Senate President Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan has said drug barons are sponsors of terrorist groups, bandits and kidnappers in Nigeria.
Lawan made the disclosure Thursday while receiving Chairman National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (rtd) at the National Assembly Abuja.
“The National Assembly members are almost on a daily interaction with our constituents and we know the very debilitating impact of drug abuse in our various communities.
“You have rightly said almost every community in this country suffers from drug addiction. So, we are very mindful of what is happening.
“I believe that this agency needs restructuring. Now that you have taken over, we should go the whole haul to restructure the agency, not piece meal touches, because we need to get it right.
“My personal opinion is that NDLEA should be in the league of EFCC, ICPC, and therefore, the kind of support that those two agencies I mentioned receive, you should receive something like that, in addition to many other things that you should be supported with.
“So, the National Assembly will definitely work with you, we will partner with you, and will ensure that we do our best to give you the kind of support that will enable you properly to discharge your mandate.
“Having said this, let me say that Nigeria as a country is in one way or the other a transit route for drugs.
“Drug peddlers pass their drugs through Nigeria – cannabis, heroin and possibly even cocaine.
“We believe that this has to stop, because the proceeds of such activities fund terrorism, they fund banditry, you wonder how the bandits have RPGs and these massive arms that they have.
“Definitely, these are some acquisition provided by some barons, not the bandits themselves.
“So, we need to ensure that this transit role that Nigerians plays is addressed properly. And here we have to approach this through multi-sectoral efforts – the Customs, Immigration Service, our Security Agencies, and in fact, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and our seaports.
“Of course, this is not going to be easy, but we have to be steadfast and we should do whatever is possible without the limited resources we have to make you better,” Lawan said.
Bandits in Zamfara
Meanwhile, a group of suspected bandits Wednesday besieged Tungar Baushe village under Ruwan Tofa District of Dansadau Emirate under Maru local government area of Zamfara state, abducting over 60 women.
The attack came barely five days after some 279 schoolgirls in a junior secondary school in Jangebe, Talata Mafara local government area, kidnapped Friday, were released Sunday.
In a telephone interview with Blueprint, a resident of the area, Malam Adamu Bena, said the bandits sent a letter to the locals last week informing them of their mission.
Consequently, the villagers started evacuating their foodstuff and other belongings Tuesday to Ruwan Tofa, a nearby village.
Bena further stated that the vigilantes known as Yansakai from Ruwan Tofa resolved to confront the bandits in their hideout.
However, the vigilantes could not match the firepower of the bandits, who thereafter headed to both Ruwan Tofa and Tungar Baushe and attacked the communities, kidnapping over 60 women and young girls on the spot.
Bena further lamented that there were no security personnel deployed to the area to restore peace and protect lives and properties of the affected villagers.
He called on the federal government to deploy more security personnel to the area to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to book.
“As I am talking to you now, both Ruwan Tofa and Tungar Baushe villages were deserted and sacked as a result of the activities of the bandits,” Bena further stated.
Another victim from Ruwan Tofa village who craved anonymity, told BBC Hausa, monitored by one of our reporters in Gusau, the state capital, that the bandits kidnapped 15 of his family members, burnt over 90 bags of corns belonging to him when they set the village ablaze.
He said all their calls to security agencies went unanswered.
Police confirm development
However, when contacted, the police public relations officer in the state, SP. Muhammad Shehu confirmed the development.
He dismissed media reports that about 70 people were kidnapped, saying the number quoted was misleading and attempt to create fear in the minds of Zamfara citizens.
“The Zamfara Police Command has received information about the attack on the village which occurred on 3rd March 2021. Our combined teams of ground and aerial surveillance are on extensive bush combing of the surrounding forests aimed at rescuing the victims suspected to have been kidnapped,” Shehu stated.
Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle had since last year, embarked on dialoguing with various groups of bandits, with over a hundred of them embracing peace and laying down their arms, even as the menace continues to rear its ugly head.
In a related development, security agencies have killed a deadly leader of bandits, Rufai Maikaji, who commanded over 100 fighter-terrorists in killing, kidnapping and cattle rustling missions across Giwa, Igabi and Chikun communities in Kaduna state.
