group of bandits that kidnapped another set of students at a school in Kagara, Niger State.

The Jangebe incident also occurred few hours after a bandit leader laid down his arms and surrendered to the peace deal of the state government led by Bello Matawallen Maradun.

Journalists including this medium (Thunder Blowers) were the first to arrive Jangebe town that fateful Friday at around 11:00am with the intent of ascertaining the fact of what transpired in the night.

To our surprise, residents in hundreds carrying sticks and stones laid ambush at our two moving vehicles and started hitting at us left, right and centre.

Having realized the danger that awaited us we had to drive out of the town unceremoniously with one of the  cameramen of this medium, Babangida Kalifa seriously injured with blood gushing from his forehead and requiring immediate medical attention.

One of the stones thrown at us hit his forehead and we had to rush him to a local pharmacy for a first aid treatment.

A resident at Tashar Kuturu who spoke to journalists said many people were surprised when they saw journalists moving in to the town without the security escort knowing fully that some government officials were earlier attacked by the angry residents who were unceremoniously chased out of Jangebe town. 

One Malam Hadi, a resident of Tashar Kuturu who came to sympathise with us said based on what they heard, two State Commissioners who came earlier than us were forced to run for their safety as angry youth attempted to launch mob action against them.

Few kilometres to Jangebe junction our convoy overtook the state Commissioner of Police who was in company of many police hilux Vans armed with guns and initially we thought the man was waiting for the State Governor for them to move together to the main town.

At the junction also, the convoy of Deputy State Commandant of Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps was parked despite the fact that he was in company of armed security personnel.

One Aminu Garba, also a resident of Tashar Kuturu said the security chiefs were afraid of going in to the town due to the fear of mob action by the residents who stood their ground to prevent any government official from entering the town.

What caused the anger of the Jangebe residents? This is a big question which Ibrahim Muhammad a resident of Jangebe said in a telephone interview that, “people are provoked with the attitude of the government and its insincerity in the management of the crises”.

He said people have been pushed to the wall and they have reached a point of no return and have concluded that, the peace deal claimed to be executed between the government and the bandits has failed in its entirety.

This particular point of view can be corroborated with the incident of Wednesday where the State government delegation was also attacked while returning the freed school girls to their families.

A resident, Malam Bala who spoke with this medium on phone said, the government officials were attacked because people are tired of their lies and deceit. “They came to the town in convoy of armed soldiers and started making political commentaries, people challenged them and that led to physical demonstration of their anger, and as a result, two civilian protesters were shot dead with one other sustaining injury.

Official vehicle of the government including that of Commissioner for Education and the one belonging to the state Ministry for Women and Children Affairs were crushed with sticks and stones.

CONFLICT IN THE FIGURE OF ABDUCTED SCHOOL GIRLS

An hour after our attack at Jangebe we were addressed by the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abutu Yaro along Bobo town, a village located few kilometres to Jangebe where he said “a total of 317 female students were abducted based on the figure released by the principal of the school”.

This figure was widely used by local and international media outfits considering the fact that it was released by the police commissioner.

Hours later another figure resurfaced that the number of the abducted students is (279) and that one of the reasons for the change of figure according to a government official who confided on this medium was that, “the principal hurriedly gave out the figure when the head count was still on”

He said the news we are receiving is that some of the students who escaped have returned home without the school authority knowing.

But residents doubt if the reason advanced as regard to change of figure may stand. Majority argued that the inconsistency in the figure called for suspicion since only parents can testify to the fact after the students returned.

According one Bashir Ibrahim, a civil society advocate based in Gusau, “even if the claim that the number of the abducted Students has dropped, it is a clear demonstration of lack of synergy amongst stakeholders.

“You cannot hurriedly give out figure that is not certain especially under this type of circumstances because the sincerity of the government is already in doubt and majority will not believe that government has already sensed a problem concerning the safety of the pupils” Bishir added.

IN BETWEEN THE PERIOD OF NEGOTIATION 

That fateful Friday, Zamfara Governor, Bello Matawalle addressed the people of the State through a statewide broadcast where he assured them of his administration’s commitment to rescuing the school girls. 

He said since the occurrence of the incident, he could not sleep as he was engaged with the actors that were critical to ensuring the recovery of the abducted girls.

At Jangebe also, news reached journalists that the organized vigilante had tracked the movement of the abductors along the forest and were making effort to block their route from continued movement.

