N970m Ransom Paid to Bandits, 2,619 Killed in Zamfara in 8years – State Official
By Uangbaoje Alex, Kaduna
The Government of Zamfara State, on Friday disclosed that the sum of Nine Hundred and Seventy Thousands (970,000,000) Million Naira was paid as ransom to bandits between 2011 and 2019.
Commissioner of Information in the State, Hon Ibrahim Magaji Dosara, made this known in Kaduna at a press conference.
According to him, over two thousands six hundred and nineteen (2,619) people were also killed during the period. And that one thousand one hundred and ninety people were kidnapped by the bandits according to official records.
While fourteen thousand three hundred and seventy eight animals were rustled within the period. Over One Hundred Thousands (100,000) people were displaced from their ancestral homes.
“The greatest challenge being faced by the administration of Governor Bello Matawalle was the lingering security problems inherited from the immediate past government of His predecessors Governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar.
“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 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.
“The genesis of this conflict began with the killing of the most popular and highly respected Fulani leader in all the neighbouring states of Zamfara, Sokoto, and Kebbi, one Alhaji Ishe, of chilin village in Kuyambana district of Dansadau Emirate in Maru Local Government Area of the state on the 11th of April 2013. Since then, Fulani in the 3 states became aggrieved and aggressive against Hausa communities from where the Yansakai who did the killing emanate.
“The crisis began to worsen by the day through waves of attacks against each other and a series of revenge continued unabated. With the hostilities between the Fulani and Yansakai, each decided to form a formidable group and structure, the Fulani as bandits and Hausa as Yansakai, leading to the drawing of a battle line between them with increasing waves of attacks and counter-attacks, killing scores of innocent people, destruction of valuables and burning down of houses and foodstuffs.
“To further worsen the situation, the Fulani bandits began to establish camps and started recruiting informants and new members into the banditry even among the Hausa, as well as giving them training and weapons.” The Commissioner explained.
He added that “due to untimely attention and necessary intervention, the situation further worsened with attendant consequences of mayhem being unleashed on innocent people across the state. Hence, the bandits were able to establish 24 routes network across the 14 local government areas of the state, with Two Hundred and thirty-two (232) leaders and large followership of four thousand, eight Hundred and twenty-five bandits across the state.
“Consequently, there was the daily loss of lives, kidnappings of people, the rustling of livestock in their thousands and other forms of criminality.”
“My professional colleagues, between 2011 when the crisis began, to 2019 before the emergence of the present government under the leadership of Governor Bello Mohammed Matawallen Maradun, Two Thousand Six Hundred and Nineteen (2,619) people were killed, One Thousand One Hundred and Ninety (1,190) others kidnapped, with over Nine hundred Million Naira (N900,000,000) paid as ransom, Fourteen Thousand Three Hundred and Seventy-Eight (14, 378) animals rustled. While over one hundred thousand (100,000) people were displaced from their ancestral homes. This is in addition to the hundreds of houses that were burned to ashes with foodstuffs and other valuables worth billions of Naira destroyed by the bandits.
“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 with no fewer than 300 bandits in each of these camps having sophisticated weapons with them.
“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?” He said.