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Over 2,000 killed in Zamfara

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Over 2,000 killed in Zamfara

Gov Yari: Attacks a daily affair

It’s a national emergency –Marafa

Trader: Families pay millions of naira every week to kidnappers

Resident: Whistle blowers are hunted and killed by gunmen

Armed robbery, cattle rustling and killings prevalent in nine LGs

 

 

There are indications that some militia groups may have killed over 2,000 people and destroyed property running into several billions of naira in some towns and villages across nine out of the 14 local governments in Zamfara State in the last seven years.

Sunday Telegraph learnt this, following investigations into disclosure by the Senator representing Zamfara Central in the National Assembly, Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa, who raised the alarm, that some militia have taken over some parts of the state, handling cases and usurping functions of judicial officers and the police.

Speaking in the Senate penultimate week, Senator Marafa said the state governor and his deputy, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Yari and Ibrahim Wakkala, respectively, as well as the Commissioner of Police, Kenneth Ebrimson, were aware of these, but have failed to bring them to justice.

Marafa, who is the Senate Chairman, Petroleum Committee (Down Stream), told the Senate: “Early in the morning yesterday, (penultimate week), I received a call from my hometown that some people were kidnapped in broad day light, just to buttress the point that Zamfara State is now under the control of militia, especially where I come from.

“The most saddening part of it is that the governor of the state knows these people; the deputy governor knows these people. I want to say again and again that the governor of the state knows the perpetrators of these crimes; the deputy governor knows these people; the commissioner of police knows these people. They move around freely with their arms. “I said it yesterday. I was at home during the fuel crisis and I saw them and today, they are the ones that judge between people in more than 60 per cent of where I represent. If there is any dispute between people, they are the ones that adjudicate. “People no longer go to the local authorities – the emirs, the chiefs, the village heads and so on.

They don’t go to any police. If there is a problem, they go into the bush (to meet these militia) and say ‘I have this problem with these people’, and these militia will come to town and ask that the people (the accused) be released to them. Sir, this is a national emergency, and I am saying this before every Nigeria, this is the situation in Zamfara State today,” he said.

Sunday Telegraph’s investigations showed that from 2011 to date, such attacks, which come in the forms of armed robbery, cattle rustling and killings, have ravaged dozens of villages. In Maru Local Government, villages affected are Lingyado, Tungar Baush, Yar Galadima, Dansadau, Bindin, Sangeku, Daqaga and Dankurmi. Others are Kizara, Yanwaren Daji, Keta and Kwarin Ganuwa in Tsafe Local Government, the birthplace of Ibrahim Chafe, a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police.

 

In Maradun Local Government, villages and towns like Gora Namaye, Magami, Tubali and Kayawere were attacked, while in Shinkafi Local Government, villages and towns like Tubali, Shanawa, Dolen Moriki, Jangeru and Katuru were affected. In Anka Local Government, villages attacked include Agega, Tungar Kudaku, Dareta and Yargalma, and during each attack, people were killed and the bandits also rustled hundreds of thousands of cattle. In Bukuyum Local Government, people were attacked in towns like Kyaram and Adafka, while there were pockets of attacks in Wanke, Magami, Gidan Dogo and Tungar Jaki -all in Gusau Local Government. In Birnin Magaji Local Government, there were killings and cattle rustling in Kauyen Dan’ali and Nasarawa Mailayi. Rukudawa village in Zurmi Local Government also recorded some attacks.

 

One of the victims of recent attacks, Muhammad Lawali Kokiya, from Birmin Magaji Local Government Area, who narrowly escaped when more than 30 people were killed recently by gunmen in Kokiya village, said the gunmen invaded his village with more than 70 motorcycles.

They killed two people on the first day of attack, set some houses ablaze and carted away animals. He said he saw hell the night they arrived at the village.

In his words: “The gunmen returned the next day and also invaded my village and the neighbouring village of Chigama and have killed more than 30 persons most of whose bodies were recovered from the bush.” Kokiya noted that the Chigama attack took place shortly after three police trucks left the village when they noticed that peace had returned to the area. The armed bandits also set several houses on fire on their second attack on Chigama village.

 

A merchant, Musa Ammani, from Tsafe Local Government Area, expressed fear about continuing running his business down to rural areas across the 14 local government areas of the state, alleging that some places were partly ruled by armed bandits.

 

Also, a farmer who identified himself as Yakubu Shuaibu from Dansadau area of Maru Local Government Area, alleged that the state government’s claim to have addressed the security challenges in the state is untrue, as they could not harvest their large quantity of farm products due to the presence and activities of bandits bearing firearms in the axis.