A resident, Sani Bawa said the vigilante had matched to the forest and that the effort of the trackers led to the restriction of movement along Wuya-Bindin Sabon Birni forest.

Another information obtained in confidence from a government source said, government officials in collaboration with some repentant bandits had opened negotiation with the abductors.

There were conflicting arguement as to how the abducted  schools girls were freed. While government insisted that, no dime was paid to kidnappers many observers, opinion shapers and members of the general public went in the contrary..

During an interview with the BBC Hausa service for instance, Governor Bello Matawalle insisted that nothing was paid to the bandits before the abductors released the girls and equally said 30 repentant bandits were used in the mediation.

Stakeholders on the other hand argued, if negotiations were made on the release of the abducted school girls, government should have made the conditions for the negotiation known.

Rabiu Ahmad, a civil society advocate based in Gusau for instance argued, “if money is out of the condition for the negotiation then what were the bandits’ demand?

He argued that negotiation must be in exchange of an alternative social services or economic needs and if government continues to close down its terms of the negotiation then people would continue to doubt the sincerity of the fact that money was not exchanged for the release of the children.

He argued that same story was making round the public after the Kankara school students were released only for us to be hearing about the exchange of N800 million naira based on the video footage released by Mahadi the Katsina whistle blower.

Also in an interaction with this medium, one of the journalists that interviewed some of the girls when they were brought to government house said ” a freed female student of Jangebe told him that, one of the abductors informed them while in captivity that, the government offered them the sum of 60 million naira for their release but they turned down the offer on the grounds that the money offered are insufficient.

Another resident of Gusau by name Isah Buhari once told this medium that “when the Kankara Students were released last time, government claimed not paying a dime only for a audio of former Sole Administrator of Jibiya local government area to be leaked where he had a conversation  with the bandit leader that  millions were paid far more than what the government gave them after negotiation”.

Another questions many people continue to raise was the ceremonial nature at which the abductees were released noting that government’s “hide and seek game” pushed for suspicion of its sincerity in the whole drama.

A source who spoke to this medium in confidence asked this question within how many hours government prepared brand new clothes for these children which were of their sizes and shape?.

“Why is it that nobody from Bagegga village, the border where it was rumoured that the bandits would hand over the captives saw when the bandits handed over the abductees or noticed their movement?

He also asked “how sincere was the report by the Punch newspaper that the abducted girls were since released but kept at a hidden house in Anka despite the fact that government denied the report?

These questions plus the suspicion of some journalists that, no one was informed of the movement of these students till when they were brought to the government house will continue to hang on the air, noting that, when the 26 girls from Katsina were brought out of captivity journalists were put on alert from where they were handed over to the point of their reception.

These unanswered questions continue to constitute the fear of many in Zamfara hence people suspect that, there are more unexplained issues that needed to be exposed  regarding this politics of abduction and kidnapping in Zamfara.

Nigeria’s Minister for Aviation, Hadi Sirika who led the federal government delegation to Zamfara said, the abduction of school girls in Zamfara would be the last in the history of Nigeria where another school pupil would be abducted.

But according an activist, Anas Muhammad the comment of the minister  was disproved since the same day the minister made the statement, some bandits invaded another school in  Kagara for the second time and took away some students.

He said just on Wednesday, three more students were abducted at his home state Katsina as reported by BBC Hausa service and this showed that governments at all levels in Nigeria are about to fail in their commitment to managing these armed bandit activities.

THE POIITICAL INTER PLAY 

One of the problems associated with the management of this social conflict in Zamfara is the inter-play of politics amongst political stakeholders.

For instance the Governor during a broadcast promised to name those he accused as responsible for the recent abduction of Jangebe school girls which he said “the whole nation would be shocked on the information.

Many stakeholders insisted that it was wrong for the Governor to make such statements considering the volatile nature of the state and the need to keep politics out of it.

A chieftain of All Progressive Grand Alliance Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi also accused some APC supporters of attempting to offer the sum of 57 million naira for bandits not to release the abducted Jangebe school girls.

He also accused an APC stakeholder of conniving with some powerful politicians in Abuja to compelling the IGP to enforce state of emergency and takes over the government from the PDP.

He went to an extent of challenging politicians to subject their personal telephones to the security agencies for security checks even as he insisted that, he was sure alot of revelations would come out of the conversation.

