The Zamfara Council of Chiefs on Thursday said many innocent villagers have been killed in misdirected air strikes by the military in the ongoing fight against bandits in the state.
The Emir of Bungudu, Hassan Attahiru, made the disclosure at the end of an emergency meeting of the council, on Thursday in Gusau.
“The council noted that airstrikes undertaken by the military do not hit the main camps of the bandits.
“Reports from Mutu in Gusau and Tsafe Local government areas, Tangaram in Anka local government and Dumburum in Zurmi local area among others are that the areas shelled were not the actual hideouts of the bandits and the victims were innocent civilians,” he said.
The council said that efforts to end banditry in the state would only be achieved “if the main camps of the bandits are taken over and security personnel stationed there for a considerable period of time.
“This will deprive the bandits territory, mobility and supply routes, thus securing all surrounding areas.”
On the recent allegation of connivance with bandits by some traditional rulers made by Defence Minister, Mansur Dan’Ali, the council challenged the minister to immediately name the traditional rulers or withdraw the statement.
“Failure to do this will make his statement false and an attempt to tarnish the image of the traditional rulers and thereby making them scapegoats for the inability of the military and other security forces to end the scourge.”
The council maintained that the traditional rulers had always cooperated with government and security agencies in providing information on location, routes and names of persons engaged in such criminal activities.
“Unfortunately, the military and other security agencies have failed to be on top of the situation.
“We will not shield anyone and we will want any suspect however highly placed to be arrested and prosecuted,” the council maintained.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the state government had late last year suspended seven district heads with one other still on the run over alleged conspiracy with bandits in the state.
NAN also reports that the meeting, chaired by council chairman and Emir of Anka, Ahmad Muhammad, was attended by all the emirs in the state.