A 300-page report by the committee set up by Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State to find solutions to banditry and other security challenges in the state has indicted top military officers and traditional rulers for complicity in the spate of violence that has killed over 6, 000 people in the last 10 years. Chaired by former Police Inspector-General, Mohammed Abubakar, the committee report of its investigation covering June 2011 to May 2019, which was submitted on Friday, said the committee had material evidence that five emirs in the state, 33 district heads, and several village heads were complicit in the wave of banditry in which more than 6,319 men and women had been killed.
Abubakar, who made the revelation, did not announce the names of the indicted traditional rulers. He said 10 soldiers, some policemen, and civil servants were discovered to be involved in the banditry, which has lasted for about a decade in the state. The former IGP said the report of the committee would be relevant to other state governments and the federal government in the effort to address security issues in the country. According to the report, a total of 4,983 women were widowed, 25,050 children orphaned, and 190,340 persons displaced by banditry over the period. It said Fulani herdsmen lost 2,015 cattle, 141 sheep and goats, 2,600 donkeys, and camels to rustlers, while 147, 800 vehicles, motorcycles and others were burnt at different times and locations within the period.
Receiving the report, Matawalle said the state government would set up a N50 billion fund to support victims of banditry in the state, especially orphans and widows. He said a foundation would be set up to manage the fund in line with the recommendations of the committee. The governor said, “I commend the foresight of the committee members for recommending to my administration to launch a N50 billion orphans and widows foundation. “I will discuss these important recommendations with President Muhammad Buhari with a view of launching the foundation in the first quarter of 2020.” He said the foundation would have a board of trustees made up of trusted and credible Nigerians with impeccable records of selfless service.
The committee report came as the Army said on Saturday that the blockade of terrorists’ logistics supply routes in the North-east paid off with the capture of 10 Boko Haram commanders in Gwoza LGA of Borno State; while soldiers neutralized 39 armed bandits in two different operations in Zamfara State last week. According to Capt. Oni Orisan, spokesman of Operation Hadarin Daji, a military exercise in the area the operations were carried out in Bakura and Anka axis of the state. He said 19 of the bandits were killed in bush battles with the Army in Anka while 20 were killed in Bakura.
Orisan reiterated that the soldiers would not attack any repentant bandit. But he said the unrepentant ones who carry guns and move around in large numbers would be treated as hostile, advising unrepentant bandits to surrender their arms to the appropriate authorities and embrace the peace initiative of the state government.
The Nigerian Army also said its blockade of insurgents’ logistics supply routes in the North-east had led to the capture of Boko Haram commanders in Borno, including one on its most wanted list, in Gwoza. An update on the war against the insurgency made available by Army Operations Headquarters said the arrested commanders were fleeing sustained pressure from troops when they were captured. The Army statement said: “As Nigerian Army continues to heighten the tempo of her operational activities against bandits, insurgents and other criminal elements nationwide, the gallant troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have stepped up artillery bombardment of identified Boko Haram criminals’ enclaves and hideouts.
The update issued by the Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Colonel Aminu Iliyasu, said 10 insurgents were apprehended while attempting to sneak into Gwoza Communities. It said, “During a successful sting operation conducted by troops of the 26 Task Force Brigade, 10 suspected key Boko Haram members were captured while attempting to sneak into some communities around Bitta in Gwoza LGA of Borno State in a bid to escape the troops’ sustained onslaught against them.
The Army said the arrested terrorist commanders included, “Shettima Mustapha Umar, Abba Buji, Alhaji Bukar Madu- (Kahid – a Boko Haram terrorists’ equivalent of a Brigadier General), Ali Hassan (Boko Haram Terrorist Imam), Alkali Laminu, Bukur Mustapha, Buba Umaru (Alias Black Uhuru) also a Kahid, Madu Nosobe, Mustapha Hussaine and Umar Jeddum all from Bama LGA of Borno State. “It is gratifying to note that one of the arrested suspects, Alhaji Bukar Modu, is Serial No. 89 on the high profile Boko Haram leaders wanted list published by the authorities of the Nigerian Army.”
Following the development, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, thanked patriotic citizens for availing the Nigerian Army with useful information leading to the successes so far recorded. He also congratulated the troops for the arrest of the 10 Boko Haram commanders and admonished them to keep the pressure on the insurgents and their collaborators.