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OPINION: Zamfara and the Nightmare of Violence

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The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, announced in January that the Federal Government has assembled a strong military force comprising 1,000 personnel, to tackle the bandits terrorising communities in Zamfara.

According to Garba Shehu in a statement in Abuja, the formation of the Force was directed by President Muhammadu Buhari, and the personnel in the squad were drawn from the Army, Air Force, Police and the Civil Defence.

Many Nigerians has shown their growing concern on the level of “Killing for Fun, Kidnapping for Ransom” in the state of Zamfara, northwestern Nigeria, which also shows the current state of security in the country.

For a state like Zamfara, it is disheartening and disappointing, a state rich in Gold and farming. More than 3000 people killed, 500 villages raised signals of “no entry”. But this has raised many questions, including the whereabout of the state governor, and the effectiveness of Mansur Dan Ali in his post as the minister of defence, who hailed from the same state.

Data from the National bureau of statistics National Corruption Survey for 2017 published in August 2017 reflected that Crime and Insecurity was the most important issue affecting Nigeria with 38.3% recorded by Zamfara State. Other important issues mentioned include healthcare, unemployment, infrastructure and corruption to make the top five list.

Till present state, numerous towns have that fearful and ghoulish look, that portrays their unsafeness. With confusion and hopes rolling in their memory; What if our daughters going to school could return? What if our wives at home could make it the whole day without being raped and our house could stand strong without been bang down by bandits as they continue to ramble on with hopes.

With this situation, one would think the government too is heartful of the happenings that only if his efforts effects. But no, as the farfetched means to tackle the security issue is far aback.

Moreover, going through the media reportages on the killings, one has no option than to concur with Noam Chomsky when he said: “Everyone’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s really an easy way: Stop participating in it”.

There are many reports that indicate the engagement of some traditional rulers in the state of Zamfara in the banditry activities, and according some local newspapers, the arrested rulers serve as informants to bandits and criminals.

As far as Nigeria is concerned, this is really her trying times, because the country’s troops are still fighting the Boko Haram terrorist group in the northeast of the Nigeria with no end in sight, while the militancy activities are still going on the Niger Delta region.

Some critics of the president Muhammadu Buhari have pointed to the fact that he’s not doing enough to stop the killings, and the announcement of assembling 1000 troops to the state came after until series of protests.

However, during the inauguration of the institute for peace and conflict resolution (IPCR) technical committee to understudy Zamfara conflict last year, the chairman of the Governing board of the institute, Senator Muhammad Abba Ali, explained how their peace were shattered into pieces with interests and population pressure as the remote and root cause of the killings.

He said the advancement in technology gave rise to the invention of all seasons crops, therefore the interest of the farmers, who desires to farm all seasons, and the cattle breeders, who wants to graze their cattle started conflicting.

Meanwhile, Intelligence analyses reported that there is a link between the illicit gold mining industry and the killings in Zamfara. This has also led to the suspension of mining in the restive northwestern state of Zamfara which is rich in gold, although the mining activities there are unstructured, widely informal and illegal.

“The federal government has ordered the suspension of all mining activities in Zamfara State with immediate effect,” said the presidential aide Bashir Ahmed in a tweet.

Gold from Zamfara is habitually stealth out of the state to markets in neighbouring Togo, Benin and Niger. From there, the gold finds its way out to other markets across the world, with the country generating few to nothing from the sale; and while the state is still maintaining its status on the list of poorest states in the country.

The coalition on conflict resolution and human rights in Nigeria has urged and recommended that the Federal Government should review existing conflict areas in the country and properly identified the ones that warrant the deployment of military personnel.

That matters that are deemed as falling within jurisdiction of the Police should be so assigned to then in order to minimize the distractions to troops from the military being deployed to deal with what the police is able to deal with in other climes.

The Federal Government should also urgently investigate the identities of those facilitating the bandits’ attacks and scale up the presence of security in Zamfara and the neighbouring states.

“we also need a comprehensive approach, rather than episodic ones whenever there is a surge in attacks,” said Olusegun Adeniyi, a Nigerian journalist, a former presidential spokesman for the late President Umaru. For that to happen, the national security architecture must be redefined in a manner that takes into account the peculiarities of crises in different parts of the country.

Abdulwasiu Mujeeb is a gifted writer and a prolific Columnist with REPUBLICAN Online Newspaper.

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