Zamfara killings: Security agencies failed us – Governor Abdulaziz Yari.

“I feel let down facing the people of this state whenever I remember the promise I made to them that when they elect President Buhari into power, these killings will end. But unfortunately things are now getting worse”

Governor Abdul Azeez Yari of Zamfara state.

February 17, 2018

Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State has accused security agencies in the country of failing to prevent killings in his state despite alerting them about an impending attack 24 hours before the recent invasion of communities in Zurmi Local Government Area of the state, which resulted in the death of 39 persons.

Speaking on Friday evening when he led five northern governors on a sympathy visit to the palace of the Emir of Zurmi, Yari noted that security agencies in the area failed to tackle the problem of cross-border banditry and terrorism affecting communities in the area.

“Whatever was 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 if they elected President Muhammadu Buhari into power, these killings would 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 put the matter in our hands, anarchy will reign, which is not what we hope for.

“On this particular incident, 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.”

But the Emir of Zurmi, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, said if not for the bravery of vigilante groups who confronted the bandits, more people would have been killed.

Abubakar said 600 bandits had attempted to invade Zurmi before they were repelled by vigilantes.

He said, “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 appeals to security agencies to storm the area, our appeals have failed.

“I need to state here that majority of the weapons used by bad people in this country are brought in from this area. I had reason to personally inform Zamfara State’s Director of the Department of State Services sometime back of a large cache of weapons being brought into the country but no concrete action was taken until the containers were moved away.”

Meanwhile, prominent Nigerians and groups have berated the Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulazeez Yari, over his handling of the killings in the state.

Groups and individuals, including the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere; Senator Kabir Marafa (Zamfara Central) and the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, in separate interviews on Friday, said Yari was not compassionate.

Yari chaired a meeting of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum on Wednesday night. He attended the meeting of the National Economic Council on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. He was one of the governors who visited President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday to condole with him over the death of two of his relatives.

The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, accused the governor of laxity.

He said, “If you remember, it was the day after the burial of 73 people in Benue that the governor and his colleagues went to endorse Buhari for a second term. It may appear that the blood of Nigerians is the carpet for their coronation.

“The President did not deem it fit to go to Benue where 73 people were killed on New Year’s Day, instead he went to Nasarawa where cows were killed. So, you can put two and two together. The apple of the governor is not falling far from the tree,” Odumakin stated.

Also Marafa accused Yari of laxity in managing the security crisis in Zamfara State. He said Yari was paying more attention to the NGF as its chairman than Zamfara where he was elected to govern.

He further alleged that the Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (retd.), is from Zamfara but there was a “conspiracy of silence” on the attacks in the state.

Marafa said, “Why are people not talking? Why is the state House of Assembly not addressing this issue?

“Definitely, some people have to be brought to book. He was voted to be the governor, not the Chairman of the NGF.

“If he is not in charge, he should summon the courage to come out and say ‘this issue is beyond me, Mr. President I want your help.’”

Marafa stated that he would continue to raise the alarm on the security crisis in the state, alleging that the gunmen were known to officials of the state government.

He said, “I have been complaining but the state government always wants to sweep this thing under the carpet.

“I said (at the Senate) that there was a problem and I said Zamfara was under a siege and that the state government had banned all vigilante groups. People who are not security agents now walk about with arms.

“The governor keeps saying that he is spending money. Spending money on what, and why? What you see that just happened is not only in that community. Within the last three days, different communities were attacked in Zamfara. It is just that this one is bigger than others. There are killings and kidnappings going on in Zamfara on a daily basis and nothing is being done.

“Instead of him to sit down and face his problem, he is always in Abuja doing one thing or the other in the name of being the Chairman of the NGF.”

The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, equally came down hard on the Zamfara governor for not showing compassion to the victims.

It noted that Yari should have visited the families of the victims and condole with them instead of visiting Katsina on a purported condolence visit to the President.

CACOL Executive Director, Debo Adesina, said, “Yari did not show compassion to the victims and their families as expected of a leader.”

The Campaign for Democracy and the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights also knocked the governor for his seeming insensitivity to the plight of his people.

The CD President, Abdul Usman, said, “Such an action is wrong and the people must be wiser in the next elections in choosing leaders who have their best interest at heart.”

Also, the CDHR President, Malachy Ugwummadu, said, “We have seen presidents of countries, ministers and state actors cancelling state functions and even international engagements on account of a devastating situation back home.

“Now we talk about 41 persons who died in an avoidable disaster in one state. What is the state of the governor’s conscience and how does he react to the plight of his people?”

Also, a Northern elder statesman, Dr Junaid Mohammed, said these people’s death should be a source of worry to all Nigerians and the President himself.

He said, “The governor is the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and I have warned him personally not to take other people’s responsibilities on his head, while his own responsibilities suffer.

“It is clear to me and to the vast majority of Nigerians by now that this is not a listening government. This is a government which came to mess itself and the country up. We now have a clear picture of what really bothers the Federal Government and the Presidency.

“It is unfortunate that this Federal Government started thinking about second term almost days after it was sworn into office in 2015.”

The President of the Middle Belt Youth Council, Emma Zopmal, described the killings in Zamfara State as unfortunate.

He stated, “Buhari’s government plays politics with killings in other states especially those that enacted anti-open grazing laws, accusing them of not accommodating strangers. Now, how can the Federal Government explain the killings in Zamfara State?

“This clearly shows how nepotistic, clueless and inefficient his government can be. This situation will get worse with another Buhari in power beyond May 2019. Nigerians should wake up and vote out Buhari or expect to be sleeping in the bush like the Fulani if they mistakenly vote him back.”

The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Alhaji Muhammadu Biu, called on security operatives to halt the series of attacks across the country.

He said, “The bloodletting in the states, in form of bandits attack and herders/farmers clashes, has assumed a dangerous dimension which must be tackled head-on by the security agencies.

“Federal Government’s decision to deploy troops in troubled states is, therefore, a welcome development.

“ACF extends its condolences and sympathy to the bereaved families and the government of Zamfara State over this ugly incident.”

The factional President of Ijaw Youth Council, Eric Omare, said the continued killings in different parts of the country, including Zamfara, indicated that the current administration of Buhari had failed.

Omare explained that the situation in the country, where the lives of Nigerians appear to be worthless, had degenerated under the watch of the current government.

He said, “Under the leadership of President Buhari, the lives of Nigerians no longer mean anything. Every day, what we read in the newspapers is death here and there. It is unfortunate. One of the primary responsibilities of government is to protect lives and property. This government in that respect has failed woefully.”

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