Banditry: Seven Zamfara Emirs under security watch
NO fewer than seven Emirs in Zamfara State believed to have links to bandits involved in the rising insecurity plaguing the state are currently being closely watched by security operatives.
At the core of the suspected involvement of the Emirs in banditry is illegal gold mining in their domains which, it is gathered, they may be profiting from.
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, had recently declared that some highly placed traditional rulers in the restive communities were assisting bandits to perpetrate crimes.
The minister accused the concerned traditional rulers of compromising military operations and warned them of dire consequences should they continue to aid bandits to commit grievous crimes against innocent Nigerians.
But the council of traditional rulers in Zamfara State under the leadership of the Emir of Anka, Alhaji Attahiru Ahmed, challenged the minister to name such Emirs that were helping bandits in their domains.
However, informed sources told Saturday Tribune that three of the seven Emirs that have been placed under surveillance by the security authorities are first class traditional rulers.
The security source told Saturday Tribune that covert security agents have been detailed to track the activities of the affected Emirs around the clock and leave no stone unturned in establishing their levels of involvement in banditry in their respective domains with a view to bringing them to justice.
“No one will be spared, I assure you. Enough of this bloodbath,” the source said.
One of the suspected first class Emirs is said to have only recently given away one of his daughters in marriage “and the wedding was attended by some known bandits.”
A source disclosed that the musician that sang at the event came from Niger Republic and was equally close to the bandits.
The source disclosed that a proof of the traditional ruler’s fraternity with bandits also came to light recently with the kidnap of a popular nutritionist’s wife in the emirate.
According to the source, the Emir saw to the eventual release of the abducted woman after placing a direct call to the bandits and giving them instructions.
Another one of the first class Emirs, it was learnt, is rich and influential and very well connected.
A source alleged that the Emir was responsible for the inability of security agents to arrest some bandits who had recently planned an attack in the emirate by warning the hoodlums of a planned security invasion of their hideout.
The source said that plans to arrest the bandits had been perfected but the bandits were tipped off and fled before the security agents could raid their camp.
It was learnt that the development created a shock in security circle which saw many security agents agreeing that a serious mole was the one who gave them and their plans away to the bandits.
According to the source, after an analysis of the development, the security agents narrowed the focus of their investigation to the traditional ruler, who thereafter disappeared to Kaduna State for two weeks after discovering that he was being tracked.
Security operatives are still on the track of his movements, the source added.
The third top traditional ruler is alleged to have a relationship with the successor of Buharin Daji, notorious and dreaded head of a gang of bandits who was killed some time ago.
Although there is said to be insufficient evidence to nail the monarch over his involvement with the bandits, his constant communication with the criminals is said to be suspect.
Another affected Emir, a second class traditional ruler, was recently invited to Abuja to explain his alleged involvement in the rustling of cows in his emirate.
The traditional ruler is suspected of linking the bandits with stolen cattle buyers in neighbouring states like Kaduna, Kano and Katsina.
He has since returned to his emirate but it was gathered he is currently being watched by security agents.
The fifth Emir, also a second class traditional ruler, is believed to be directly involved with the bandits.
It was learnt that when some bandits were arrested recently, security operatives were able to obtain a recorded conversation between the bandits and some of the Emir’s close aides.
The remaining two second class rulers are said to be involved in illegal mining with bandits acting as their ‘business boys.’
Troops of the Operation Sharan Daji in the state had during the week arrested the vice chairman of Anka Local Government Area of the state, Mr Yahuza Wuya, for alleged link to bandits.
The acting Information Officer of the operation, Major Clement Abiade, who confirmed the arrest in a statement, said Wuya was picked up on April 13 based on intelligence linking him to bandits’ activities in Wuya and Sunke communities.
Abiade alleged that Wuya “seamlessly” assisted in selling stolen cows and donkeys as well as giving information about troops, other security agencies and vigilantes’ movement to the bandits.
The military officer also accused the suspect of aiding the release of a notorious gun runner (Sani Yaro) from the Gusau prison.
The state governor, Abdulaziz Yari, said 3,526 persons were killed by bandits in the state in the last five years.
Speaking, last weekend, during a town hall meeting attended by the acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, Yari said nearly 500 villages had also been devastated and 8,219 persons were injured, some are still in critical condition.
He also said that over 13,000 hectares of farmlands were either destroyed or made useless as farmers can no longer farm them.
“The economy of the state has seriously suffered because thousands of shops were destroyed by the rampaging bandits who had displaced thousands of our people from their places of abode, many of whom cannot sleep with their two eyes closed because of fear,” the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted the governor as saying.
Yari said the government had written volumes of reports containing over 7,000 pages, giving details of the crises right from the beginning to the infiltration from Libya and Boko Haram.
He stressed the need to neutralize eight prominent bandits’ camps in different bushes in the state in order to decimate the criminals.