Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, on Thursday said his administration pulled out of dialogue with bandits because they were deceptive. He said the bandits did not honour a peace agreement.
Matawale told reporters at the State House, Abuja, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, that relative peace had returned to the state.
According to him, the state government had been steadfast in the fight against banditry and that the people were seeing results.
Among other measures, telecommunication operations were shut down in the state.
Asked whether dialogue was no longer an option, Matawale said: “They have deceived us. Some of them did not follow what we agreed with them. We thought it was something we could continue with them, but we later realised that they had deceived us. So, we had to back out of it and decide to fight them to a logical conclusion.
“As you know, we are there fighting and we have taken a lot of measures in order to curtail this problem of insurgency and we thank God it’s yielding a lot of results. We’ve recorded a lot of successes from what we have done.
“As you are aware, we have a lot of security personnel that were deployed to Zamfara State and they are working seriously.”
He believes the state is “calm and people are going on with their day-to-day activities”.
He added: “We have imposed a lot of measures and the people are happy with the measures because the people had suffered a lot.
“People were being killed and kidnapped every day, but today we have succeeded, we don’t have much of such issues in Zamfara State.”
Also Thursday, 10-year research by a lecturer at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Dr. Murtala Ahmed Rufa’i, revealed that over 120 bandits groups were terrorising Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kabbi, Kaduna and Niger.
The report says each group possessed no less than 500 AK-47 and AK-49 rifles.
The research report titled; ‘I Am A Bandit’ says the gangs had in the last 10years killed over 12,000 people and stolen about 250,000 livestock.
Rufa’i, a History Lecturer, who presented the paper at the 15th Usmanu Danfodiyo University Seminar said, some of the gangs like that of Gide, Mai-Taguwa and Turji own sophisticated weapons like RPGS and Anti-Aircraft.
Tracing the origin of banditry in Zamfara to 2011, the University don said the crime started as a traditional farmer-herder conflict or insignificant rural unrest, transforming into full-blown conflict, engulfing most parts of the Northwest.
He said: “The first criminal gang was formed by Kundu and Buharin Daji. It grew from a single cell, mainly in operation in Zamfara in 2011, to over one hundred and twenty (120) gangs across six states in 2021.
“These gangs are basically associated with mass killing of innocent people, cattle rustling, kidnapping, gender based and sexual violence (GBSV) and other related human rights abuses.”
“At the beginning, they lived in the woods and mountainous areas, from where they unleashed terror on the rural and urban areas in the states.
“Some of the bandits have become very daring to the extent of operating from their respective villages. Approximately, over 10,000 armed bandits are operating across different parts of Zamfara state. These gangs have so far killed over 12,000 people and stole about 250,000 livestock from 2011 to 2021.”
“About 120 villages were destroyed while 50,000 people were either internally displaced or made refugees in the neighbouring Niger Republic.”