Zamfara State, one of the seven states in the northwestern part of Nigeria has been ravaged by bandits and kidnappers for over two years now.
The bandits engage in indiscriminate killing of villagers, razing down of markets and destruction of homes and other valuableproperties in the state.
Zamfara, which has a population of over three million inhabitants, has abundant untapped deposits of mineral resources spread across the state.
The state is rich in gold. Unfortunately, mining gold in the stateis unstructured, largely informal and illegal, because of the failure of the government to set up a formal structure that will help to harness this natural gift of God for the economic benefits of the people .
The ineffectiveness, inefficiency and incompetency of the government both at the state and the federal level, has today indirectly given the management of the industry to criminal elements who have become law enforcers and snuff life out ofpersons they consider as dissidents.
Although, it is difficult to give estimate of the number of people who have been sent to their early graves, between 2018 and now, thousands of lives have been lost due to this dastardly act being perpetrated by these enemies of Nigeria.
The bandits raid villages, tear down doors, drag the heads of homes from houses and hurl them into forests. In the forests, they establish contact with the families and demand a ransom. Once this ransom doesn’t arrive on time, they proceed to killing their victims.
They also rustle livestock across villages and communities in the state. Hundreds of cows, goats and birds have been forcefully taken from homes by these rampaging bandits.
The spate of killings in the state has sent fear down the marrows of the villagers and has prevented farmers from going about their businesses; which consequently, is affecting food production in the state.
What is going in Zamfara, shows how insensitive and reactive our leaders are in managing security situation. In the height of these security challenges in the state, the governor of the state, Abdulaziz Yari, instead of swinging into action towards finding a lasting solution to the killings in the state as the Chief Security Officer of the state, resigned from his position in June 2018, leaving the people in jungle and at the mercy of the bandits.
He resigned as the Chief Security Officer of the state, but still collects Security Vote that governors collect every month from the Federal Government.
As if that was not enough, the state government recently said it will recruit 1,700 local charmers in addition to the 8,500 members of Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) recruited earlier to address security challenges in the state.
The state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy, Alhaji Bello Dankande, said this in Gusau at a security meeting with traditional rulers, Fulani leaders and local government council chairmen in the state. This is not only ludicrous, but shameful that in twenty first century- a knowledge explosive age, some leaders still think of adopting Stone Age strategy in proffering solutions to problems in this era.
The Federal Government on the other hand, did not give escalating security response to the reign of terror going on in the state, until after some indigenes of the state who reside in Abuja stormed the presidential villa to register how displeased they are with the Federal Government over the killings.
Nonetheless, it is a good thing that the government has suspended mining in the state in the face of intelligence reports that have clearly established a strong and glaring nexus between the activities of armed bandits and illicit miners as the cause ofthe insecurity in the state.
Now that the Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with the Nigerian Military and other Security Services has commenced “Operation PUFF- ADDER” which is a full scale security offensive against the bandits, we encourage them to be ruthless, but at the same time follow the rule of engagement.
The Federal Government and the Zamfara State Government must ensue that the operation which is aimed at reclaiming every public space under the control of the bandits, arrest and bring to book all perpetrators of violence in the area and their collaborators, achieve a total destruction of all criminal camps and hideouts, mop up all illicit weapons fueling the violence and attain a full restoration of law and order in the affected communities, is pursued to a logical conclusion.