Banditry: How stick and carrot approach is yielding results in Zamfara

 In Zamfara state, the state government in conjunction with the police hierarchy is doing everything possible to bring criminalities to an end through a two prong approach of discipline and dialogue. SANUSI MUHAMMAD reports.

Zamfara state had been in the news for so many wrong reasons bothering on insecurity. Created in 1996, the area was part of Sokoto state with Hausa and Fulani as major tribes.Major groups are the Zamfarawa mainly in Anka, Gummi, Bukkuyum and Talata Mafara local governments areas.Gobirawa people are mostly in Shinkafi local government, they are said to have migrated from the Gobir Kingdom. Burmawa are found in Bakura while Fulani are found in Bungudu, Maradun, Gusau and other parts of the state. In Tsafe, Bungudu and Maru local governments are mainly Katsinawa, Garewawa and Hadejawa. While Alibawa people are found in Kaura Namoda and Zurmi.Zamfara with an area of 38,418 square kilometres, is bordered in the north by Niger Republic; to the south by Kaduna state. In the east, it is bordered by Katsina state and to the west by Sokoto and Niger states, respectively. At the wake of British colonialism, the emerging town of Gusau became an important commercial and administrative centre with road and rail networks passing through it. With the creation of states during the Gowon administration, Zamfara Kingdom became part of the then North-west state and later the Sokoto state.

Its albatros/set-back

The state has over 1.8 million fertile lands that can grow a variety of crops both subsistence and commercial. However, in the last couple of years, the main factor that affects agriculture has been insecurity. The trend began with the farmers/herders crisis and gradually turned into cattle rustling from 2012 up to 2019 when banditry, kidnapping and other criminalities became the order of the day in which thousands of innocent people were killed. Many were also kidnapped with ransom worth over N1b been paid to kidnappers.Painfully, the insecurity situation that bedeviled the state has contributed immensely to backwardness of agriculture in which the government needs to find the right mechanism towards reviving the sector.
Efforts and results so far
There is a need to engage and support both repentant bandits and other Fulani settlers as well as vigilantes known as Yansakai Group into embracing mechanised farming systems for the economic growth of the state.Since the beginning of reconciliation process by the state government under the leadership of Governor Bello Matawalle last year, over 2,000 kidnapped victims were unconditionally released from captivities as over 62 bandits surrendered their arms while a total of arms surrendered were 157 and 1, 774 ammunition recovered from the repentant bandits. This is a clear indication that the peace and reconciliation process initiated and embarked upon by the state government in partnership with the Office of the state Commissioner of Police, CP Abutu Yaro, is yielding positive results towards the socio-economic growth of the state.Another tremendous success of the administration was recently recorded when Auwalun Daudawa, a notorious bandit kingpin who allegedly masterminded the kidnapping of Government Science Secondary School Kankara students few months ago surrendered over 22 Ak-47 rifles a few weeks ago and for over one month now, relative peace is  gradually returning to the state as rampant activities of banditry has been minimised to the bearest minimum. Governor Matawalle has been battling with so many criticism regarding the peace and reconciliation process initiated by his administration with bandits  particularly his counterpart governors of Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Niger states as well as his political opponents that the use of force is the only way while his counterpart governors who are against the peace are looking at the process as a serious problems to their respective states.

Police midas role in peace efforts

On his part, CP Abutu Yaro had recently set up a seven- man Police Peace and Implementation Committee for peace  to thrive in the state. It is headed by the Chief Imam of the state Police Command SP Alhassan Suleiman, assisted by the  O/C SIB CSP Rufa’i Ahmad Nuhu and four other Fulani speaking police officers, respectively.”The terms of references of the committee is to interact and dialogue with all warring parties especially Fulani bandits operating in different camps and locations in the state and to facilitate the surrendering of arms and ammunition by repentant bandits and providing religious interface such as Tafsir and Islamic re- orientation to the Fulani nationalities in the forests and pastoralists camps and ensure accessing peace through Islamic appeasement,” Said Abutu.The police chief further added that, “On December 24 2020, our peace building initiative led to the unconditional surrendering of three AK-47 rifles and 47 rounds of live ammunition to the government committee on disarmament that comprises the police, military, DSS and the Ministry for Security and Home Affairs.”The current peace process initiated by the state government in collaboration with the Office of the  CP shows that the local government councils caretakers have done nothing towards assisting the state government in facilitating dialogue with bandits in their respective councils.

There is therefore the need for the caretakers to work closely with their respective Divisional Police Offices DPOs in line with the proactive measures put in place by the police to have peace reconciliation processes at local levels instead of leaving it to the Office of the governor and CP. Analysts are of the views that by decentralising the process, the caretakers would help the governor to actualise his dream of making Zamfara peaceful.  Mining activities in Zamfara
Gold mining in Zamfara state has become a source of income not only to some persons in the state but  thousands of people from neighbouring states like Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Kaduna. However, findings reveal that gold mining activities kicked-started properly in the state between 2008 and 2010 by some local miners. As a result of this, thousands of people from far and near penetrated into the state to earn a living through local gold mining exploration.

Activities of influential persons

Investigation by the Blueprint reveals that some highly influential and prominent personalities, politicians, traditional rulers are alleged to be fully involved in gold mining business in the state, a situation which would be difficult for the government to attain her desired objectives of generating revenue. This is to the extent that the business has been going on without anything accruing to the federation.The Report says that mining activities have been going on for over 10 years in the state illegally without licences from the federal government. Ex governor Yari while fielding questions from journalists had said the problem also denied the government any commission as its source of generating revenue directly or indirectly.In 2017, a report indicated that the federal government lost about N3.23 trillion equivalent to $9billion in revenue accruable from gold exports due to the activities of illegal miners across the country, including Zamfara.

However, findings further revealed that the federal government had issued official licenses between 2009 to 2010 to over 1,000 indigenous companies for gold mining in the state and other parts of the country, but the majority of those companies have been operating without paying money to the federal government.
Gold mining and banditry: Any link?
Investigation has shown that gold mining in Zamfara is found in the local government areas of Maru, Anka, Talata Mafara, Bungudu, Bukkukyyum and Gusau. In Maru, there are  Duki mine and old gold mine in Mararaba which is a two sub-parallel quartz veins system; while in Anka, there are other minor ones such as Kwali, Jameson, Zuzzurfa and Kuba, Bagega, Dareta and Yargalma hosted by schist, phyllites and quartzites of the schist belts.Zamfara also is blessed with gold occurrence in Malele which is the extreme southern part of the Maru schist belt. The mineral in this location based on the finding was said to have been discovered in 1934 with the most prominent of the veins being 1.5m thick, 370m long and a grade of about 30ppm Au, respectively. Recent finding by the federal government that all mining sites in the state have link with banditry was as a result of the fact that between 2017 and 2018, local miners in some mining sites were allegedly said to be conniving with bandits to kidnap and carry out other heinous acts in the state which made the state government to on 30 May 2017, close down over 50 mining sites allegedly operating illegally in the state. Meanwhile, CP Abutu said Fulani people particularly bandits have nothing to do with mining. He stated this during  a brief discussion with Blueprint in his office recently.

The police boss rather suggested that the state government should create an enabling environment for mining activities across all mining sites in the state, specifically by ensuring only registered and local artisanal miners are allowed to operate and ensure they meet all guidelines before being given opportunity to operate.He suggested that Fulani people in the state should be provided with all social amenities like any other citizens.

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