The state commissioner for internal security and home affairs, Samuel Aruwan said Maikaji and dozens of his fighters were killed late February during an air interdictions around the fringes of Malul Forest in Igabi local government area of the state.
He said: “After painstaking checks with security agencies, and careful exploitation of numerous human intelligence sources, the Kaduna state government can authoritatively confirm that one ‘Rufai Maikaji’ a deadly bandit who commanded over a hundred fighters has been neutralised.
“Rufai Maikaji and dozens of his fighters were neutralized during air interdictions around the fringes of Malul Forest in Igabi LGA of Kaduna Central Senatorial District.
“The aerial missions in which Rufai Maikaji and his gang were neutralized were conducted in late February when he (Rufai Maikaji) and the bandits under his command, on sighting ground troops, escaped from Anaba village of Igabi LGA where they killed some citizens, burnt houses and kidnapped some locals.
“The prompt response by the air platforms ended the reign of terror maintained by Rufai Maikaji and his bloodsucking accomplices.
“From further checks, ‘Rufai Maikaji’ and his group were confirmed to be responsible for the killing, kidnapping and cattle rustling in Iyatawa, Garke, Kumfa, Bakali, Karau-karau and Galadimawa, Anaba, Kerawa, Hashimawa, Sabon Birni, Buruku communities in Giwa, Igabi and Chikun LGAs and parts of Chikun LGA axis of Kaduna-Birnin Gwari Road.
*Rufai Maikaji is said to have begun his ignoble career as an errand boy to some deadly bandits in and around Sabon Birni general area of Igabi LGA. From this position, he grew to become a household name in banditry.
“The Kaduna state government, military, police, DSS and all agencies have assured residents of the communities that suffered the brutality of Rufai Maikaji that aggressive pursuit of other accomplices who escaped the onslaught is in full swing, and they will be caught sooner rather than later.
“In his response, Governor Nasir El-Rufai praised the military for taking down the bandit leader and his accomplices. The Governor further assured them of the firm commitment of the government and people of Kaduna state in the ongoing operations against the bandits throughout the state.”
Meanwhile, Secretary to the Niger state Government Ibrahim Matane has confirmed that the meeting of bandits’ commanders scheduled for last week Friday in Shiroro local government of the state actually held.
He said government would have another interface with the commanders on some of their resolutions to identify the ones government could manage.
The SSG stated this Thursday during a post-executive council meeting press briefing at Government House Minna.
He said government had also promulgated a law establishing the Niger state Security Trust Fund to ensure sustainable funding of security activities in the state.
He said: “One of the kingpins of the bandits’ commanders was to call for a meeting to see how they would stretch that hands of dialogue within the state so that the state can be as peaceful as we would want it. He called for a meeting in Shiroro and the meeting actually took place but the government was not represented because we have realized that the meeting was purely for others of the bandits in other locations.”
“When they are through with that, we will interface them again to see some resolutions that government can also leverage on. But like I have always said, dealing with security matters is like ‘carrot and stick’. The stick is still there as security agents are doing what they are supposed to do,” Matane said.
He said the state government was ready to receive those willing to the mainstream and pursue their legitimate means of livelihood, adding “this is the position of government.”
On the Security Trust Fund, the SSG said: “The fund is a sustainable mechanism for support to security interventions we having jointly with other stakeholders. So the law has become effective Wednesday and it will give us a very effective platform to fund security activities in Niger state”.
He said the law provided opportunity for government to explore outside budgetary provision to canvass funds for security activities both in terms of equipment, infrastructures and human resources. “It has also created a window where private sector, financial institutions and companies operating in the state can make contributions through their corporate social responsibility functions,” the SSG further added.
He said that the fund would be managed by independent board nominated from security stakeholders and individuals with proven integrity and ability, explaining that, “the fund will help in minimizing criminality, kidnapping and banditry in Niger state, because we are sure that we are going to have more sustainable funding of the security towards fighting these criminal activities.”No tags for this post.