Matawalle: There are over 30,000 bandits in the north
Bello Matawalle, governor of Zamfara, says there are over 30,000 bandits operating across six northern states.
He listed the states as Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Kebbi, and Kaduna.
Speaking through Ibrahim Dosara, his chief press secretary, at a media briefing on Friday, he insisted that his administration will continue to embrace dialogue with bandits.
Matawalle has repeatedly spoken in favour of dialoguing with bandits, despite contrary positions from other governors such as Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna.
According to him, close to 3,000 people have been killed during attacks by bandits between 2011 and 2019, while over 1,000 were kidnapped within the same period.
“Before the coming of the present administration, 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,” he said.
“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 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 traumatised. 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 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, 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?”