By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The chairman of a Non Government Organization; Patriots for the Advancement Of Peace and Social Development (PAPS), Sani Abdulahi Shinkafi, yesterday described as irresponsible and malicious, the allegation that Governor Bello Matawalle supplied Hilux vehicles to bandits.
A statement issued yesterday by the PAPS chairman said the report published by an online newspaper, is baseless and politically motivated to incite the people of Zamfara State against the Matawalle led government.
Shinkafi said “the Sahara Reporters is being used by the enemies of Zamfara State to fan the embers of war. The report is aimed at derailing the efforts of the Governor to destabilize and dismantle the bandits, who have held the state hostage for the past eight years of the previous administration in the state.
According to him “a medium such as Sahara Reporters should be doing constructive journalism and not destructive journalism which the nation does not need at this stage when violence is taking place on a daily basis in the country.
On the allegation credited to the former Local Government Chairman, Ahmad Maradun, Shinkanfi accused him of inciting members of the public against Governor Matawalle and his government out of anger and frustration over his sack by the Zamfara State House of Assembly for allegation of misappropriation of the Maradun Local Government funds, Abuse of office, aiding and abetting armed banditry.
Shinkafi noted that Maradun is being a bad loser, who is unable to come to terms with the fact that he has lost his plum position due to his own greed, hence he thinks that the only way he can remain relevant is to attack the Matawalle led government and court cheap popularity.
Recall that recently, the ex chairman of Maradun Local Government had alleged that Governor Matawalle gave the bandits Hilux vehicles, which they used to attack innocent residents. According to him, the hoodlums who killed 10 people in Janbako community used two of the vehicles.
The ex chairman had alleged that: “They went to that village in two of the Hilux vehicles given to them by the Zamfara State Government. One of the vehicles broke down and was abandoned by the bandits. These bandits have been using the vehicles to kidnap, kill and rape innocent people and the press has been silent.”
He stressed that the bandits also killed three soldiers, including a major, adding that the attack was not reported.
However, Shinkafi described the allegations as malicious, wicked and irresponsible, adding that no sensitive government will aid terrorists to attack, kidnap or kill its citizens.
He described Maradun’s allegations as unpatriotic, accusing him of being committed to disrupt the good policies and programmes of the Governor, most especially the ongoing peace and reconciliation process initiated by the Governor early last year.
Therefore, Shinkafi called on the Inspector-General Of Police (IGP) and the Director General of the State Security Services (DSS) to investigate and possibly arrest and prosecute Maradun for public incitement, fake news and inflammatory statement, attempts to breach the fragile peace that had been restored to Zamfara State by the Governor Matawalle led administration in the past eighteen months.
Shinkafi, to this end, gave Sahara Reporters and Maradun a 14 days ultimatum, within which to retract the malicious statement and publicly apologize in five national newspapers of face court action for breach of peace and circulation of fake news, adding that the time is of a fragile peace in the country.
In a related development, the Nigerian Army has refuted the claims that Governor Matawalle has been supplying Hilux Vehicles to aid the bandits.
The Nigeria Army, in a statement refuted the story describing it as absurd.
The statement signed by Brigadier General Musiliu Bello, said the absurd story peddled by the online news medium that the state government has doled out Hilux vehicles to repentant bandits, who are using them in terrorising the state, is reckless and unfounded.
In refuting the story, Brigadier General Musiliu Bello rejected the story as false, saying that Governor Bello Matawalle has only aided the military and other security operatives with 200 Hilux vehicles.
In his words “Never was His Excellency involved in giving vehicles to bandits. I know the vehicles he gave to the military, I know the vehicles he gave to other security agencies, including Operation Hadarin Daji, not to the bandits, Never!”