Insecurity: Zamfara Emirs reject no-fly zone order


By Abba Gwale

Emirs in Zamfara on Tuesday rejected the no-fly zone order imposed in the state describing the order as unjust treatment.

The chairman of the Emirs and Emir of Anka, Alhaji Attahiru Muhammad Ahmad lamented this while addressing the new service chiefs led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, who were on an official visit to the state.

The emirs said Zamfara had no airport to warrant the declaration, insisting that there were states worst hit by armed banditry but that were not declared no-fly zones.

“There is no connection between mining and armed banditry. We have no evidence that aircraft are coming to provide weapons to bandits or that miners are giving arms to bandits. On two occasions, bandits had attacked mining companies, abducted staff and policemen and confiscated their guns.

“In the same vein, on the very day Jangebe schoolgirls were abducted, armed men attacked Sabuwar Tunga, a village located on the border between Maru and Anka, killed 10 people and kidnapped more than 100 persons. This happened at a mining site.

“So we can see that there is no connection between mining and armed banditry,” he told the service chiefs

The emirs said artisanal mining activities in Zamfara had helped many jobless people, especially the IDP’s, adding that banning the activities would amount to inviting more problems for the communities.

“The people that matter in the defence of this nation are here. The state government had initiated dialogue with the bandits and it has greatly reduced the bloodshed in the state. Many markets that were hitherto closed are now open.

“We see dialogue as the way to go because if we make a comparison between the number of deployed troops to the state and the armed criminals in the forest, there is a problem. There is no way the deployed troops can handle the number of armed bandits in our forests.

“We don’t think the soldiers in the state, including the police are up to 10,000, but I can tell you that these criminals are more than 30,000 in the forests and have sophisticated weapons.

“I am not a soldier, but I sympathise with our armed forces because they are lacking the modern warfare gadgets,” the emir said on behalf of his colleagues.

Governor Matawalle also sided with the emirs and reaffirmed that there was no empirical evidence to prove there was a connection between armed banditry and mining in the state.

“The theory that armed banditry is aimed at controlling Zamfara gold resource does not hold water. My administration has facilitated the arrest of many foreign nationals, especially Chinese, engaged in illegal mining activities,” he said.

He said his government would support any move that would end armed banditry not just in Zamfara but in the whole of the North West, adding that the troops should go out and hunt armed men not willing to surrender.

In his speech, General Irabor said the service chiefs were in Zamfara to assess the security situation and meet the troops of Operation Hadarin Daji.

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