The Zamfara State Commissioner of Police, Mr Usman Nagogo, has assured of relative peace in the state following the deployment of 780 personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, who he said have arrived the state.
Mr Nagogo said even before the mass deployment of officers, they had deployed personnel to several communities clustered into five areas in at least three local government areas.
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“We sent our operatives to Mutunji, Bindin Kontaragi in Maru LGA and Kwalli and Gemawa in Bukuyyum and Talata Mafara LGAs and I can tell you that the strategy is working very well.
“Each of the communities mentioned will protect several other villages around it. Thus, we have covered a large number of communities and villages. As for those deployed to the state, I won’t disclose anything about them until we receive further directive.
“With the deployment of officers, we stand as deterrence to armed bandits and cattle rustlers as we have blocked their passage routes, thus successfully taming their atrocities. Since the deployment around the areas, there has been no recorded incident attacks in those places. The traditional rulers are calling to testify to this,” Nagogo said.
Residents of Zamfara State had appealed to federal and state authorities to deploy more security operatives to rural communities, saying their vulnerability to deadly raids by armed criminals is very high.
Although they expressed hope that the ongoing fight against armed banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling would succeed with the deployment of more security operatives to the state, they however made case for more security outfits in the rural areas.
In June last year, the state government engaged the armed men for peace dialogue. Since then, the spate of deadly attacks by the armed criminals in the state has drastically reduced.
However, five months after the much-celebrated peace pact, some bandits launched a fresh attack on Karaye community in Gummi Local Government Area. The attack was largely considered retaliatory.
The Karaye attack in November last year was followed by another brutal attack on Babban Rafi community in the same Gummi Local Government Area.
Since January this year, killings and kidnappings for ransom have continued in the state though in lesser frequency and magnitude compared to what was obtainable before the June 2019 peace deal.
From March to date, the state has lost at least 110 lives in 8 major attacks. The month of March had the highest casualties so far with at least 33 lives lost in three major attacks.
For instance, in Kawaye district of Anka Local Government Area, especially in Sabon Birni- Gobirawa – Kawaye – Bagega axis, more than 30 people were killed and about 60 more kidnapped by the bandits in attacks on several villages in the last three months.
A Kawaye resident, Aliyu Aminu, told our correspondent that about 27 villages including Tintija, Duza, Tungar Mata, Natsira, Mallamawa, Tungar Daji and many others have been deserted within the span of four months.
Even though some residents who spoke to Daily Trust said the deployment of troops to the state as ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari did not make any difference to them, a larger number were optimistic that the establishment of Army Super Camp in neighbouring Katsina State would improve the security situations in the state.
The Army Super Camp was established in Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State which shares boundary with Tsafe LGA in Zamfara State. Tsafe and Faskari are among the hotspots for armed banditry in Zamfara and Katsina states respectively.
“The deployment of troops to Faskari will go along way to check the activities of armed criminals in Katsina and Zamfara states.
“The notorious and most wanted armed bandit and cattle rustling kingpin identified as Adamu Aliero is loitering around the borders of Faskari in Katsina and Tsafe in Zamfara. He crosses boundaries to perpetrate crimes,” a resident Ali Yusuf said.
“We heard that 780 more policemen would be deployed. This is a good step, coupled with the fact that Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle has distributed 200 operational vehicles to the security operatives. They should have no excuse again with the deployment of the policemen and the logistic support given to them.
“The decision of the authorities to deploy more security operatives is welcomed and all supports should be given for them to succeed. The army has already launched another operation code named “Ex Sahel”. We pray something positive comes out of it.”
However, locals who spoke to our correspondent said top priority should be accorded rural communities in the deployment of the security operatives.
A resident, Murtala Usman, made a case for rural areas in the deployment of security operatives, adding that farming and herding communities are more prone to deadly raids than bigger towns or cities.
“It is our fervent prayer that rural communities would be favoured. We suffer more. Why are the armed bandits not attacking Gusau, the state capital, or bigger cities like Talata Mafara or Kaura Namoda?
“Most of the local government headquarters are secured. The security operatives with their operational vehicles and working gadgets are stationed there. But, what about villages? I can tell you that in most of the attacks on rural communities, there were no security personnel stationed there to foil the attacks. The vulnerability is too high,” he lamented.
Last week, Governor Matawalle said he had secured the redeployment of 780 various categories of policemen from the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu Abubakar.
The personnel who are expected to arrive the state as soon as possible will include Police Mobile Force (PMF), Counter Terrorists Unit (CTU), Special Forces and various other squads who will join existing security agents in the final march to clear remnants of unrepentant bandits from the state.
This drive is also coming on the heels of the ongoing special army operations currently taking place in the state and being personally led by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, alongside other top-ranking military officers.
According to Matawalle, the most recent police deployment does not however affect the deployment of two Mobile Police Squadrons posted to the state by the IGP about two months ago to frustrate the activities of the insurgents in Maradun and Shinkafi axis.
He said his stick and carrot policy of eradicating banditry via dialogue is still in place for all bandits wishing to lay down their arms, embrace peace and reintegrate into the society to live peacefully and pursue legitimate business that could even attract state and government support.
Governor Matawalle also lauded the unflinching support his administration is receiving from President Muhammadu Buhari in the ongoing fight against banditry in the state.