Zamfara banditry: 2 ex-Govs indicted, another for trial – Report

15 Emirs to be removed

A chilling report of the high-wire banditry raging in Zamfara State has revealed that 6,319 persons were arbitrarily and willfully killed; 3,672 kidnapped; N2, 805,049,748 paid as ransom; 6,483 widows and 25,050 orphans left behind by slain victims; 215,241 cows, 141,404 sheep, 20,600 of other animals (such as camels and donkeys) rustled; and 3,587 houses, 1,487 motor vehicles and motorcycles burnt.

Another segment of the report further stated that the bandits operated 105 camps, from which they launched deadly attacks on Zamfara, kill and steal the people’s properties at will.

The report further revealed that the high-wire banditry raging in Zamfara State has now spilled into several States across the country, and consequently putting national security in jeopardy.

Other segments of the report include the indictment of several members of the traditional institution, top government officials and security forces.

As of the time the report was obtained last week, some of the men who engaged in the blood-letting and banditry in Zamfara had moved further North-West and North-Central, wreaking unprecedented havoc in Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna and Niger States.

No White Paper on the far-reaching recommendations of the committee that wrote the report has been issued two years after the report was submitted to the Zamfara State government.

However, a source close to the Government House in Gusau, the State capital, said a panel was raised to review the recommendations and report back to the government.

The committee, tagged: ‘Zamfara Committee for Finding Solution to Armed Banditry in the State‘, had been raised by Matawalle on his assumption of office in May 2019 to investigate the banditry that had blown into a full-scale war between indigenous Hausa farmers and Fulani herders in the State.

When the committee was submitting its report in October 2019, Matawalle had promised to implement the recommendations, assuring that he would not be diverted by any sentiment.

The report found several causes as responsible for the Zamfara banditry.

The remote causes include institutional failure and blatant betrayal of trust by unscrupulous political leaders, traditional rulers, security officers and judicial officers; poverty, unemployment, indolence and frustration that led many youths to drug abuse and involvement in crime; influx into and settlement of illegal alien Fulani from neighboring countries in Zamfara who initially behaved and related with both indigenous Fulani and Hausa harmoniously and peacefully but later exhibited their true criminal tendencies by starting small scale armed robbery, followed by the rustling of non-Fulani and indigenous Fulani cattle.

It added that when herds of the locals were grossly depleted, they had no option but to join the gang of criminals to make a living and a means of replenishing their lost herds of cattle; proliferation of traditional rulers at all levels by successive governors with no regard to rules and regulations/due process; proliferation and widespread consumption of dangerous drugs; and high-level corruption on the part of bad eggs in the security, judicial and law enforcement services.

The report is also unsparing of some former governors over the roles they allegedly played during their tenures, which escalated banditry in the State.

The committee established that whereas some traditional rulers were complicit in the escalation of banditry in Zamfara, many were negligent in their responsibility of ensuring security in their respective domains. It added that if the recommendations of the committee were to be implemented to the letter, no less than 15 of the 17 emirs in the State would be deposed.

The story of the alleged collaboration of the Emir of Maru and a District Head with bandits was told by the Zamfara SSG, Alh. Bala Bello Maru, in his testimony before the committee.

A member of the committee, quoted by the report, narrated that about 19 years ago, a former District Head of Dansadau, Alh. Shafiu Salihu, ignited the problem after he authorised a self-defense outfit called ‘Yan Sakai’ to kill any thief even if it was a goat he stole.

The report found most of the 17 emirs in Zamfara and several of their District Heads either neck-deep in banditry activities or negligent in their responsibility of securing their people while others were interdicted for absenteeism.

In fact, one of them was accused of being away while 840 of his subjects were killed; two others to answer murder charge. Only two of the monarchs got a clean bill, according to the report.

The governor was said to be in the entourage of President Muhammadu Buhari who was visiting the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly last week, and his spokespersons could not be reached to speak on the status of the report.

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