Zamfara battling with 700,000 IDPs, 3,000 homes destroyed – Gov | Dailytrust

Zamfara battling with 700,000 IDPs, 3,000 homes destroyed – Gov

The Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, said the state had over 700,000 internally displaced persons in different camps…....

Some of the victims rescued from Bandits by the Police in Zamfara State
Some of the victims rescued from Bandits by the Police in Zamfara State

The Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, said the state had over 700,000 internally displaced persons in different camps.

The governor told Daily Trust that the state government had been battling to provide treatment and welfare for the people, who have abandoned their homes to take refuge from rampaging bandits and kidnappers.

On Thursday, the state received 185 kidnapped victims rescued by the police through peace dialogue and other security measures.

It would be recalled that the father of the Speaker of the Zamfara State House of Assembly, Alhaji Mu’azu Magarya, who was kidnapped in August, died while in the custody of bandits, after spending weeks there.

A funeral prayer was conducted for the deceased although his remains had not been retrieved from the criminals.

The victims, who were kidnapped in different parts of the state, were reportedly left with no food by the bandits; hence they resorted to eating grasses to survive.

One of the victims, who gave her name as Iklima Murtala, had claimed that 17 persons died as a result of starvation.

Receiving the victims on behalf of the government, the secretary to the state government, Alhaji Kabiru Balarabe, said, “The state government will continue to put pressure on the bandits until they finally give up.”

The commissioner of police in the state, Ayuba Elkana, had noted that due to pressure and lack of food, bandits were finding it very hard to operate.

“They are finding it extremely difficult now to carry out their activities because we have blocked them,” he said.

Government takes over treatment, rehabilitation

Speaking with Daily Trust, the governor’s spokesman, Zailani Bappa, who confirmed that 185 kidnapped victims had been freed from kidnappers’ den, said the state government had taken over the treatment and rehabilitation of the rescued victims.

He said, “The people rescued were 185. The first thing done in Zamfara State whenever people are rescued from the bandits is that the victims are taken to hospitals to ascertain the conditions of their health. They are examined to see if they have contracted an infection or disease while in captivity. For any of them who have any problem, the government foots the bills until they are fully treated, discharged and certified fit.

“They are also being fed, clothed and properly taken care of throughout their stay. After recovery, they are also subjected to psychiatric evaluation and treatment for the trauma they went through at the hands of the bandits. When they are fully treated and they recover, they are then reunited with their families so that they continue with their normal lives.

“You know that ransoms are not being paid in these cases, the victims were rescued. So, there is no need to be given money, but they will be fully cared for by the state government. The government always does whatever it takes to see that rescued victims have gone back to their normal lives.”

Bappa confirmed that there were “over 700,000” internally displaced persons in many parts of the state.

“That is why, when this administration came in, the governor, in his first year, had to create a humanitarian affairs agency. The ministry is the one saddled with the responsibility of addressing these problems. It is the one feeding them, accommodating them, footing their medical expenses, as well as their rehabilitation.

“We solicit support from the federal government, individuals; but honestly, we are not getting much. But the state government is doing its best and the federal government is also assisting. Dangote also donated 12 trailers of food items to assist the state government. The government is also trying to see that it repairs their burnt and destroyed houses and other things.

“The report before us has shown that no fewer than 3,000 houses were destroyed in various communities across the state. This is what is happening. The little resources the Zamfara State Government is getting are always spent on these. We have a full-fledged ministry addressing these problems of insecurity.”

Speaking to Daily Trust, the acting executive director, Cleen Foundation, Ruth Olofin, said the development was disheartening.

“It is a sad situation, especially for the young ones. For a young person to have been subjected to conditions below human dignity, the level of trust they have for the state has been further compromised.

“While we are concerned about rescuing abducted persons by armed non-state actors, we should also be concerned about the welfare of those still in their custody,” Olofin said.

She advised the state government to ensure immediate and thorough medical examination of the rescued victims and give them psychological support in view of the mental trauma they were subjected to.

She said, “Aside from the parents being the primary caregivers, the government is the ultimate duty bearer here, in view of its responsibility to secure the people and ensure their welfare. So the government needs to do more in terms of securing the lives of school aged children and all of us.

“These security challenges are increasingly defining our strategy of combating them. However, there is the need to adopt a multi-pronged approach to addressing the issues. Beyond kinetic operations, a broad-based school security programme needs to be developed to secure all schools across the country, particularly those around conflict affected states.

“Clearly, the motive behind these attacks and abductions are for profit making. Therefore, if we put in place a strong plan of security, there will be less criminal elements going into this business.”

She also advised the government to employ local security actors who know the terrain, such as the forests where the bandits were camping.

“This layer of localised security support from the community will aid the operations of the security institutions and bring lasting peace to the country,” Olofin added.

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