TWO former Zamfara State governors and several traditional rulers have been indicted for collusion and complicity in the crime wave currently sweeping across the state as a report has found them culpable through their actions and inactions.
According to the recently-released report, armed bandits currently operate 105 camps across Zamfara State, from which they launch deadly attacks, killing and stealing people’s properties at will. A government investigation was published in 2019 which led to the suspension of the emirs of Maru, Dansadau and Zurmi, for allegedly colluding with bandits to kidnap, collect ransom and even kill their people.
That report was submitted in October 2019 but its recommendations have largely not been implemented. Had it been implemented, at least one former governor should be facing trial for alleged murder while several emirs, not just three who have been suspended, would have been deposed, while at least 10 army officers would also have faced court martial.
One source close to the Government House, Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, said a panel was raised to review the recommendations and report back to government. This committee, tagged the Zamfara Committee for Finding Solution to Armed Banditry in the State, was raised by Governor Bello Matawalle on his assumption of office in May 2019 to investigate banditry that has become a full scale war between indigenous Hausa farmers and Fulani herders.
Specifically, the terms of reference included investigation of wilful killings, kidnappings, destruction of properties and other related matters in Zamfara and to make recommendations to the state government on the appropriate actions to take. It also looked at the widespread killings, maiming, kidnappings, rape, cattle rustlings, destruction of crops/grains and displacement in the state.
Covering the period between June 1, 2011 and May 29, 2019, the investigation committee submitted its report in October 2019. Governor Matawalle had promised to implement the recommendations, assuring that he would not be diverted by any sentiment.
According to the report, the Emir of Birnin Gwari was high handed and further fuelled friction and disharmony when he directed his subjects and other vigilante groups or Yan Sakai to kill anybody that was found to have stolen anything. Also, one Alhaji Ishe, a Fulani man who championed the cause of Fulani, made the Fulani in Dansadau Emirate to rally behind him.
Remote causes of the conflict include institutional failure, blatant betrayal of trust by unscrupulous political leaders, traditional rulers, security officers and judicial officers, poverty, unemployment, indolence and frustration, influx into and the settlement of alien Fulani from neighbouring countries in Zamfara State. These foreign Fulani exhibited their true criminal tendencies by starting small scale armed robbery, followed by rustling of non-Fulani and indigenous Fulani cattle.
According to the report, during the four year tenure of former Governor Aliyu Shinkafi, fraudulent civil servants enjoyed a field day. It added that the governor bowed to the pressure, thus the indiscriminate allocation of farmlands with no regard to Fulani interest began.
In the case of former Governor Abdulaziz Yari, the committee said his failure or refusal to address the security crisis in the state at a very early stage, provided a fertile ground and enabling environment for the influx of bandits from other parts of the country and neighbouring countries. This situation complicated and up scaled the armed banditry in the state to the extent of covering the entire 14 local government areas, spilling over to neighbouring Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger and Sokoto states.