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Editor’s note: In this article, Deyemi Saka, a public affairs analyst, writes about the uncertainty in Zamfara state.
The state of Zamfara has been in the news for the past six to eight years as a hotbed of banditry in the country. It seems that the uncertainty that plagued the state will remain unsolved as it has resisted all efforts to combat it.
At least it seems so until Governor Bello Matawalle demonstrates the much needed political will and leadership to end this great embarrassment for the state and Nigeria as a whole. Zamfara was a killing field, especially during the eight-year tenure of former governor Abdulaziz Yari.
In those dark days, the only security presence was the escort service of security guards for workers on its ( Yari) farm. Hardly a week went by in which the country was not greeted with reports of numerous killings or abductions in large numbers.
Unlike what was available in Yari’s day, When, as Governor, in the face of the crisis, he directed state affairs from Abuja, Governor Matawall is always there and will only leave the state if necessary.
Even in the face of it an increase in the activities of bandits and terrorists, the National Security Advisor has once again proven that he is overwhelmed with the mandate of his office and his demonstration huge knowledge gap on counter-terrorism, national security and counterinsurgency, as there were no COINS (Counter-Insurgency Strategy), to end the crisis. It’s safe to say that Babagana Monguno was “missing” as the silence from his office is deafening.
A few days ago, governor Matawalle got the ball rolling by announcing some tough measures aimed at curbing the growing activity of bandits in the state. While innocent Zamfarans will bear the brunt of the seemingly extreme measures, it is a monumental sacrifice the Zamfaran people are willing to make to rid their state of banditry, and also a show of support for the governor and the faith in it.
The executive order contains an instruction that all gas stations in the state are prohibited from selling fuel, except in Gusau and the 14 seats of the local government, while no gas station is allowed Selling fuel of more than 10,000 N to a single customer.
In addition, the sale of fuel in canisters is prohibited at all petrol stations, while street sales (popularly known as the black market) are prohibited . It is believed that this move will deal a severe blow to the bandits’ activities as it will present a huge logistical problem to their operations.
The governor also instructed that all weekly markets across the state will be suspended, but normal market activities for buying and selling for local consumption are exempt from the ban. This is a step aimed at reducing the daily needs of the various camps of the bandits.
The government has also ordered that cattle be transported in the and will be suspended from the state from now on as long as the transport of food through the state and out of state must be checked to authenticate the destination, otherwise it will be confiscated and taken to the orphanage.
The remainder of the order consists of a ban on motorcycles and tricycles from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the state with the exception of the state capital, which starts daily from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., tricycles that are covered will be stopped to their passengers to check, otherwise they will be arrested, and the prohibition of more than two people riding a motorcycle and warned that those who violate this specific provision, by security guards in the State will be dealt with decisively.
This step, which many security experts have welcomed as “brilliant” , is being adopted by neighboring states and is a joint effort of all governors spawned in the country’s northwest geopolitical zone. The governors of Sokoto, Kano, Katsina and, more recently, Kaduna State have all taken the same action and have not created a safe zone for bandits within the region.
It is the nation However, having not made use of the CONOPS (operational concept) and COINS (Counter-Insurgency Strategy) of security agents through the coordination of the National Security Advisor, many observers expected that Babagana Monguno would swallow his pride and closeness to the governors of these states, especially the Governor would Matawalle to understand this policy and seek advice on how to integrate it into existing counter-insurgency strategies.
It is confusing that Monguno as the NSA has not provided the federal government with additional instructions to verify the effectiveness of the policies implemented by these governors.
Jed he intelligence officer worth his training and justifying his stay in office We know that the actions taken by these governors without cooperation with the Republic of Niger and Chad could potentially be counterproductive.
The bandits now see Nigeria as a target and source of money through kidnappings and will be more brutal in their attacks and more ruthless in their negotiations and ransom demands. This will provide them with the much needed funds to get their daily needs from the Niger Republic and also provide the logistics for their operations.
Governor Matawalle is the governor Determined to protect his people and he did not stop with these blockades, he asked the Minister for Communication and Digital Economy to ensure a temporary shutdown of the GSM networks.
This is not the first time such an action has been taken. A temporary shutdown of the GSM network in the state of Borno between 2012-2013 enabled the Joint Task Force to achieve great success in the war against Boko Haram. It is not far-fetched that this is the intent of the Zamafara State government. Once communication is broken, there is no coordination of the activities of the bandits.
The measures taken have produced results as bandits are not as brave and brave as they were with their demands . This is also reflected in the few or no attacks since the new government policy came into effect.
Bandits are reportedly begging for food and other essential items, which they are now demanding payment as “ransom” A report says that a resident of Sabo Birni alleged that a child of his neighbor was released after food was given. He further alleged that they (bandits) kidnapped a man’s daughter in his village and when he got the money couldn’t muster up, they asked him to bring 10 quarts of rice to pick up the girl, and they kept their promise, “
Another report from Sokoto said that bandits were doing the had become seriously hungry to ask for food and drink in order to release a hijacked driver.
It was said they initially asked for N15 million before later agreeing to accept N600,000 , and asked his employer to use the money to buy rice sacks, boxes of energy drinks, spaghetti cartons and cigarettes and bring them the remaining change.
It was in too the news of how a few days ago dozens of armed bandits fleeing the ongoing military operation in the states of Zamfara and Katsina hit their Waterloo at the hands of soldiers in the village of Maganda near Allawa in Shiroro, Niger State Government.
The bandits, who fled by the hundreds through the notorious Allawa Forest, stormed into the military camp stationed in Allawa and engaged the soldiers in a heavy gun battle for several hours. After the arms duel, six machine guns and a number of AK 47 rifles and ammunition sacks were seized from the bandits.
The criminal elements are said to be followed by an envoy. Governor Matawall pleaded for a ceasefire and amnesty, which he refused. The governor said there was no need for such an agreement as the bandits had failed him and his government miserably that was given to them previously when they instigated terror against his people, kidnapped, mutilated and killed them despite having made an agreement with them. Matawalle has sworn that he will send them to their graves for divine justice.
It is safe to assume that Matawalle’s defiance made the bandits realize that their game is over and the odds are not you. This is supposed to be responsible for the unconditional release of the students and teachers of the state secondary school Maradun, who have been in captivity for a few weeks.
The obvious thing is that Gov Matawalle is really applying the “carrot and stick” approach, as evidenced in his actions when he took office. He offered negotiations and other reconciliation initiatives that were disregarded by these bandits, and this prompted him to take them head-on to wipe out these criminals.
He has to for his profound initiative and Leadership is commended when those responsible for ensuring public safety and protecting our territorial integrity have shown only an extreme lack of knowledge and ignorance.