I have freed over 420 hostages from bandits without ransom ― Zamfara Governor
The Governor of Zamfara State, Dr Bello Mutawalle, Wednesday in New York revealed that since coming into power in May, his administration has freed over 420 hostages abducted by bandits in the state.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he said his policy of dealing directly with the bandits has produced results as he described the state as one of the most peaceful in the country as at now.
He has, therefore, advised his fellow governors whose states are in the throes of banditry to adopt similar strategies and be sure to be sincere.
He said: “When I took over the affairs of the state, I met a lot of challenges which made me to carefully study the scenario, which I did.
“I had to invite all the stakeholders to meet with them, discuss with them, to hear from both sides, the Fulanis and the Yan Sake, that is the vigilante group. I met with all of them and discussed the way forward.
“I have a lot of briefs about all the scenarios, which I intended to approach with all sincerity, which I have done.
“I saw that it was very important for the government to be fully involved in the dialogue and we have to be sincere in the dialogue. We have done that and we have achieved what we needed.
“We thank God that we have recorded a lot of successes from all the angles, both from the vigilante group and the Fulani group.
“Before I came, there were a lot of people in captivity. Some had spent about seven months, including some foreign nationals, Koreans, Nigeriens, Ghanaians, but along the line, during my time, I have secured their release without paying any ransom, without any conditions. So, I thank God for that.
“What I have put at the back of my mind is that I don’t need to play blame games. Blaming this one or that one doesn’t make any sense. All we want to do is to concentrate on the good work we are doing and we are doing that.
“We thank God that as at today, Zamfara is one of the peaceful states in Nigeria.”
On the specific number of hostages freed under his government so far, he added: “As at today because yesterday (Tuesday), we had another set of people that were freed, about 30 of them, 15 men 15 women.
“In fact, one of the women was taken four months pregnant. But now, she has delivered and the baby has now started crawling. We have secured their release.
“Now, we have about 420 that we have freed without ransom. We have already started disarmament and we have received a lot of sophisticated weapons now in the possession of the Commissioner of Police and other agencies.
“We have recorded a lot of success and we are going to continue like that because Nigeria is our country. We have to make sure we secure our people and our boundaries.”
Governor Mutawalle advised fellow North West Governors to negotiate directly with bandits in their state with sincerity.
According to him: “What I will advise my colleagues is to be sincere in all the dealings. They have to do direct contact without intermediaries. They should be talking to the bandits directly and they have to listen to them every minute. They don’t have to give any gap. They have to follow them step by step.
“And these people, they need to know your seriousness, they need to be talking to you anytime they want to. Sometimes, things will happen and they won’t know who to talk to.
“I am open to them and my phone is always 24 hours in action. So, if anything happens, they will call me and I will respond to that with immediate effect.
“So, they (governors) need to do that. If they do that, they will succeed as I have succeeded.”
The Zamfara Governor assured that his trip to the United States would attract investors in agriculture and mining for the benefit of the people of the state.
He added: “You know my state, Zamfara is blessed with abundant mineral resources and agriculture. So, am here to showcase what we have to other investors.
“And we have started talking to most of these investors with some of them showing interest to go into agriculture and mining. At the end of the day, we are going to make public all the benefits and investors we will get from here.
“I assure my people that we will get the best of it and I will put into consolidation all discussions.”