Insecurity: Zamfara residents express hope for peace as Governor Dauda inaugurates new security Outfit

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Gov. Dauda

By Shehu Muhammed Shehu

Following the launch of members of the Zamfara State Community Protection Guard (ZSCPG) by the state Governor Dauda Lauwa, the residents of Zamfara state, Northwest Nigeria,  have shared their joy and expectations about the governor’s effort to end the persistent insurgency in the state.

The prolonged insurgency in the troubled state in Northwest Nigeria had claimed the lives of hundreds of people and forced thousands to flee from their houses, while countless numbers of animals were rustled in the state by cattles wrestlers .

According to The Cable lndex report on security in Nigeria, in 2023 alone Zamfara has recorded the highest number of abductions, with 854 victims and fourth in the states topped the list of killings in Nigeria with 421.

A university lecturer, Murtala Ahmad Rufa’i in a public lecture delivered at Usmanu Danfodiyo university, Sokoto, in 2021, revealed that there were more than 120 bandits gangs operating across Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Niger and Kaduna states each gang with more than 500 AK-47 rifles in possession.

Aliyu Sani Sk, who hails from Tsafe local government area of the state while speaking with this reporter, said he was so excited with the decision taken by the governor. He recalled how previous administrations in the state tried their best to end the decade of bloodshed in the state but they didn’t succeed.

“We are happy with the way the state government decided to inaugurate a community protection guard. The 12 years of bloodshed is unbearable as all two former governors of the state did what they could to settle the matter but did not succeed. Now the current administration came in with another ideology” Aliyu said anxiously

He said they support and lauded  the decision of the governor to tackle the banditry activities, adding that they were optimistic that the new security outfit will succeed in reducing or even eliminating of banditry and criminal activities across the state as the Katsina state governor did the same and there has been a security improvement in the state already.

Like Aliyu, Alh Bello Ibrahim Gusau, from Gusau, the capital city of the state, couldn’t hide his happiness over the inauguration of the security guard to fight insecurity in the state.

“I was so excited with the inauguration of Zamfara State Community Protection Guard as it is a tool for eradicating bandits and banditry activities in Zamfara State” Ibrahim said.

He said he was optimistic that the Guard could bring the end of banditry to the state as, according to him, they knew every nook and cranny of the state. He noted that the Guards will fight the bandits in their hideout and fish them out.

Ibrahim, however, disclosed that besides the inauguration of ZMCPG, the government and people of the state should embark on praying for the guard to succeed in carrying out their duties and protection against any evil plan. He advised the government to make sure it pays the Guard their monthly salary promptly so as to encourage them to discharge their duty effectively.

Bashir Aliyu from Shinkafi local government, said it was indeed a welcome development.

Aliyu, however, called on the government to find the root causes of the problem in order to proffer a for a lasting solution  as banditry has devastated the state for quite a long time.

How Banditry Started In Zamfara

A research conducted by Dr Murtala Rufa’i, lecturer at Usmanu Danfodiyo, Sokoto who traced the history of banditry in Zamfara, shows that the banditry started in Zamfara long before the arrival of colonial masters.

The menace of insecurity began to become tedious in 2011 when the first armed group led by Kundu and the notorious Buharin Daji both of Fulani background emerged and named the group Kungiyar Gayu, meaning an association of young guys, even though none of them was a youth. The public referred to them as Kungiyar Barayin Shanu, (cattle rustlers association).

When the problem persisted and became worse from cattles rustling to killing and kidnapping, in 2018 the former governor of the state, Abdul’aziz Yari recruited about 8,500 vigilants (Yan sa-kai)  and provided them bikes, all in his effort to combat banditry activities in the state.

Furthermore, the activities of vigilantes were banned in the state when the immediate past governor of the state Bello Muhammad came on power In 2019 after they were accused of fueling the crisis, by killing innocent people and taking revenge on Fulani communities in the state.

Subsequently, the governor reconciled with the leaders of the bandits gangs in the state where peace was restored for a while before the bandits continued carrying out their criminal activities and scattered everything.

The present governor, Dauda Lawal on Wednesday 31 January, 2024, inaugurated the first phase of 2,646 members of Community Protection Guards as part of his commitment to curb the banditry activities in the state where they received rigorous training from relevant security agencies.

Inaugurating the newly recruited vigilants in Gusau the capital city of the state, Governor Lauwal said he believed that with launching of the Community Protection Guard, fighting against banditry activities in the state would improve and the peace would surely be restored.

What Experts Say?

Murtala Abdullahi, a security and defense analyst, said the initiative was a wise decision as it can complement security forces by providing crucial intelligence support. He stressed that there should be tight policies to ensure that the vigilants do not become a problem and assume roles that are beyond them, warning that lessons learnt from other issues that were created by Yan Sa-kai.

Martala also admonished the authorities to limit their role in intelligence support while they strengthen law enforcement capabilities. In addition to addressing issues around justice and development.

He, similarly, suggested that more efforts are needed to curb the source of weapons, funds and recruitment. In this regard, the Federal government needs to readjust its overall strategy for the region in collaboration with states to ensure a multidomain and cohesive response.

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