* As president condoles victims, assures end to killings
By Ali Alkali
As security challenges in Zamfara State continue to deteriorate, concerned elders and stakeholders have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare State of Emergency in the state, arguing that the massacres of thousands of innocent citizens “indicate that there is a leadership vacuum” in the state “and that whatever security measures put in place have failed woefully.”
In a statement signed by five prominent academicians, yesterday, the elders lamented that the brutality with which massacres and the killing of thousands of innocent citizens, mainly rural folks, are carried out “are unprecedented in recent times in any part of Nigeria.
“This, therefore, calls for drastic measures to arrest the situation and prevent the descent into total anarchy, with dire consequences to Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna states and the neighbouring states of Niger Republic.”
They urged President Buhari to take immediate and drastic action by declaring State of Emergency in Zamfara State.
They warned that “The destruction of the campaign posters of Mr. President shows the extent to which people are aggrieved against the efforts so far put in place to contain the problem. This has the potential of eroding the credibility of Mr. President in one of his strongholds.
“These developments have had a negative impact on the Federal Government’s agricultural policy of Anchor Borrower’s Programme (ABP), and other social intervention programmes.
“The reckless pronouncements and ineptitude of the government of Abdul Aziz Yari has further worsened the security situation in the state.”
After cataloguing series of killings by bandits that defied all security measures taken so far, the elders said, “We recommend as follows:
“Immediate declaration of a State of Emergency in Zamfara State, to enable to Federal Government initiate a series of actions that would address the crisis;
“The dispatching of special forces to the forests and affected villages to rout out the terrorists and kidnappers;
“Government should interact frequently with community leaders and other relevant stakeholders in the search for lasting solution to the crisis;
“The renewed commitment of the leadership of the security agencies as part of a renewed effort to accelerate the war against terrorism, insurgency, mass kidnapping and mass murder.”
To back up their call with the most recent event, the elders recalled that “The outbreak of riots in Tsafe local government on Saturday 22nd December, 2018, which, according to some reports, have led to the deaths of over 100 people in the villages of Asaula, Kwadawa, Dogon Kawo, Mandaba, Yanza, Kulutu, Sakkya and Fegin Dakai, all in Eastern Tsafe, has again brought to the fore the issue of insecurity in Zamfara State.
“On Monday, December 24, thousands of scared citizens in the State came out en masse to protest, demanding that the Nigerian State protects them from killers and bandits who have killed over one hundred people in the past two weeks, burnt their houses and destroyed their farmlands and rustled their cattle.”
The statement was signed by Prof Jibrin Ibrahim, Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja, Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, Centre for Democratic Research and Training, Zaria, Prof Massoud Omar, Centre for Democratic Research and Training, Zaria, Dr. Saluihu Zubairu Mustapha, Department of History, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Mal. Mohammed Abubakar Nasiru, Department of History, Ahmadu Bello university, Zaria.
They hope that “The Zamfara crisis should become a turning point indicating a renewed determination of the Nigerian State and its security agencies move from condemning such wanton killings to checkmating the activities of the attackers.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Interior, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau has conveyed President Muhammadu Buhari’s condolence message to the entire people of Zamfara State, assuring them of formidable measures to tackle armed banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling in the state.
Dambazau, who was in Zamfara State yesterday under presidential directive with a view to expressing Buhari administration’s worry over incessant killings of innocent people and the destruction of property, especially in rural areas, reiterated federal government’s commitment towards ensuring total return of peace in the state.
The Minister said, President Buhari is worried about criminal activities bedevilling the state, saying, “It is our responsibility to provide security of lives and property to all citizens of this country, among whom are Zamfara people. Necessary actions have been taken to ensure the return of legitimate living”.
He further informed the people of the federal government’s readiness in making the entire nation a paradise for citizens and investors, as all required machineries capable of getting rid of insurgence and other related criminal activities have been put in place, checkmating the conducts of security operatives at war front as well.
“Zamfara is one of the food producing states the entire nation is proud of. This is the reason the administration of President Buhari would not allow these criminal activities to cripple our food security, as it would affect the entire country,” Dambazau said.
Responding, the Zamfara State Acting Governor, Right Honorable Sunusi Garba Rikiji, said the issues of armed banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling are fast becoming devastating and getting out of hand, as incessant killings on daily basis were no longer news in the state.
Sunusi Rikiji said, investigations had it that there were infiltration of other forces aiding the activities of armed bandits, the development which was learnt to have worsen the situation.
He, however assured that “the state government is ready to continue assisting in providing all that are needed to compliment the federal government’s efforts in saving the situation.
“I must, on behalf of the state Governor, Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar and good people of Zamfara state, appreciate Mr. President for showing concern by making a personal call to one of our traditional ruler over the killings, and his show of worries through taking measures against armed bandits and their filthy activities in the state,” Rikiji said.