The police in Zamfara State on Thursday said an opposition politician in the state, Habu Dan-Tabawa, was arrested by officers after he held a meeting with repentant bandits at his residence in Gusau, the state’s capital on Saturday .
Mr Dan-Tabawa, a leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has since been released alongside 17 others taken into custody from the event. He had said the arrest was politically-motivated.
But the police commissioner in the state, Usman Nagogo, at a press conference in Gusau on Thursday, said the police had been informed that certain individuals were meeting repentant bandits to entice them to return to the forest and send the state back into mayhem.
“No responsible security architecture will fold its arms and wait until carnage is meted to the citizens of the state before they act,” the police chief said.
“Thus, the arrest of Alhaji Habu Moh’d Dan-Tabawa and 17 others on that fateful day was based on intelligence-driven and proactive measures taken by the police to curtail any act of banditry and related criminality in the state,” Mr Nagogo said.
The commissioner said miscreants had invaded the state police command headquarters on Sunday, a day after the arrests of the politicians.
He said the invasion was to destroy evidence likely to influence the outcome of police investigation of the arrested persons and to test the resolve of the police.
“At this juncture, let me sound a note of warning that this kind of uncivilized behaviour anywhere in the state will be dealt with squarely according to the law of the land,” he added.
Mr Nagogo said the security agents had secured the release of hundreds of abducted persons and recovered sophisticated and locally made weapons from bandits and a local militia group, Yansakai.
“Since then, the state government requested for more police mobile operatives who are not only used along with military to curtail the activities of unrepentant bandits but are also stationed in strategic places in the state.
“We have combined forces of well-armed 877 personnel stationed at strategic locations across the state as well as 100 Special Forces being used in case of any threat,” the police chief said.
Earlier, Mr Dan-Tabawa had said his arrest and the allegations against him were made to tarnish his reputation.
At a press conference on Tuesday, he said he came in from Kaduna to sympathise with and assist victims of floods in his hometown but that around 9 p.m. the police stormed his residence and arrested him and 16 of his friends.
According to him, among those arrested were serving permanent secretaries in the state civil service and PDP members who usually visited him whenever he was around.
“I didn’t hold meeting with bandits as claimed by the state government and the police. The police didn’t tell me the crime I committed, they stormed my residence and raided the house. Following the incident, I lost a huge amount of money. I will seek redress in the court,” Mr Dan-Tabawa said
The politician said he and his associates had made several complaints to the police commissioner of police brutality on their supporters but nothing has been done to address their complaints.