With President Muhammadu Buhari’s blessing, Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, has given bandits in his troubled territory two months to ‘repent’ and embrace peace, or face military action.
The governor has made numerous peace deals with bandits that have surrendered arms over the past two years of his administration, handing the criminals amnesty and sometimes compensation.
His efforts to end the regular attacks have failed to yield significant peace as bandits still regularly kill and abduct many in rural parts of the state.
Last month, 279 students in a school in Jangebe were abducted by bandits and were not returned until days later after negotiations with the government.
Matawalle said in a broadcast on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 that bandits who fail to surrender their weapons to the government within the next two months will be crushed by the military.
The governor said President Buhari agreed to the timeframe so as to give a chance to his peace truce which he credited for disarmament and recovery of weapons, and securing the release of hundreds of kidnapped people.
He said the initiative has also led to the reopening of markets and resumption of other economic activities across the state, and reduction in the wave of attacks and killings of people, most especially in the rural communities.
Noting that the Federal Government takes the state’s security challenges very seriously, Matawalle said Buhari has approved the deployment of 6,000 additional troops to contain criminal activities.
The governor blamed Zamfara’s security challenges on bandits that have refused to accept his peace initiatve, and ‘unscrupulous elements’ trying to sabotage his government.
“It is also observed that informants are becoming rampant and their callous activities undetected due to some of our people’s attitude of indifference,” he said.
Matawalle said security agencies have been directed to monitor the activities of all the political actors and take appropriate action against the violators, and that traditional rulers and administrators of Local Government Councils must remain in their respective domains to monitor the influx of any suspicious characters.
The government also banned motorcycles from taking more than two people at a time, with violators threatened with arrest and prosecution. In addition to this, movements of large numbers of motorcycles at the same time have been prohibited.
Matawalle also reiterated that the ban on the activities of vigilante groups remains in place.