Before North-West is overrun too

The latest killings in Zamfara state have, at last, forced the hand of President Muhammadu Buhari. On Christmas Eve, he, in his capacity as the commander in chief of the armed forces, ordered Chief of Air Staff Air Marshall Abubakar Saddique on an assessment tour of the state and neighbouring Sokoto. The President’s action followed the “killing of innocent citizens “ in Birnin Magaji in Tsafe local government area and Magami community in Faru district in Maradun LGA of Zamfara.

“These horrendous acts of violence are crimes against humanity”, Buhari declared in a statement by his media spokesman Garba Shehu. “This violence must stop.” The President reassured people of the two states and others also affected by “armed banditry” of his government’s “enduring commitment” to their safety. “To this end, a major operation by the Nigerian armed forces, police, Department of State Services and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence corps (NSCDC) is being considered to restore peace and stability to the region.

“President Buhari conveyed his strong support to the Nigeria Police Force which has already deployed special forces in each of the local governments of Zamfara state and Defence Headquarters’ deployment of a special military intervention force comprising 1000 personnel in response to the security challenges in the North-central and North-west. These measures, among others, will be intensified to flush out the bandits wherever they are.”

On arrival in Gusau, the Zamfara capital, on Christmas Day, Air Marshall Saddique Abubakar, assured the state government that a quick response unit of the Air Force would be stationed in Sokoto “to support Operation Diramikiya in the North-west zone.” He praised the government and people of the state for their support for the security forces “in the fight against insurgency”, particularly their intelligence gathering effort.

Buhari’s latest action in Zamfara reinforced his visit to the state earlier in the year. It followed complaints by the government and people of the state’s abandonment by the security forces. Few hours before Air Marshall Abubakar’s arrival in Gusau, persons displaced by the incessant killings held a protest march in Tsafe, alleging government’s “refusal” to come to their aid.

We welcome Buhari’s robust action on Zamfara though it is coming after years of wanton killings. The North-west was inching inexorably in the direction of the North-east where a rogue ragtag was allowed to grow into a formidable fighting force. Thank God, the Boko Haram terror group has been largely decimated, but before it killed hundreds, rendered thousands homeless and destroyed the economy of the North-east. The North-west must not suffer the same fate.

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