One of the leadership crises confronting states in the North Western part of the country is the renewed violence by suspected bandits who are alleged to have violated the peace agreement reached between some Governors especially the Governors of Zamfara and Katsina State and the bandits.
In Zamfara State for instance, since 2011, the state has been battling with serious security challenges ranging from cattle rustling, armed banditry and kidnapping which resulted to the death of hundreds of lives including that of women and children with economic losses worth over 10 billion naira according to some sources.
Before the exit of the immediate past Governor Abdulazeez Yari, records showed that, his administration invested a lot in terms of finances and logistics support to the security operatives aimed at ending the lingering security crises with almost little or no result.
Yari for instance in one of the media briefings alleged that his administration had been investing nothing less than 600,000,000 naira monthly as security votes meant to support the police, army and other security agencies operating in the state, an investment the former Governor himself admitted had failed to yield any positive result.
He had also entered into a peace deal with the suspected criminals through his former Deputy Governor but the agreement did not last long due to the alleged failure of the bandits to suspend their gun and murderous actions against innocent civilian communities in the state.
The current Governor, Bello Matawalle took over the mantle of leadership of the state amidst serious security challenges which Governor Matawalle alleged that the former government failed to tackle and vowed to bring his old experience being a former chairman of the national assembly committee on security and intelligence in ending the bandits’ attacks in Zamfara.
At the inception of his administration, he came up with series of initiatives that many stakeholders lauded considering how those initiatives brought back relative peace among the warring factions of the Fulani and local people.
He for instance initiated series of activities aimed at reviving the psychology of the typical Fulani people to feel a sense of belonging, the spirit they claimed they were denied for long. He reached out to them as a person and urged them to surrender their arms unconditionally.
He also entered into the second peace deal with the bandits and mandated the State Commissioner of Police to take charge and follow all modalities. The peace deal has no doubt resulted to many powerful bandits surrendering their arms and embracing the peace.
It also led to the release of many abductees through the help of some repentant bandits who supported the dialogue. Governor Matawalle himself declared during one of the media briefings in July, 2019 that his administration had secured the release of over 300 abductees from their captors as well as re-united them with their familes.
From July 2019 at various occasions, the government paraded over hundreds of released abductees to news men as well as briefed the media regularly on the development regarding armed recovery made by the peace committee.
But while this development is appreciated by all well-meaning citizens of Zamfara State, the story began to change especially with the resurgence of fresh killings by those who the government referred to as ‘’un-repentant bandits’’.
They have been launching spates of attacks on various communities with consequential number of death recored.
For instance, in May this year, they attacked five villages including Kajera and Magazawa in Tsafe where they killed five people. In June they also attacked several communities in Talatar Mafara and Maru where conflicting figures were issued by the community and police regarding those killed in the two days attacks.
Just yesterday, they struck at Tofa community and killed fifteen people while injuring several others as reported by the BBC and other Nigerian local media outfits. This is besides other unreported cases which are not on the domain of the of media people yet.
Since then there had been reported cases of abduction in some areas of the state. Example just three days back 25 persons have been kidnapped by some suspected bandits in Bindin a situation that prompted the State Police Commissioner in collaboration with the military to mobilize a joint security squared to give adequate protection to the people.
In February 2020, the district Head of Gayari and his son were abducted and release after alleged payment of ransom. Again in the month of March 2020 three legislative council members from Gummi were abducted and ransom of 40 million naira was placed. Later on one was released according to the report, one died in captivity and the other one was release on negotiation.
Also in March 2020, the District Head of Wuya in Anka and two others were abducted was kidnapped by some suspected bandits. Before the State Commissioner for Security and Home Affairs announced their release alongside 13 other abductees.
While this development trailed Zamfara state, the neigbouring states of Katsina and Sokoto are also facing same tragedy by the bandits. For instance THISDAY reported that,sometimes in May 2020 gunmen attacked Tsawwa and Dankar villages in Batsari local government area of Katsina state where 30 people were killed. Another report have it that, suspected gunmen attacked Faskari community killed fourteen people and abducted a custom officer.
