Killings by bandits have persisted in Zamfara state amid grumbling that Governor Abdul’aziz Yari has stayed away from the state for days.
More than 40 people have been killed in the last two weeks in the renewed attacks by armed bandits and cattle rustlers who had attacked many communities.
There was a mass protest in Tsafe local government area of the state on Monday over increased killings by bandits across the state.
Governor Yari did not return to the state after the protest which led to the killing of many people.
He had handed over the state to the speaker of the State House of Assembly, Sanusi Garba Rikiji before he left the state, boycotting the Deputy Governor Ibrahim Wakkala Mohammed, who is in the state.
Asked why Yari did not hand over to his deputy, the Commissioner of Information, Alhaji Muhammad Danjari Kotorkoshi, said he wouldn’t want to talk on the matter.
“It is between him (the deputy governor) and the governor. So, I won’t comment on it,” he said.
Speaking yesterday during an assessment visit by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Baba Abubakar, Rikiji, who is now the acting governor noted killings have persisted in the state.
Rikiji said people were being killed and kidnapped on a daily basis in the state.
“It is no longer news that people are being killed every day, people are being kidnapped, the law-abiding citizens of the state,” he said.
He, however, thanked the Nigerian troops and other security operatives deployed to the state, for their efforts in containing the onslaught by bandits.
Why Yari snubbed Wakkala
Governor Yari appointed the Speaker Rikiji as the acting governor because he is not in talking terms with his deputy, Wakkala.
Alhaji Yusuf Idris, the director press in the office of the deputy governor, told the Daily Trust yesterday that his principal is in the state.
He said the relationship between the deputy governor and Governor Yari had “cooled off” after the crisis that erupted during the October 7 APC gubernatorial primary elections in the state.
Idris further said the deputy governor was not being invited to attend the state executive council, security meeting or any other state function.
He added that for the past six months, the deputy governor had not been receiving the running cost of his office from the ministry of finance.
Daily Trust reports that MDAs under the supervision of the deputy governor had been taken away.
These included the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Zamfara State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Zamfara State Emergency Relief Management, and Housing and Town Planning.
Wakkala had aligned himself with the Group 8 faction who all contested for the governorship of the state under the APC.
This was against the wish of Governor Yari who had anointed his Commissioner of Finance, Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris.
Contacted on the persistent absence of Governor Yari in his state, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa (APC, Zamfara), described the situation as unfortunate.
He said it was sad that the governor would abandon the people of the state when they were being killed on daily basis by armed bandits.
He said he had met the president more than four times on Zamfara issues and that in all, the president showed his concerns and did all he promised to do.
Airforce unveils new strategy
The Chief of Air Staff said Operation Diran Mikiya’ would engage armed criminals in the state from multiple fronts.
“From here, I’m proceeding to Sokoto where we will establish another quick response unit and I’m going there to look at the facilities for refueling of aircraft so that we can support the operation, not only from Katsina, but also from Sokoto axis,” he said.
The air chief said: “We have a unit in Sokoto, but it is not a flying unit, we are trying to see what we can do to immediately deploy additional personnel and equipment in Sokoto so that they can support the operation from that axis.
He assured the people of the state that the air force was working round the clock to bridge the existing gaps that were making it possible for armed bandits and cattle rustlers to wreak havoc on the rural communities.
“We will redouble our efforts in terms of intelligence because you cannot fight a war without intelligence. Intelligence is critical in our operations. There is no way an aircraft can spot somebody on a motorcycle, it is intelligence. Therefore, the role of the people is very crucial to what we are doing,” he said.
Interior minister gives bandits last warning
Meanwhile, the Federal Government said yesterday it will deploy stringent ways to deal with armed bandits in Zamfara State.
The Minister of Interior, Lt. General Abdulrahman Dambazau (Rtd), who stated this during an on-the-spot assessment in the state, said all stakeholders would meet to fine-tune new measures that would be used in tackling the threat.
The minister, therefore, urged the bandits to immediately surrender and embrace peace.
“We are issuing a final warning, the bandits must stop their atrocities forthwith because the Federal Government has devised more stringent ways to deal with them, and I want to assure them that they cannot stand the consequences,” the minister said. He then expressed President Muhammadu Buhari’s condolences to the people of the state saying the administrations would continue to go to any length to protect the lives and properties of the citizens
Responding, the acting governor lamented that the security situation in the state was getting out of hand and needed all hands to be on deck to tackle.