As for those in the APC they challenged the Governor to mention the names of those behind the abduction in Jangebe if he was not dreaming as they accused him of having failed to understand the security situation at hand.

The Chairman of APC caretaker committee Lawal M. Liman Kaura during a Channels tv show Sunrise Daily challenged Wamban Shinkafi the APGA chieftain to mention the names of those behind the offer of the alleged 57 million naira or face legal action.

Kaura said nobody would be surprised at the political attitude of Wamban Shinkafi knowing fully he used to make remarks and raised baseless allegations against political opponents for his selfish political motive.

Not only that, Arewa Consultative Forum challenged the Governor to make the names open if he meant well for the country.

An activist Ibrahim Bala said, it was too wrong for the Governor to be talking politics at this critical time when Zamfara needed synergy of all stakeholders regardless of political affiliation order to end the conflict. 

He cited example with Maiduguri that, neither Governor Zulum nor members of PDP are playing politics with the security situation at hand in Borno State since everybody is working toward ending the multi year social and economic conflict.

The meeting of National Security Council on Tuesday had also brought another dimension to the political interpretation  of the conflict in Zamfara State.

The council resolved that the ban on mining activities should be enforced and declared “Zamfara state as no fly zone”.

Governor Matawalle while responding to the decision of the council accused the national security adviser of misinforming the President on the peculiarity of the Zamfara crises even as he initially rejected the resolution.

He noted that, he has no issue with declaring Zamfara as no fly zone if the federal government can do the needful by flushing the bandits and securing Zamfara.

He also accused politicians of instigating the idea of Zamfara granting amnesty to bandits saying Zamfara has never granted amnesty to any repentant bandit instead government facilitated their enrollment into western and islamic school system. This was his response at Channels TV show.

Corraborating the arguement, Zamfara State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Nura Ibrahim Zarumi said “No fly zone” was enforced in Zamfara simply be cause the state is control by the PDP.

He said there was mass abduction of students at Chibok in Borno, Dapchi in Yobe, Kankara in Katsina and Kagara in Niger State and because they were all APC control state no one enforces “No fly zone” in this states but because Zamfara is PDP control state they can enforce this decision on us”.

On the issue of mining Zarumi said there is mining activities going on in Niger State and Katsina but yet the National Council on Security cannot enforce such a harsh decision on these states, only in Zamfara state.

RESVISITING CURFEW ENFORCEMENT IN ZAMFARA

Zamfara State government through its former Commissioner for Information, Sulaiman Tunau Anka announced the enforcement of dusk-to-dawn curfew following attack on the state government officials 

Tunau asked police commissioner to ensure total compliance with the government directive as all markets and other business activities were banned.

But a resident, Malama Shiitu said, that declaration is a “mere dream” hence people have gone about their normal businesses.

“We are all out undergoing our normal businesses and believe me, no one can lock us at home for his failure to do the right thing we are citizens of Zamfara and we deserve government attention including our security and safety and government needs to ensure that if it want us to be law abiding”.

A security expert at Nasarawa State University, Keffi who was interviewed said, government should have a rethink because enforcing curfew on people of Jangebe may not be the best option and that particular decision may further ignite tension in the area.

According to him, the best option  is for the government and its agents to tactically avoid that town  for now because people are still angered and passing through the traumatic situation.

ZMHA AND  VOTE OF  NO CONFIDENCE ON NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, MONGUNO

At their proceeding on Wednesday, members of the State House of Assembly unanimously resolved and passed a vote of no confidence on the national security adviser, Retired General Babagama Monguno over the enforcement of ban on mining activities and declaration of “no fly zone” on Zamfara.

In a motion of urgent public importance moved by the House leader Hon. Farouk Dosara faulted security agencies for the poor response which led to the abduction of Jangebe school girls.

The house also called for immediate restructuring of Nigeria’s security architecture by the President as well as investigate the security agencies for their misdeeds in Zamfara scenario.

But a former member of the federal house of representatives,  Abdulamalik Zubairu Zannan Bungudu said the decision of the state house of assembly is the highest demonstration of “illiteracy ” because they have demonstrated to the whole Nigerians that, they don’t know their limitations as members of the state assembly.

He further said, if the whole national security council with security chiefs and president in attendance and with their intelligence at hand  can take such a decision can be ridiculed by the state assembly members then Zamfara is in trouble.

He said as patriotic citizens of Zamfara, they are fully in support of the decisions of the federal government if that can help restore peace in the state.

