Outcry, fear as Buhari issues 60 days ultimatum to bandits in Zamfara

  In a renewed bid to stem the spate of insecurity occasioned by banditry in Zamfara State, President Muhammadu Buhari has given bandits ope...

 

In a renewed bid to stem the spate of insecurity occasioned by banditry in Zamfara State, President Muhammadu Buhari has given bandits operating in forests in the state 60 days to surrender.

According to the State Governor, Bello Matawalle in a state-wide broadcast on Tuesday, President Buhari also ordered the deployment of additional 6,000 troops to the State to crush the bandits if they fail to surrender.

“In my discussion with President Muhammadu Buhari and the security higher commands in Abuja, it was resolved that 6,000 additional troops will be deployed to complement the effort of other security forces in tackling the security challenges in the state.

“The troops will soon arrive in the state for their operations and we are grateful to the federal government.

“The president has agreed to a time frame within which the recalcitrant bandits should surrender their weapons and key into our peace initiative. The peace deal initiated by my administration has recorded successes including the disarmament, securing the release of hundreds of kidnapped persons, reopening of markets and the resumption of other economic activities across the State.

“Even though we are enjoying relative peace as a result of this dialogue and reconciliation programme, some armed bandits refused to key into the programme and they sustain their attacks on our communities. The government has equally observed that there is sabotage by some unscrupulous elements within and outside the state,” Matawalle said in the broadcast.

The President’s order, in the words of Governor Matawalle was clear, “you have a timeline to lay down your weapons and surrender, if not, our troops will crush you!”

Though the orders appear to be clear enough, when spoke to a cross section of Nigerians on what the order means based on their own interpretations.

You Can Still Operate for Two months

In what appears to be a sarcastic response, a cross section of respondents are of the view that by the President’s ultimatum, the bandits has a window of two months to continue with their murderous activities.

Cyril Afama, a Lagos resident believes President Buhari, by his ultimatum, has only shown his compromising attitude towards the bandits and other criminals of Fulani extraction.

“For me, the President has only given the bandits in Zamfara forests a window of opportunity to continue to kill, maim, abduct and destroy people’s property. That’s is the way I see it. Why the ultimatum? Do you need the two months to plan your own strategies or the troops you have deployed are going to be imported from Mars?

“I can bet it with you that the ultimatum, has more than ever projected the President as either complicit in the whole thing or that he is a weak leader who does not have what it takes to be decisive on matters challenging the country’s corporate existence. I also see a situation where the bandits will see him as weak, a situation that must have emboldened them by now. Effective leaders are known by the decisions they make, their strategic nature and the ability to take risky ones in very precarious circumstances but for the good of all. Unfortunately, President has failed to stand up to be counted in that league’, Afama said.

For Kenneth Williams, a security experts, with the ultimatum from President Buhari, Nigeria may witness heightened attacks and abductions in Zamfara.

“I foresee a situation where these bandits will increase the tempo and frequencies of their attacks and abduction of innocent Nigerians. You must understand that these people are outlaws, people who have constituted themselves into rival authorities and are largely driven by substance abuse. Most, if not all of them act perpetually under the influence of hard drugs, and as such nothing reasonable makes sense to them.

“I see a situation where, just to prove the point that we are not bothered by your ultimatum, the frequency of their attacks is increased. They will certainly want to make a statement and their statement may, God forbid, be deadly”, Willians said.

Bandits Elsewhere Can Remain in Business

Other respondents query opined that the President and the security agencies are only concerned about bandits in Zamfara, while those terrorising Katsina, Niger and Kaduna states are free to continue their reign of terror in their respective domains.

They also wondered why President Buhari failed to extend same ultimatum to criminal herdsmen terrorising the South-West, South-East and Benue State.

“I personally find the President’s order lopsided and with defect. How can he concentrate his order only on Zamfara? Is that the only state in the country that is suffering from banditry? The truth is that there is virtually no state in Nigeria that does not have these problems, either in the name of bandits or criminal herdsmen, who are constantly killing, maiming and kidnapping Nigerians.

“In the South-West, people are afraid to travel because of the activities of criminal herdsmen, which I honestly believe to be bandits. There have been attacks on communities without provocation and most recently, these criminals hiding under the toga of herdsmen extended their rein of terror to the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, where they kidnapped people travelling from Lagos to Ibadan at about 5pm. And around Ishabo village in Ikorodu, two people were kidnapped and were not released until N15 million ransom was paid. The victims, in their account insisted that those who abducted them were Fulani. So why is the President focusing more on Zamfara?

“First, it was the ban on mining and a declaration of no fly zone. Now it is an ultimatum, which I find weak in itself. But, however weak it may be, it does not make sense that other parts of the country were left out”, Adeyemi Ikuosetan, a staunch advocate for Oduduwa Republic, said.

Speaking in the same vein, Mr. Emeka Chinedu, a Biafra enthusiast, believes President Buhari may not have a good grasp of the nature and extent of insecurity in the country and that his aides may actually be hiding the truth from him.

According to him, if the President understands what is happening in other parts of the country, he would, without hesitation, have declared a state of emergency to frontally confront the menace these criminals have constituted themselves into.

“The President, as many have said several times, may not just be aware. He is also unfortunate to have been surrounded by a band of praise singers, who find it difficult to see anything wrong with his administration and by extension, Nigeria under his watch. His aides and advisers can be described as charlatans, who want to remain in in the good books of their boss. They have forgotten that their number one job is to help the President see clearly, the true picture of things.

“For me, what we need is a state of emergency; a situation where the nation declares war on these insurgents, bandits and criminal herdsmen said to be from outside the country. It is wrong to concentrate on one state and think the problem will be solved. Why not declare same ultimatum in Kaduna, where there is an ongoing systemic genocide against the people of Southern Kaduna? Why not do the same in his home state, Katsina, that has been at the mercies of bandits? Why not do the same in Niger, where there is a thriving population of bandits making life difficult for the people. And remember, these states are connected by vast forests where they reign supreme. Honestly, the President and his advisers need to have a rethink”, Chinedu submitted.

Mr. Shogo Adeyemi, a public affairs commentator believes the President’s ultimatum is more economic driven. According to him, the vast gold deposit in Zamfara and the ban placed on its mining may have informed the ultimatum and the urgent desire to clear the bandits out of the way so that the friends of the President and his party with interest in the gold mines can resume their operations without so much concern for attacks by bandits.

“Let’s face the truth here; for President Buhari to have singled out Zamfara out of all the states in the North-West suffering heavily from the activities of bandits should make it clear that it is all about the gold deposits in the state. If Buhari has not deemed it fit to do same in Kaduna and Katsina before now and did not see any reason to cover them with his ultimatum, then the motive becomes obvious, the gold mining business is the target.

“It is, however, unfortunate that this administration cannot even put on a cloak and sell us an intelligent dummy. It is unfortunate that this administration probably sees Nigerians as fools and people not capable of using their intellect. Because that’s the only explanation for the highly insensitive ultimatum, when other parts of the country are crying to the same government for help against the marauding bandits and criminals”, Adeyemi said.

Rights groups, including the Human Rights Writers Association, HURIWA, have questioned the ultimatum, stating that it will now become a ‘party time’ for the bandits to operate unhindered, thereby, putting the lives of Nigerians in absolute danger.

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