THE Emir of Anka, who is also the Chairman of the Zamfara State Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Attahiru Ahmad, has again taken a swipe at the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, for accusing traditional rulers of aiding banditry.
The traditional ruler, who stated this in an exclusive interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday, said the minister ought to have been fired by President Muhammadu Buhari for making this allegation.
The emir, who described the minister’s allegation as serious, said Dan-Ali, who hails from Birnin Magaji Local Government Area of Zamfara State, ought to have relocated to his local government as part of efforts to tackle banditry.
He said, “It is very unfortunate for the defence minister to accuse us of aiding banditry. If it were in another country, the minister would have been fired because it is a very serious allegation. He said it was not only the traditional rulers in Zamfara that were aiding the bandits but even those in other parts of the North. But we kept quiet because he is our own. Go to his local government area and see what is happening. So, as a defence minister, he should have relocated there.”
The traditional ruler expressed disappointment with the performance of some newspapers (not The PUNCH) which reported that the Zamfara emir made a U-turn on their allegations that the Nigerian Air Force mistakenly killed innocent people during its operations against bandits.
Ahmad stated, “They (journalists) said I made a “U-turn.” There wasn’t any time I made any U-turn and I was surprised that this came from a reputable media organisation. When the military officers came here on a visit, they mentioned it frankly that I was sincere with them and they were all in a sober mood. There was nothing wrong with our statement. All we said was that mistakes could happen.
“It happened everywhere in the world. It happened in America, England and other countries. There were some mistakes during military operations in some of our villages. So it is not a denial. Anybody can come and see what we are saying. It is something that can be seen. You can see the damage, and we have people who lost their relations. They are there for questioning. We asked the soldiers to come and we would take them to places where this happened.
“Even you as a journalist, if you want to go, I will direct you to Tangram and you will see the damage and you can interview the relatives of those killed. The same thing happened in Dungurum area of Zurmi Local Government. It happened in Gusau and Tsafe local government areas too.”
However, the emir commended the Federal Government for deploying troops to the state to combat banditry.
But he noted that the troops deployed were not adequate.
Ahmad stated, “I have already explained that I have an able officer deployed in my domain. The only hindrance is that the troops deployed here are very few in number and have no required equipment to fight the bandits. Nevertheless, the leader of the team acts promptly and very fast whenever there is a problem.”
According to him, the soldiers are seriously inadequate, “not only in my domain, but in the whole state.”
Bandits will attack towns if FG fails to rescue us
Ahmad appealed to the Federal Government to act “as quickly as possible by coming to our rescue because if nothing is urgently done, there is going to be human tragedy in Zamfara.”
The monarch added, “These bandits will one day come to the major towns to attack people if they are not effectively controlled. With the number of the bandits and their sophisticated weapons, I think they can attack any local government headquarters. So, we are appealing for deployment of more soldiers.”
According to him, the bandits have enough money to get whatever they want.
He stated, “Because if you have money in Nigeria, you can get anything you want. So these bandits are very rich.
“For example, if they abduct a person, they will collect up to N5m ransom or even N10m and the money will be paid in a maximum of two weeks. So by the time they are collecting N5m from one person, others are also waiting to pay for the release of their brothers.”
If you force herders out of business, they’ll fight back – Miyetti Allah
Meanwhile, the Kajuru chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria has warned that herders will fight back if they are forced to abandon their trade (cattle rearing).
The MACBAN’s chairman, Musa Aliyu Ardo, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the sidelines of a capacity-building workshop on conflict prevention in Kaduna on Thursday, insisted that herders were peace-loving people who co-existed with other ethnic groups.
The workshop, which was organised by the Office of the Vice-President, was aimed at tackling the herders/farmers’ clashes in the state. It was funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.
Ardo said, “We want peace in Kajuru. We are law-abiding citizens. Herders’ are preoccupied with their trade. Herders’ are not farmers. Herders’ business is in the bush where they rear their cattle. Any herdsman indulging in kidnapping, armed robbery is not a true Fulani.
“Rearing cattle is the average herders’ means of livelihood. We have no Western education. Any attempt to separate us from our cattle, means depriving us from our source of livelihood. This is unacceptable and will be resisted. The herder co-exists with all ethnic groups but once he is forced out of his trade; his rights to living trampled, he will be forced to fight back.”
Also, speaking with The PUNCH, the spokesman for the Birnin-Gwari Emirate Council, Alhaji Zubair Abdurra’uf (Dan-Masanin Birnin-Gwari), expressed concern over the spate of kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry in the area.
He said should the federal and state governments failed to act, food crisis would be triggered “because farmers can no longer go to their farms again as such there is bound to be food crisis, not only in Birnin-Gwari but in the entire northern Nigeria being confronted by this insecurity.”
Abdurra’uf added, “As far as we are concern, we suffered more than Zamfara State in terms of the activities of kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery.”
He noted that the people of Birnin-Gwari were traumatised as a result of the activities of bandits such that “we can no longer sleep.”
Earlier in her opening remarks, the Advisor on Rule of Law to the Vice-President, Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi, said the farmer-herders’ crisis had become one of Nigeria’s biggest security challenges.
Waziri-Azi, who lamented that the crisis had been in existence for decades, added that it significantly worsened between 2014 and 2019.
Waziri-Azi said it was based on this that the Federal Government in 2018 unveiled the National Livestock Transformation Plan, which she said, was a 10-year plan to tackle the crises in Zamfara, Kaduna, Benue, Maraba Plateau, Adamawa and Nasarawa states.
She said, “The plan is encompassing and is designed to support the government at all levels. It addresses peace and security, transformation and national growth and there are various entry points for all stakeholders to participate.” – Punch
– May 13, 2019 @ 10:05 GMT |