RELEASE OF THE ABDUCTED GIRLS, WHAT HAS CHANGED?

Many wondered why things failed to change despite commitments by government agencies and other stakeholders since the occurrence of Jangebe Jangebe abduction.

For instance on Wednesday, there was a reported case of invasion of Tofa village in Maru local government area of Zamfara State where over 60 people were abducted  and half of the village was razed by fire.

Again there have been reported cases of bandits taking over Mayanchi highway for close to an hour a very day Governor Kayode Fayemi Chairman of Nigerias Governors Forum and Atiku Bagudo visited Zamfara State  as residents told this medium that, gunshots were exchanged between security men and bandits. 

Again, there were reported cases of bandits blocking Gurbin Bore high way along Zamfara state border with Katsina state as widely posted on facebook pages asking people to stay away from Gurbin Bore Jibiya highway.

The matter now lies between the state government abandoning its peace deal and allowing federal government and indeed security agencies crush the bandits and restore peace to demonstrate its miracle by ending the bandits activities once and for all.

ARREST OF ARMY OFFICER WHO SUPPLY GUNS AND AMMUNITIONS TO BANDITS.

A week after the release of Jangebe abducted girls Deputy Chief of Staff to Zamfara state Governor Dr. Bashir Maru addressed a press conference where he announced the arrest of a soldier who used his girl friend to be supplying weapons and military uniforms to the bandits in the forest.

He alleged that, the officer has been handed over to the army and with high expectations that appropriate punishment will handed down on him to serve as lesson to others.

He also denied the report released by many mediums that over 60 people have been abducted at Ruwan Tofa village  a day after the Jangebe abducted girls were freed from captivity.

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AHEAD OF THE APC PRIMARIES, ZAMFARA FMR. FED. LAWMAKER MEETS PARTY DELEGATES.

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The former lawmaker who represented Maru and Bungudu Federal constituency Abdulmalik Zubairu Zannan Bungudu has met with party stakeholders from his constituency in his bid to woe their support ahead of the forthcoming APC primaries.

Zannan Bungudu is re-contesting for the same post of member representing Maru/Bungudu at the federal house of reps under the umbrella of All Progressive Congress.

His bid to contest the post followed the recent reconciliation effort between the serving Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle and the former Governor Abdulazeez Yari Abubakar.

The meeting which took place at the conference hall of City King Hotel Gusau on Wednesday was attended by the APC Chairmen for Maru and Bungud and all the delegates from the two local government areas.

During the interface, vital issues regarding the progress of the APC, Bello Matawalle and all the party aspirants were discussed.

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APC COMMITTEE SCREENS (28) LAWMAKERS IN ZAMFARA

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The APC screening committee sent to Zamfara State has screened (28) aspirants who are going to contest for the posts of members of Zamfara State House of Assembly.

The seven-man committee led by Hon. Babangida Tijjani Banki from Borno State assured that justice would be done to all the aspirants screened.

With the screening of the 28 aspirants, four constituencies may likely go into the primary election if consensus has not been reached between the candidates.

The state House of Assembly has the vacancy of only (24) members representing the (14) local government councils.

The remaining members of the committee include Hon Wakili Aliyu, Hon Abubakar Yarima, Faruk Ibrahim Tsiga, Hon Abdullahi Musa, Hon Adamu Ibrahim and Hajiya Fadima Ibrahim who is to serve as committee Secretary.

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GOV. BELLO MATAWALLE NAMES NEW EMIRS

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Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle has approved the appointment of Alh Muh’d Bello Suleiman as the new Sarkin Zamfaran Zurmi (Emir of Zurmi).

He has also appointed Alh Aliyu Garba Marafa as the new Emir of Birnin Yan doto while Alh Muhd Aliyu was appointed as the new Sarkin Bazai.

The two emirs of Bazai and Birnin Yandoto were appointed following the signing into law the amended Zamfara Emirate Council Act 2022 which led to the creation of the two additional emirate councils of Yandoto and Bazai.

As for the new Emir of Zurmi he was appointed following the dethronement of the former Emir Atiku Abubakar by the current administration of Bello Matawalle

According to the statement signed by the Secretary to the state government Kabiru Balarabe, the Governor also approved the appointment of Alh Habib Lawal Habib khalifa as the new Bunun Tsafe the Senior District Head of Tsafe.

Both appointments take immediate effect.

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