Zamfara State, to most people, may have become ‘our damaged’ conscience as a Nation. According to Jamila Abubakar, an analyst, in a published article, Zamfara Our Conscience, the happening there is the “flag of failure to honour the promise by our leaders to provide us security. It is a national warning against a pattern that narrows the influence of the Nigerian state, and widens the specter of living under the order of organized, criminal violence.,.independent report
The forthcoming elections must be about Zamfara and all other parts of the country where hundreds of citizens die, or pay millions to retrieve relations from kidnappers every week, or raise millions to pay-off attacks from marauding bands of criminals because the state does not appear to care or show a willingness to help them.”
Scores of people, including residents, bandits, and security officials – have lost their lives this year as a result of the activities of the criminal elements.
One of the most recent is the attack by suspected bandits, which claimed 17 lives at Magami Village in Maradun Local Government Area of the state.
The Zamfara killings which may result in a state of emergency being declared since some people, including its governor and chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari have thrown their weight behind it as the likely solution may put the ruling APC and PDP on a collision course over the 2019 elections, according to some analysts.
They further argue that the development if approved by the Federal Government will also put INEC under public scrutiny as to whether it will insist on non-fielding of candidates by the ruling APC
Their conclusion is that the killings that have resulted in loss of hundreds of lives may have exposed the lack of governance in the state, as well as inability of the government at the centre to take prompt action.
Specifically, some analysts are surprised why Yari should decide to own up now to the declaration of emergency, which might lead to dismantling of some political structures, a development, they argue, might be a ploy to regain the lost ground of the APC to the action of the Independent National Electoral Commission, stopping the party from fielding candidates at the forthcoming elections.
For instance, Ayodele Fayose, immediate past governor of Ekiti state last week said he was unimpressed with president Muhammadu Buhari’s moves to douse tension following the latest killings. He had alleged that the plot to impose emergency rule was a response to the insistence of INEC, not to allow the APC field candidates for the 2019 general election in Zamfara State.
INEC made the decision following what is said was the ruling party’s failure to hold primaries within the stipulated time frame.
In a statement personally signed by him on Tuesday, Mr Fayose alleged that the Federal Government’s plot was aimed at paving way for a fresh electoral process in the state so that APC can field candidates.
“With the emergency rule, there will only be Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state in February next year while governorship and State House of Assembly elections will be postponed till May,” he said.
He advised the Federal Government to admit its failure and apologise to the people of Zamfara State, who were left at the mercy of armed bandits, noting that “using the killings to achieve political goal is not only wicked but inhuman.”
Mr Fayose said the Federal Government must be reminded that; “under the PDP government of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, emergency rule was declared in three states in the North-east without dismantling democratic institutions”.
The former governor also urged Governor Yari to stand up for his people and democracy so as to save the country from going under.
“I’m aware that the governor is abroad and I advise that he should return home. This is the time for
him to be a man and stand in defence of his people rather than standing with their oppressors.”
A former Assistant Director of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr Dennis Amachree, attributed the major cause of killings in the State to illegal mining of mineral resources.
Amachree,who made the disclosure last week Thursday during his appearance on Channel Television breakfast show, Sunrise Daily said, “Many people don’t know; what we see is fighting, killing, and all the rest,” he said, adding, “But the undermining issue there is the illegal mining – illegal mining of minerals.”
The security expert decried the rate of illegal mining in the state, saying this resulted in the emergence of cartels in the area. He said the disagreements between the cartels were taking a toll on the state, resulting in the death of innocent people.
Speaking further, he said, “I think we have a serious problem in Zamfara and I think it’s basically a lack of governance. There are cartels there and most of the fighting you see there are fights between different cartels.”
“I can tell you, the kind of money that is coming out of the illegal mining is more than what oil is giving us today.”
The former DSS assistant director regretted that despite the security reports forwarded to government authorities in the state by intelligence agencies, the situation was worsening.
According to him, the present issue of illegal mining in the state is escalating and it involves a lot of people, including some foreigners.
The security expert described the situation as “a big market” in which natural resources such as gold and diamond were carted out of the country illegally.
On the way forward, he backed the appointment of a military administrator to stop the killings in Zamfara and restore lasting peace in the state.
“I have personal experiences where minerals are being carted out of this country without any control,” Amachree said.
“If there is a state of emergency where a military administrator will be appointed, I think they could bring things under control because I’m telling you, this situation is really very bad,” he said.
Sunday INDEPENDENT investigations showed that within the last one-week, no fewer than one hundred people were massacred in the state by these notorious gunmen who have proved unstoppable by both the security operatives and the state government.
The state police command however confirmed the death of 17 persons in the attack which took place at Magami Village, Faru District of maradun Local government, According to Yari, while addressing newsmen in Gusau, “I am also in support of the declaration of state of emergency if it will save the lives of people of the state,” warning politicians against politicising the disturbing security situation in the state.
Yari at the briefing said, “We are talking about the lives of our people and this needs the coming together of all, so that the crisis can end. If the provisions of my office had allowed me to carry arms against the bandits, I would have done so.
