•Says “we alerted them 24hours before killing but they failed to act
•Buhari orders for troops deployment, dispatches Defence Minister
•Atiku condemns killings
The Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari has blamed the Nigerian security agencies for the bloody violence visited upon the people of the state by armed bandits.
Yari alleged that his administration gave security agencies 24 hour head-start to alert them on the impending invasion of communities in the state by gun men that resulted in the death of almost 74 persons in parts of the state on Wednesday and Thursday night.
But the Governor was reported to have been absent from the state since the sad development but have chosen to stay back in Abuja. He eventually returned to the state on Friday.
Speaking Friday evening when he led five Northern Governors on a sympathy visit to the palace of the Emir of Zurmi, the Governor said security agencies in the area have failed to tackle the problem of cross border banditry and terrorism bedevilling communities in the area.
“Whatever humanly possible that needed to be done, we as a government have done to mitigate this disaster. But it does appear that security agencies are failing in their responsibilities.
“I feel let down facing the people of this state whenever I remember the promise I made to them that when they elect President Muhammadu Buhari into power, these killings will end. But unfortunately, things are now getting worse.
“As such, I urge you security agencies to up the ante so as not to lose this war. If you let us take issues on our hands, anarchy will reign which is not what we hope us.
“On this particular incidence, we had intelligence reports 24 hours before it happened that the bandits were grouping and ready to attack. I alerted the security agencies but unfortunately they sent inadequate personnel to confront these people from where they came from,” he said.
In his remarks, the Emir of Zurmi, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, echoed what Yari said, adding that if not for the bravery of vigilante groups who confronted the bandits, the casualty figures would have been higher.
Giving insight into what really happened, the Emir alleged that 600 bandits made attempt to invade Zurmi but were repelled by vigilantes.
“They came on 200 motorcycles with three persons on each bike. Each of them was well-armed. We stationed 500 vigilante members who stood their ground and gallantly fought the bandits. Unfortunately, these same bandits turned their anger on travellers and other villagers on their way here, that was why we had 39 people killed.
“These terrorists are known to us. Their major hideout is in a village called Kagara, very close to Bafarawa in Sokoto State, and a few kilometers from Shinkafi in Zamfara State. But despite several appeal to security agencies to storm the area, our appeals have failed.
“I need to state here that majority of weapons used by bad people in this country are brought in from this area. I had reason to personally inform Zamfara State Director of SSS sometimes back of a large cache of weapons being brought into the country but no concrete action was taken until the containers were moved away.
“I am happy that other Northern Governors are here because we believe the solution to this problem lies in cooperation among all of you.
“I don’t need to repeat here that we need a full battalion of soldiers here and in areas surrounding Maru, Maradun, Shinkafi and Zurmi LGAs,” the visibly angry Emir said.
He added that the people have been pushed to the limit and a negative reaction from them will have devastating consequence on the continued peaceful coexistence of all communities in the area.
In his remarks, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno appealed to the people not to lose patience. He sympathized with the victims and prayed to God to grant the deceased eternal rest.
In addition to Shettima and Yari, other Governors on the entourage were Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi and Umar Tanko Al-Makura of Nassarawa States.
Buhari deploys troops, Atiku condemns killings
In response, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Daura, his country home, condemned the recent massacre of over 40 innocent persons in Birane village, Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
Buhari also ordered for troops deployment and Defence Minister, Brig-Gen. Muhammad Mansur Dan-Ali dispatched to the troubled state.
The President also in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, commiserated with families of victims of the heinous crime and directed security agencies to immediately mobilise and deploy operatives to vulnerable areas of the state, and ensure that perpetrators face the full wrath of the law.
He assured Zamfara State Government, victims of the mayhem and residents of the state that the federal government would do all it takes to support security agencies with view to securing lives and property, not only in the affected state but across the country.
“President Buhari restates his administration’s determination to put an end to the spate of senseless spilling of innocent blood in parts of the country, and calls for restraint to allow the nation’s security apparatus to stem the undesirable trend. The President prays that almighty God will receive the souls of the departed, and comfort their families,” the statement added.
Reports also revealed that a number of strategic military actions had been approved by the President to curtail the killings in Zamfara.
The source said: “The President has approved that the army division in Sokoto be upgraded to a full Brigade, which means that there will be more soldiers for the formation. The battalion in Gusau will be upgraded to a full Brigade and one of the battalions under the Brigade will be composed of Special Forces. The Battalion in Katsina is being upgraded to a full Brigade.”
In the same vein, ormer Vice President Atiku Abubakar has also condemned the latest massacre in Zamfara State during which scores of innocent people were forced out of their vehicles and brutally killed by unknown bandits.
Atiku in a press statement also decried the killings in Rivers, Kaduna, Benue, saying that he is appalled by the continued large scale destruction of human lives by criminal groups.
He said that he was concerned about the frequency of these hideous attacks by criminal gangs.
The former Vice President said that the ease with which criminal groups have access to dangerous weapons in the country is worrisome and disturbing.
“When human beings are falling like flies repeatedly, ambushed by savage mass murderers and killed in cold blood, I wonder what becomes of the sanctity of life”, he said.
Atiku urged for greater vigilance and stricter enforcement of ban on the proliferation small arms and other deadly weapons in the hands of criminals.
“Apart from identifying, arresting and prosecuting arms suppliers, there should be an intensification of efforts by our security personnel”.