Bandits, who have been declared as terrorists, sustain their attacks in the rural areas of Zamfara State forcing residents to flee the communities, MAIHARAJI ALTINE writes
Killings and kidnappings of innocent people as a result of persistent banditry have continued t unabated in all the 14 local government areas of Zamfara State despite military and other security operations.
The state, which enjoyed relative peace during the first year in office of Governor Bello Matawalle, is now facing security challenges more than any other state in the North-West.
It is no longer news to hear the abduction or kidnapping of people in the state. What is news now is to hear that nobody is abducted or killed at least in a week. This is because the people of the state are used to banditry just like in Borno State where the activities of Boko Haram have become familiar.
Although both the state and the federal governments are adopting measures to stop the killings and kidnapping of the innocent people of the state, the situation is becoming out of control and is worsening by the day.
From September 2011 to date, more than 1,000 people have been abducted while hundreds were killed by the bandits who now operate freely in the state at all times due to their large number as well as inadequate number of security personnel to fight them.
For example, On August 23, bandits stormed the Maradun Local Government Area where they abducted 50 people and killed four, while in the same month, they abducted 19 students and teachers of College of Agriculture and Animals Science Bakura and also killed a police inspector.
On September 9, the bandits killed seven police personnel at an ambush at Magami in the Gusau Local Government Area.
On October 6, the bandits killed 18 people and kidnapped 52 in Kuryar Madaro village of the Kaura-namoda Local Government Area of the state.
On November 8, six people were killed in Rijiya village of the Gusau Local Government Area, while scores mostly women and children were kidnapped.
On November 26, the bandits also attacked Yanbuki village of the Zurmi Local Government where they killed seven people, abducted many and set the village on fire.
On December 8, bandits blocked Kaura-namoda-Shunkafi road, killed 6 and abducted scores.
Also on December 27, bandits attacked five communities in the Gusau Local Government Area where they killed 10 people and kidnapped 33.
The District head to Gada in the Bungudu Local government Area, Alhaji Bawan Allah and four other persons were killed on December 29, while several others were abducted.
On December 31, the wife of a lecturer with Federal College of Education Technical Gusau, Dr Abdurrazak and his three daughters were abducted.
The worst bandits attack that ever happened to the state was the recent attack of Anka and Bukkuyum local government areas where several lives were lost.
Although the state government officially announced that 58 people were killed during the attack, many media houses reported that the figure was over 200.
Some foreign media even reported the number of casualties to be above 500.
As a result of the inability of the relevant authorities to provide security for the people of the state, particularly the rural dwellers, hundreds of villages are currently deserted by their inhabitants who relocated to other places for safety.
Some of these villages are as follows: In the Zurmi Local Government Area villages deserted are, Gidan Labbo, Tsakauna, Dogon-hako, Gidan-duwan, Jididi, Askawo, Gidan-oho, Dunnu, Gwamawa, Gidan Labbo-buzu, Marmaro, Takalmawa, Tukurawa, Sangamawa, Tataka, Gidan-galadima,
Gidan-zago,Kada-mutsa, Holuwai, Makosa, Jididi, Geza, Rinni and Dada.
In the Tsafe Local Government Area the deserted villages are Munhaye, Dutsin Kura, Kekawa, Yarzaiga, Sabon Birnin Nakaka, Unguwar Gyauro, Matso-Matso, Magazawa, Kawasari, Bare-bari, Turba-Kucheri, Marne, Maidagalo, Yar-tsakuwar Garkuwa, Kofar Fada, Sansami and Dankutau.
In the Maru Local Government Area, the deserted villages are Madada, Bingi, Dandalla, Babbar Doka, Kabaro, Sangeku, Danmani, Kunjemi, Karauci, Gajeren Kauye, Saulawa, Randa, Kango, Balge, Gobirawan cali, Gidan Ardo, Bulakke and Kilin.