“But, if I am not around, there are capable hands that collaborate with the security team in the fight against the bandits. The security men are doing their best.
“But, it is sad to know that some of the people involved in the kidnappings are close relatives or associates of the victims, which is part of the reasons the problem is persisting. We must all come together and expose anyone or group that is part of these hoodlums, and we should also pray for Allah’s intervention,” Yari said.
He said that President Buhari was doing his best to end the situation and had deployed more security personnel to the state.
He urged the people of the state to stop blaming government for security challenges. “I am calling on communities to always support security agencies with information on suspicious movements in their respective areas,” he said.
However, most of the residents who spoke with our correspondents blamed the government’s lack of seriousness to addressing the insecurity in the state, as they were merely preoccupied with their reelection bid at all levels.
The insecurity has led to IDPs filled with over 4000 persons who fled their villages in the wake of attack from bandits
Confirming the situation, Public Relation officer, Katsina State Emergency management Agency, Umar Mohammad, said more than 4000 Zamfara citizens were camped in the IDPs camps in the neighbouring state of Katsina.
A Young woman who simply identified herself as Fatima Yusuf said she escaped from her village to take refuge in Gusau, shedding tears while she was narrating how the armed bandits stormed and ravaged the village leaving many people live less in their village.
According to the displaced persons the intention of the gunmen was nothing but to wipe Zamfara state out of the map of Nigeria, pointing out that it was very unfortunate that the dastardly activities were happening during the tenure of Mohammadu Buhari who they claimed they laboured to bring into power by given him their mandate in 2015 without knowing that they were voting for mass killings and destruction of lives and valuable properties in the state.
The incessant killings in Zamfara State have led to a disagreement among politicians on whether or not a state of emergency should be declared in the Northwest state.
Leading the call for state of emergency is a governorship candidate in the state, Saidu Dansadau.
Mr Dansadau, a former senator, said President Buhari should embark on the move to rescue the state from bloodletting.
Last Tuesday, he berated Mr Buhari over the incessant killing of people in the state and his failure to act to stem the bloodletting.
Mr Dansadau made the disclosure in Gusau, capital of the state, while briefing reporters on the activities of his party, National Rescue Movement (NRM), which he also leads as chairman.
According to him, the crisis in Zamfara today is “beyond the knowledge of every individual, and unless something positive is done, no one knows where finally the state will find itself .”
“The redeployment of the troops as far as I am concerned has not yielded any positive result, because instead of reducing (insecurity), it only increases day by day,” he added.
He said the two letters he wrote to Mr Buhari suggesting solutions to the carnage have not been responded to.
“I also attempted to see the National Security Adviser as well as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, also all in vain. This is why I said that the president has ‘less concern’ with the people of Zamfara.
“Mr President should be aware that the state is now being administered by the insurgents. The governor of the state has since made it clear he has ceased to be the chief security officer of the state.”
The candidate said orphans and widows have increased due to the rising killings in the state.
In reaction to the killings in the state, President Buhari has repeatedly vowed to end the violence and apprehend the perpetrators.
Mr Buhari on Monday expressed sorrow over the loss of lives following a recent attack on communities in Zamfara by bandits and cattle rustlers.
He assured that the federal government will do everything to end the horrendous attacks.
In a telephone call he made to Garba Tambari, the Emir of Maradun in Zamfara State, President Buhari said he was extremely saddened by the loss of lives and destruction of property.
He urged the emir to console his people, and citizens in the entire state over “these heart-wrenching tragedies.”
Also, the governorship candidate of the PDP, Hon. Dr.Bello Mohammed popularly known as Bello Matawalle agreed with Senator Saidu Mohammed Dansadau that the state government was behind the dastard activities, saying that he did not put any water in his mouth when he said so, noting that the state government was only pretending to be pitying the citizens while he said the government was solidly behind the notorious killings and inhumanity against humans in the shariat state.
He called on President Buhari to hold Abdulaziz Yari responsible for the killings in the state, saying that it was during his unfortunate regime that killing of innocent citizens and kidnappings have become past time in the state, calling on the federal government to take drastic measures to fish out the people behind the drastic acts and quickly bring them to book to assure Nigerians that the government was on top of the security issue in the state.
But in separate interviews, both the Governor and the Tsafe Local government chairman, Hon Aliyu Abubakar were very optimistic that the terror attacks were politically motivated. The chairman made this remark in Tsafe after the suspected armed bandits set the Local government ablaze while the Governor disclosed this in the chamber of GusauGovernment House
Already, the killings have received wide spread condemnation from well meaning Nigerians, including Dr Bukola Saraki, president of ther Senate, who described the killings as barbaric, unacceptable and called on the security agencies to swiftly devise a strategy to put an end to the ugly situation.
Saraki, said the killings have gone on for too long and the situation has not been given the desired attention as well as the right strategy that will stop it, adding that there was a clear indication of systemic failure.
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