 

Shuaibu said: “It is too dangerous and unsafe for innocent people to even serve as informer to either local authorities or security agencies for necessary actions against criminal activities, as he would be hunted and killed by the dangerous gunmen who often receive names of whistle blowers against them.” One Adamu Isah, a trader and an indigene of Kaura Namoda Local Government Area, alleged that commercial activities were gradually perishing in the area and even beyond, following incessant reports on kidnapping almost on daily basis, “Millions of naira were being packaged every week by affected families with a view to paying ransoms to kidnappers,” he said.

 

Also a retailer in Gusau, the state capital, who did not want his name published, claimed that he had to relocate his business to Katsina State, a more peaceful environment as merciless groups of criminals simply identified as ‘Yan Sara-Suka’ have embarked on shops-breakings, house burgling and killings of innocent people who resist them. In response to security concerns in the state, Islamic scholars have in their sermon during last Friday prayers, called for the Muslims to conduct special prayers for God’s intervention to restore peace in the state.

 

Only last week, gunmen abducted two biological children of the member Federal House of Representatives, representing Bakura/Maradun Federal Constituency, Hon. Yahaya Chado at Gora Namaye in Maradun Local Government.

 

The gunmen reported entered Gora Namaye, the hometown of the reps member around 2:30am last Monday, went directly to the residence of the reps member and abducted the two sons namely Junaidu and Nadir Yahaya respectively. A resident of Hora town who craved anonymity said that the gunmen, numbering about 100 entered the town on motorbikes, started shooting sporadically, killing six people and injuring 10 others who are presently receiving treatment at the General Hospital, Maradun.

 

Governor, Alhaji Abdul’Aziz Yari Abubakar, during his visit to Goran Namaye after the incident donated one million naira to each family of the deceased and N250,000 each to the injured persons. Yari, who was accompanied by heads of security agencies in the state lamented that despite the commitments of the state government to improve security bandits were still terrorising communities in the state. He said it was very unfortunate despite all the logistics being provided to security agencies in the state bandits are still killing the people. “Attacks of bandits to our communities become daily activities. I give you one week to bring out the attackers of the communities,” he said.

 

Recently, gunmen sacked about five villages in Maradun Local Government area of the state, where they killed several people, burnt down houses and carted away animals and other belongings. Security officials had said recently that terrorist from the Islamic States have infiltrated the country from some African countries and the fear has been further heightened by the fact that Zamfara State has border towns with Niger Republic. But the Commissioner of Police in the State, Mr. Kenneth Ebrimson, told one of our correspondents that the criminals were bandits and cattle rustlers who operate and disappeared into the forest. “We are not ignorant of the activities of these bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers, and we arrest them from time to time.

 

Since I resumed duties here about two months ago, I have arrested over 60 of such and they are facing the full weight of law. “I don’t know what the Senator meant by invasion and that is not occurring here. That might be a figment of his imagination. I have had some interactions with him and responded to his security needs during the fuel scarcity period, but I can tell you he has blown the matter out of proportion. I was not here in 2011 and cannot comment on what happened then, but for now, I am aware of security challenges and we are curtailing them,” he said.

 

Commissioner for Information in the State, Umaru Kotorkoshi, confirmed there have been some security breaches “carried out by bandits in the forests” in the state over the years, but noted that they were not any different from what is happening in Southern Kaduna, Benue and Nassarawa state. “The state is not under siege and I can tell you that Governor Yari has risen to the situation. He visited Goro Namaye recently during one of such attacks and gave heads of various security agencies in the state who were on his entourage marching orders to arrest the criminals,” he said.

 

The Organising Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the state, Babangida Abubakar Anka, condemned the statement made by Senator Mafara and chided the two other senators, Ahmed Rufa’i Sani and Tijjani Yahaya Kaura, for their refusal to defend the state before the Senate. Others have also insinuated that Senator Marafa was only heating up the polity because of his frosty relationship with Governor Yari over the former’s political ambition.

 

They said the senator’s governorship campaign posters currently adorn many parts of the state. But some respondents stoutly defended Senator Marafa, stating he has the right to present any motion on the floor of the Senate, especially where such is necessary in the interest of his state. One of them, Sani Tsafe, said the senator was correct to have come out and with the truth on the security situation in the state.

 

According to him, Zamfara State, under the present administration, has experienced several tragedies, kidnappings, loss of properties and loss of lives in the hands of criminals without substantive steps by the state government to curtail the situation.

 

Similarly, Adamu Nuhu from Gusau Local Government Area, told Sunday Telegraph that Senator Marafa was in the right direction, adding that all he said were true and he did it for the sake of the entire state.

 

“When this motion was presented by the Senator, some individuals who do not want the truth of the state of insecurity bedeviling the state to be an open up one, considered it a political statement and as such, shouted ignorantly without making sense of the situation we have found ourselves,” said Nuhu.

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