Within same month of June 2020 gunmen attacked Batsari local government and killed its party chairman and in an interval of twenty four hours they stormed Yantumaki town and killed its District Head. In couple of five days again they killed another traditional ruler in Matazu local government area of the state.
Similarly in same Katsina reports have it that, gunmen attacked communities in Dutsinma killed 74 people and rustled hundreds of cattle
In the neighbouring Sokoto State the story is not different on the 29th of May 2019, 74 people were killed in a one day serial attack on Garki, Danadua, Kuzari and Katuma towns of Sabon Birni area of Sokoto State.
This came barely less than two days after Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal paid a condolence visit to Tangaza community where eighteen people were killed by the suspected gunmen.
This cross the border security challenges has continue to constitute a threat to the people of Zamfara state especially with the recent pronouncement by the Katsina Governor that he has suspended the peace deal and that military should stage forward and save the lives of the people.
There has been spates of peaceful demonstration by the concern citizens of Katsina as they claimed that, Federal government has failed to secure and protect them. The first one started at Yankara and Sheme and later extended to Mairuwa in Funtua local government area of the State. The larger one was done in the metropolitan city of Katsina.
Earlier than that, Sokoto State Governor has met with President Muhammdu Buhari to discuss the lingering security issue bedevilling his state of Sokoto and he was later joined by the Kaduna state Governor Malam Nasiru Ahmad El-rufai who allay his fear that, if these bandits that are being fought by the soldiers in Katsina are pushed off from their present locations they may relocate to Kaduna and constitute a big threat to his people.
Now the most critical security concern to the people of Zamfara state is the effect of the bandit activities in the neighbourhood states of Katsina and Sokoto and how it will impact badly on the people of the state.
For instance when the insecurity reached its pick level in Katsina the President issued a matching order to the army to fight the bandits in Katsina State to the finishing without mentioning the faith of Zamfara state.
Again all the security chiefs led by the National Security Adviser Major General Monguno retired paid a sympathy visit to Katsina and Sokoto without mincing visiting Zamfara State and that alone has fingered a lot of fear that, the security situation in Zamfara is not taken much serious.
Even though some commentators were of the opinion that, there is no way anybody will
take Zamfara insecurity serious hence those that are saddle with the responsibility of managing our security situation always pretends that, all is well.
Another critical issue is the conflict of interest between volunteered vigilante groups in Zamfara and government. Many a times Zamfara state government blamed these organized vigilante people for doing jungle justice to the Fulani group.
In one of the recent interview we have with the state Commissioner for Security and Home Affairs Abubakar Dauran he reiterated the resolve of the government of Zamfara state in banning the activities of the organized vigilante for the simple fact that, their action of jungle justice to the Fulani herdsmen led to the present deteriorating security situation in the state.
Now Zamfara state government has renewed its commitment to adopting its strategy of stick and carrot in fighting the armed bandits. Even on Saturday, Governor’s Special Adviser on Public Enlightenment Media and Communication Malam Zailani Bappa has issued a statement re-affirming the position of the state of fighting those bandits who refused to embrace peace and accepting those who have repented.
This in the opinion of many stakeholders is an indicator that, the second peace deal initiated by the government has partly failed because military are seriously fighting the bandits in the forest and with the pocket of attacks and counter attacks people believed Zamfara state government need to take the path of Katsina by declaring total war with the bandits.
This many stakeholders said is the only option hence the neighbouring states need to adopt a united strategy of either renewing the peace deal again or fighting the bandits squarely.
Again government of Zamfara need to urgently look in-ward to implementing the recommendations of the MD Abubakar led committee since there are other factual revelations that can help in chatting the way forward.
The current steps of renewed joint operation in Zamfara which is championed by the CP Usman Nagogo is actually minimizing the internal conflict among security agencies hence joint operation is now being intensified to fish out the miscreants who refused to accept peace.