…set up disarmament committee
…says ‘Negotiating with bandits, best option to peace’
Governor Bello Matawalle seems to be waving a magic wand in arresting the lingering banditry and the general insecurity in Zamfara State, through various peace initiatives spare-headedly being pursued by his administration in the state.
Recall that the state in the last few years used to be a hotbed for banditry and various first-degree criminalities, with killings and maiming of innocent people being recorded almost on a daily basis.
However, the coming of the Matawalle’s administration turned the fortune of the state for the better as the governor has since been dissipating the administration’s energy and resources towards exterminating banditry and sundry criminality in the state.
Recently, a statement by the governor’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Zailani Bappa, quoted Mr Matawalle as boasting of having restored a banditry-ravaged state he had inherited within three months.
The statement quoted the governor while briefing the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, who was in the state on a working tour and to celebrate this year’s Army Day.
While recalling abductions, killings and maiming of people which were the order of the day then, Mr Matawalle said that the situation was so bad that no road could be plied, no markets were operational and people could no longer go to the farm.
He noted that the Peace Accord initiative which, according to him, was being pursued with honesty, commitment and truthfulness, has brought about the relative peace enjoyed in the state in the last one year.
While speaking to the Army Chief, Mr Matawalle said the Peace Accord led to the winning of souls of over 80% of the then bandits in the state.
He further stated that more than 1000 people were released without ransom and more than 150 dangerous weapons were also surrendered by the repentant bandits.
Governor Matawalle said the success of the peace accord led his administration to three Rugga settlements, one in each of the three Senatorial Districts of the state.
Mr Matawalle, however, stressed that the resurgence of banditry across the entire zone was a source of concern which led the state government to come up with the carrot and stick approach to the fight against banditry in the state.
While acknowledging the increased presence of the Army in support of this approach, the governor assured that there would be improved synergy between the kinetic and non-kinetic operations in the state and the entire zone to get rid of the bandits.
In his remarks, the Chief of Army Staff commended the state governor for purchasing 200 operational vans in support of the Nigerian Security operatives in the state.
Matawalle to set up disarmament committee
Recently, the governor, while inspecting 25 AK-47 rifles surrendered willingly by bandits who repented in the last three days, disclosed plans to set-up a disarmament committee to aid the successes of the Peace Accord being pursued by his administration.
Contrary to the insinuation that the initiative had failed, the governor reiterated that the initiative was gaining more impetus, especially with the carrot and stick approach now adopted by the state government.
“Our fight against banditry is now adopting the carrot and stick approach where those who agree to talk peace with us are spared to live a normal life, while those who refuse or renege will face you,” Mr Matawalle said.
According to him, a disarmament committee comprising of all the segments of the country’s security operatives had been established to aid the initiative.
‘Negotiating with bandits, best option to peace’
Mr Matawalle insisted that negotiating with bandits was the best option to lasting peace, saying that he has no regrets toeing that path.
“We applied the Peace Accord as a means of honest solution to the problem in Zamfara State which has yielded tremendous results never expected in the last one year,” Mr Matawalle noted.
He recalled that the incessant activities of bandits despite heavy military presence at the wake of his administration called for alarm.
“However, our honesty and focus in the deal saw the near total drop in banditry attacks which allowed our roads, markets, schools and farms to be re-opened.
“In the same vein, nearly 1000 persons were willingly released by the ex-bandits and thousands of dangerous weapons willingly surrendered without payment of a single kobo,” Mr Matawalle said.
He said the Peace Accord initiated by his administration has achieved in his first three months more than what its absence has achieved in the past eight years.
Governor Matawalle noted that the different past peace accords employed in the state or elsewhere totally differ in approach and content from that of his administration.
“We categorically made it clear that money was not part of the negotiations. Everyone must come to the table with honesty and genuine intention to end the carnage in our state.
“Nobody was enjoying the trend, including the so-called bandits”, the governor noted.
Mr Matawalle, therefore, assured that the method applied by his administration in the pursuit of peace is still the best.