LOCAL government officials in Zamfara State have confirmed that they regularly make cash payments to bandits as part of a programme to get them to stop killing innocent civilians because the security agencies cannot cope with the menace.
Of late, Zamfara State has been the scene of some of the worst violence in Nigeria as well armed hoodlums regularly attack rural villages, killing hundreds. Security agencies appear hapless in the face of the crisis, with no solution in sight, prompting the government to ask the Miyetti Allah cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Macban) to see if its members can help combat the bandits.
Yesterday, Alhaji Sani Galadima, the vice chairman of Shinkafi Local Government Area of Zamfara State, said bandits killed six members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) in the area last week. Speaking while receiving interior minister Lt General Abdurrahman Dambazau, Alhaji confirmed that the council pays the hoodlums ransoms daily.
General Dambazau, who was in the state to assess the security threat being posed by banditry and listen to the challenges facing the people, also visited the Emir of Bungudu, Alhaji Hassan Attahiru, in his palace. At the meeting, stakeholders lamented their travails in the hands of bandits operating in the state.
Alhaji Galadima said: “Six members of the Civilian JTF were attacked and killed on Sunday by the bandits after receiving their pay from Shinkafi town and were on their way back to their villages. Even yesterday, these bandits sent a letter to the district head of Shinkafi town saying that they were coming to attack.
“This ugly situation is very disheartening, as every day we pay millions of naira in ransom to these bandits, so we really need government’s urgent support to end this problem. Our women also suffer a lot because the bandits attack communities and abduct ladies from their parents’ homes.
“We want the government to resolve the issue of shortage of troops and police as we only have 19 soldiers in this town. We all know the camps where these bandits stay, even the security men are aware of these camps but our major concern is that security personnel are not getting to these bandits, so we are hoping that with this visit, this problem will come to an end.”
According to Alhaji Galadima, at least 98 communities in Shinkafi Local Government Area have been deserted due to the activities of bandits in the state. he added not nobody sleeps with both eyes closed in the local government area any more.
General Dambazau added: “President Buhari asked me to visit Shinkafi and Anka emirates in Zamfara to carry out the assessment and discuss these issues. The president also expresses his condolence over loss of lives and destruction of properties as a result of insecurity.
“It is the responsibility of government to ensure lives and properties are secure, which is why we must do everything possible to ensure the end of this situation. We commenced this process by meeting with the leaders of Miyetti Allah and we are going to consult with traditional rulers and governors of the most affected states.”