The Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, on Monday explained why bandits and other criminals have intensified their activities in the state.
Matawalle, who addressed State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential villa, Abuja, said the insecurity in Zamfara had persisted because of the activities of “political bandits” in the state.
He said President Buhari had promised to strengthen security in the state from Wednesday.
The governor also dismissed reports that over 200 persons were killed in the recent attacks in Bukuyyum and Anka local government areas of the state.
Matawalle said: “Well, you know when I assume duty as a governor I used so many options to bring this insecurity to a minimal level. First of all, I initiated dialogue and reconciliation between the herders and farmers and during that dialogue, we spent more than nine months without any crisis in Zamfara State. It worked.
“But unfortunately, people use politics, because they have collaborators, of course. So, they went back to those bandits, telling them that the government is not serious about this dialogue, that we did not give them anything.
“So, the bandits decided to go back to their normal businesses. That’s why I backed out from the reconciliation programme. But definitely, it worked for over nine months. But because this is something that I inherited, that has been going on for almost eight years, you don’t expect it to end within just two years of my administration. Because it is supposed to be an ongoing process.
“So, after I realized that some of them had backed out of this dialogue, then I cut off the programme. I then initiated the cutting off communications, and some logistics that used to go to the bandits from August 2011 to December 2011. And it worked too.
“But sometimes those collaborators who are usually happy with what is happening, who even jubilates when people are killed, they went back and started again, saying that the government is not serious and instigating some of the public. In fact, they even dragged me to court.
“So you see with the kind of people who have in Zamfara State, I don’t think this issue of banditry will end very soon because, already, some people are behind it. Some people are using it.
“And all they need is at least to show Nigerians that both the federal and Zamfara state governments are not serious on the issue of insecurity, despite the fact that some of them are involved in the crisis of this insecurity. But we’re doing our best.”
He said, “I briefed Mr. President on what happened and the next action that we should take and the government is doing everything possible to make sure that we bring sanity in state.
“All the action that we have taken, we have recorded successes within just three days. And you will bear me witness after that attack, there has not been any report any banditry activities in the state uptill today.
“On the number of people killed by bandits in Bukuyyum and Anka LGA, I have already cleared the air about the figures because I have seen some reporting that 200 people, 300 people, 500 people were killed. But I went to the community by myself and the security agencies.
“First we went to Bungudu and we confirmed from the Emir that it was only 36 people that have been killed and two communities were razed by these bandits. We later visited Anka and met the Emir. At the time we met him, he gave us a list of 22 people that have been killed, bringing the total to 58.”
“But as I have been saying there are some political bandits who have been spreading lies, rumors so that they can achieve some political gain.”
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