In the Anka LGA, Rafin Danya, Barayar Zaki, Rafin Gero, karfa Bawar Daji, Sunka, Tungar Kudaku, Matseri, Dankalgo, Matsafa, Nassarawa and Kawaye.
In the Maradun LGA, Aljimma, Gwargawo, Kuzi, Ruwan Bado, Magamin Diddi, Garka, Saurar Kade, Damaga, Asarara, Burmi Gidan Adamu, Gidan Maidawa, Gidan Baushi and Wari villages are deserted.
In the Gusau LGA, these villages include Madaro, Kungurmi, Dandindin, Burwaye, Burnai, Fankarfe, Dadin Zama, Bakin Dutsi, Tungar Kudi, Ruwan Mesa, Koli, Buzaye, Tungar Rakumi, Rijiya and Kwarya Tsugunne.
Some of the residents who spoke to The PUNCH, expressed displeasure over the persistent killings and kidnapping of the people and the inability of both the state and the Federal Government to end the menace.
One of the residents in Karfa village of the Anka LGA, Garba Idris said lack of security presence was responsible for what happened in his village where many people were killed.
Idris said, “The bandits were in my village for more than four hours because of non- presence of the security agents.”
“They killed many people and later left to another nearby village where they also spent hours, shooting and killing the people.”
Another resident of Barayar Zaki village, Sani Mamman, said, the people of the village had relocated to Anka town because there were no security personnel to protect them.
“We have relocated to Anka town since the attack of the bandits that burnt down our houses and killed some of us”.
Also speaking, an indigene of Gidan-zago village of the Zurmi Local Government Area, Musa Usman said they had no alternative but to flee from the village due to constant killings and kidnapping by the bandits.
Usman said, “They killed many people in my village, kidnapped many and also constantly imposed levies on us and there are no security personnel in the whole area.
To ensure the return of peace, Zamfara State Government has adopted several measures both through kinetic and non-kinetic approaches.
One of the measures adopted by Governor Bello to end banditry included the closure of weekly markets, shutting down of telecom services and closing down of schools in the state, but the order has since been lifted.
Another measure taken was the restricting of movement in the state from six o’clock in the morning to six o’clock in the evening which was also lifted because the banditry activities did not stop.
Recently, the state government recruited 4500 youths to serve in the civilian Joint Task force known as Civilian JTF who would assist the conventional security personnel in the fight against banditry.
In a recent interview with The PUNCH, the state Commissioner for Security, Deputy Inspector General Mamman Tsafe, (rtd), said the bandits were still launching their attacks in some parts of the state despite deployment of military personnel in the state by the Federal Government.
He said, “The bandits are still attacking some villages although the situation is not as bad as it was before.”
Tsafe said there was still the need for deployment of more military personnel to effectively control the banditry in the state.
He suggested that more efforts should be put in place by the security agents deployed in the state in the fight against banditry.
“Although they are doing their best, there is still the need for them to put more efforts.”
The commissioner expressed disgust that the informants were the major hindrances to the fight against banditry, lamenting that they were the ones assisting the bandits to attack the people.
‘’The fight against banditry is being frustrated by the activities of the informants who are supplying the bandits with information on how and where to attack”.
“I am telling you, without the informants, the fight against banditry will not take longer time”.
He called on the people of the state to cooperate with the government in the fight against banditry irrespective of political differences stressing that, “Without security, nothing can be achieved”.
The state Commissioner of Police, Ayuba Elkana told The PUNCH that his command was always responding to distress calls from members of the public who were in need of police assistance.
Elkana said, “The police command in collaboration with other security agencies are always on the alert and ready to protect the lives and properties of the people of the state.”
“We have foiled several bandits attacks, rescued hundreds of kidnapped victims and also recovered many arms and ammunition from the bandits”.
Elkana appealed to members of the general public to always assist the police in its efforts to fight banditry.
He also called on the people of the state to provide useful information to the police more especially on the informants who connived with bandis.
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