From Ibrahim Sidi Muh’d, Gusau
Governor Bello Mohammed (Matawallen Maradun) has said that dialogue with bandits is still relevant just as he secured the release of 26 Katsina State indegent girls, all of them minors, from bandits without payment of ransom.
The girls who were kidnapped by bandits in Faskari local government area of Katsina state were brought into the bushes of Zamfara state but were miraculously discovered by the state Government and got released through negotiations held under Peace Accord.
Governor Matawalle who received the rescued girls, said his administration will not abandon the peace dialogue with bandits as fire power alone cannot solve the problem of banditry in the state.
He said, “This is a testimony to our vision for engaging the bandits in peace dialogue. For those who believe we are wrong to dialogue with the bandits, the securing of these minors who are all girls, unhurt, is indeed, priceless”.
The 26 rescued girls, whose ages ranges between 8 and 12 were medically checked and provided with new clothes. Governor Matawalle ordered for their safe return to Katsina state, the development which brought the total number of those released by bandits in the last one week to more than 40.
Meanwhile, Matawalle has declared total scratch-off measures against any person or group from within and outside the state found either sponsoring, aiding, abetting or guiding bandits in the state.
The Governor gave the warning recently when he received the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Saddique Baba Abubakar who was on an official visit to the state at the Government House, Gusau.
Matawalle who was visibly angered by the actions of whom he described as Mischief Makers in the state that took the habit of peddling false information, said his administration will no longer treat such blood thirsty individuals with kid glove and warned them to either stop or await terrible consequences of their evil acts.
According to him, the state government in collaboration with security agents have effectively been using kinetic and non-kinetic approach in addressing security issues, but that with realization of increasing criminal intents of those aiding the bandits, the government is left with no other option than to appropriately hit hard at such persons in order to put a complete stop on their activities.
He revealed that with the provision of CH-4 Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAV) by the Federal Government to the state, the state government will employ more and new tactical approach in the fight against the bandits expressing confidence that the new measure will bring lasting solution to the menace of armed banditry in the north western states.
Governor Matawalle said a mechanism has been put in place to monitor the activities of all suspected criminally minded people in the state and will not hesitate to take drastic action against them.
He then commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the establishment of the UAV in the state, noting that the singular gesture will go a long way in facilitating the activities of the security operatives involved in the fight against armed banditry in Zamfara and its neighbouring states.
Earlier, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Saddique Baba Abubakar informed the Governor that, he was in the state to assess facilities at the 207 Quick Response Unit of the Nigeria Air Force, Gusau with a view to commence the deployment of addition air assets as directed by President Buhari.
He said four UAV will very soon be moved to the state in order to closely monitor all activities of bandits as well as to precisely identify their camps and other hideouts.
The air force boss informed the Governor that this was the first time in the history of the Nigerian Air Force to acquire such high technology CH-4 unmanned aerial vehicle.
He explained that a total of eight UAV were deployed to the northern states with two each at Gombe and Borno states while the remaining four which will be stationed in Zamfara will cover states in the north west.
He said the Air Force will soon construct the runway of the UAV in the state for deployment and additional air operational staff.