According to Sahara Reporters, Bandits operating along Shinkafi/Sokoto Road in Zamfara State have claimed that officials of Zamfara and Sokoto State governments provide them with information with which they strike and evade arrest by military. The bandits disclosed this during a peace meeting with popular Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, on Tuesday at Makkai forest.
The meeting was in continuation of the peace moves by Sheikh Gumi. It was not the first time the Islamic cleric would be meeting with suspected bandits to request for a peace deal. About three weeks ago, over 500 bandits reportedly agreed to lay down their weapons in Kaduna after he struck a peace deal with them.
A source at the Tuesday meeting disclosed that the gunmen claimed officials of both Zamfara and Sokoto State governments provide information on movements of troops and other operational activities discussed during security meetings to them. The gunmen also accused the Nigerian government of not being sincere in ending instances of banditry and kidnappings.
“They said they have informants in Zamfara and Sokoto State governments giving them information and that the military can’t arrest them,” the source said.
States in the North-West region have in the last 10 years faced devastating attacks from armed bandits. Almost 70,000 people have fled the region since April 2019. According to the International Crisis Group, 11,000 people have died since 2011. Many deaths, particularly in Fulani communities however go unreported. Several army operations have been launched by the Nigerian government, but most have been largely ineffective.
Some state governments in the region have resorted to signing controversial and secret peace agreements with the gunmen to stop the killings. But despite the accords, communities in such states are still being attacked and residents kidnapped and killed.
Meanwhile, Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, has stated that for peace to reign across the country, the Federal Government and security agencies need to arrest the leadership of Miyetti Allah. Governor Ortom who spoke during a meeting in his state on Wednesday, said the members of the group have owned up to carrying out nefarious activities and wondered why the Federal government is yet to act.
According to his words; ”This country belongs to all of us and the presidency must act fast because time is going. From North West, North East, North Central, South West, South East, South South, there is general insecurity and this is being perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen.
“I have made it a petition to the President and all security agencies before, that if they want peace, Miyetti Allah must be arrested. These are the people that are responsible for sponsoring Fulani herdsmen. They have taken responsibility that they kill, they maim, they rape and do all sorts of atrocities and yet their leadership is in Abuja and nobody is confronting them.
“When I talked, I was castigated. I was vilified. Nothing bad that wasn’t said about me. The reality is here now. It is not just happening to Benue state today. It is happening to the entire country. Why is the Federal government of Nigeria so silent about these Fulani herdsmen?’” Governor Ortom of Benue State stated during a meeting in the state.
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