Banditry: Service chiefs didn’t take governors’ advice – Tambuwal

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Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State says banditry and other forms of criminal activities in the North-West zone would have been conquered if the nation’s service chiefs took to advice from state governors.

He stated this in a chat with reporters while highlighting his administration’s efforts to restore Sokoto to its peaceful past.

Tambuwal, who doubles as Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum, said that most of the insecurity being experienced in his state was by virtue of its geographical proximity to Niger Republic and Zamfara, which he described as the epicentre of banditry in the North-West.

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The Sokoto governor said he had met the president several times alongside his brother governors from the North over the issue of banditry and terrorism.

He said that the governors had also met the nation’s service chiefs on several occasions where they advised them to conduct simultaneous kinetic operations to prevent bandits being dislodged from Zamfara from taking refuge in neighbouring states.

According to him, the service chiefs did not heed the advice.

The governor identified Nigeria’s porous borders as a challenge to peace and security in the north.

He further identified inadequacy of manpower, firepower and equipment as a challenge that the nation’s security agencies have to contend with in their bid to restore peace.

Tambuwal said,  “I will give you a background of how we got to where we are at the moment.

“Unfortunately, Zamfara State has been the epicentre of banditry and kidnapping in the Northwest. Most of the states including Niger really are getting the heat from Zamfara. And what is the distance of Zamfara to Sokoto? Almost about 14 local governments are either neighbouring Zamfara or Niger Republic. And what is happening in the Sahel region, which of course includes Mali, Niger and Central Africa is permeating and creeping into Nigeria.

“Talking about banditry, ISWAP and all of that, all these agents of instability that are carrying out activities in the Sahel region have a way of finding themselves through our porous borders into Nigeria.

“So, one by geography as neighbours to Niger Republic is part of the problem and secondly being neighbour to Zamfara, the epicentre of banditry and kidnapping in the Northwest.

“And to a large extent, especially recently, the inability of the security agents or agencies to coordinate their efforts and operations in Zamfara against our own advice by governors of eight states.

“We have met the president several times in the last three, four years. We even advised Service Chiefs that whenever you decide to undertake this large scale operation, let it be simultaneous.

“Have a blocking force in parts of Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, Katsina and Sokoto, and carry out the operations simultaneously. They did not do that.

“Secondly, the timing for operation at the peak of the rainy season. One is that the forest is thick; two is that the military and other security agencies do not have the equipment that can move into those difficult terrains. That also did not help matters.

“So, whenever they carry out an operation and attack on the bandits in the camps, they pander towards states that are close to Zamfara.

“Instead of the security agencies to get them and do away with them in Zamfara, they disperse them into our state. And most of those that came in to attack our people are as a result of those operations recently.

“Another also is the fact that as I said before, they do not have enough manpower, firepower and equipment to carry out the operations.

“So, it is not as if it was about the people of Sokoto State. It is more to do with the situation of our neighbours.”

Tambuwal said his administration has been synergising with the security agencies to address the security challenges.

He commended the security agencies for their efforts in that regard.

“We do the much we can and we are still doing a lot because there was never a time any of the agencies approached us for support without getting it.

“In the last four, five years, we had given out not less than 500 vehicles to security services in Sokoto State. It is on record. How many states have done that?

“And as I said, we pay them their allowances from our coffers; we are up to date in paying those allowances. I believe you can check what I am going to tell you.

“We have refurbished all the divisional police headquarters. We are building about 12 new ones for them.

“So, we have given them every support. We are not sleeping; we have a standing committee that was established under his Eminence (you know he is a retired General), that is also working on the issue of security in the state.

“We hold regular security meetings. Even two, three days ago, we held one when we took a decision on outlawing self-styled vigilante groups because they were part of the problems in Zamfara State,” the Sokoto governor said.

 

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