Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State has given a reason why his administration is negotiating with bandits, declaring that the option remains the only solution to the insecurity in the North-West region.
The governor explained that at least there are almost 30,000 bandits in 100 camps in the state and five other neighbouring states.
The neighbouring states are Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kaduna, Niger and Katsina, according to the governor.
He said between 2011 and 2019, bandits had wasted 2,619 people, kidnapped 1,190 others and collected over N970 million ransom from victims’ families during the periods under review.
The governor stated these through the state Commissioner of Information, Mr. Ibrahim Dosara in Kaduna on Friday.
Matawalle said his administration chose the path of peace with the bandits to stop the wanton waste of innocent citizens’ lives and property.
He said, “Before the coming of the present administration of His Excellency Dr Bello Mohammed Matawallen Maradun on May 29th 2019 as the Executive Governor of Zamfara state, Zamfara people were in a devastating state of dilemma and fear of the unknown due to rural banditry. Rampant killings, maiming, kidnapping, raping, vandalism and attacks became the order of the day.
“From available records, over 2,619 people were killed between 2011 and 2019. This is in addition to the 1,190 people kidnapped by the bandits. The records also show that the N970 million was paid as ransom. While 14,378 animals were rustled within the period and over 100,000 people were displaced from their ancestral homes.
“People were traumatized. Farmers were prevented from going to their farms to cultivate the usual food and cash crops for their daily needs. There was general food insecurity in the state in particular and the region in general. The economy of the state was devastated by the crisis.
“This is in addition to the proliferation of both light and heavy weapons, with a high influx of bandits from the neighbouring countries, with no solution in sight. The crisis defied all forms of solution.
“This is in addition to a large number of bandits camps across the state and beyond. At least there are almost one hundred (100) different bandit camps in Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kaduna, Niger and Katsina, with no fewer than 300 bandits in each of these camps having sophisticated weapons with them.”
The Governor added, “Coupled with the shortage of manpower in the security sector and a very poor intelligence network. Yet, the governor must ensure the protection of the lives and property of the people.
“Now tell me, which is the best option for the governor? To fold his arms to watch his people being killed or to go for dialogue and continue to use the repentant bandits to convince the recalcitrant bandits to save the lives of the governed?”