• We must look inward to tackle banditry, says Yari

Deji Elumoye in Abuja Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto

The Senate has urged the federal government to deploy the helicopters of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) to carry out aerial surveillance of Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi States, with a view to identifying locations and hideouts of the bandits terrorising the states and deal with them.

This is coming as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulazeez Yari, has said the menace of banditry is an internal problem that requires collaborative efforts by the northern governors to tackle the ugly trend.

The Senate’s decision was sequel to a motion jointly sponsored and moved at the plenary yesterday, by Senators Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto North), on the gruesome killing of 40 people in Sokoto State by bandits on Monday.

The Senate also advised the Inspector General of Police, (lGP) Ibrahim Idris to mandate the Commissioners of Police in the three states to set up a special squad to mop up the whole zone and get rid of the bandits.
Similarly, the upper legislative chamber called for a synergy between the Department of State Services (DSS), the police and the armed forces in order to share intelligence and strategies to get rid of the criminals.
Senator Aliero, while leading debate on the motion, noted with sadness, the gruesome and unprecedented killing of the 40 innocent and defenceless people by the bandits at Dogonyero in Candi District in Raba Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.

He alleged that “these bandits are operating in Zamfara forest, where they carry out nefarious and barbaric killings of innocent people over a period of two years”.
The former Kebbi State governor added that “they moved with motorcycles that carried up to three people numbering about 30 motorcycles in all – meaning that the armed men were up to 90”.
“The bandits sent two people to the village to buy food for them and the villagers observed that the emissaries were armed and they were interrogated by the villagers and found to be bandits similar to the ones operating in Zamfara. The villagers apprehended and executed the two emissaries,” he said.
Senator Aliero further informed that the bandits sent advance notice to the villagers that they were coming to retaliate the killing of their people.

He added that the chairman of the local government area and the village head alerted the law enforcement agencies on this notice of the bandits.

“Security was provided for a period of five days, after which they were withdrawn; immediately the security agencies were withdrawn, the bandits moved in and started killing indiscriminately using AK47 riffles.

“The situation now is that most of the villagers have left their homes out of fear and many are still stranded in the bush – not to mention the injured ones still at the hospital and others rendered homeless”, the lawmaker said.
Contributing , Senator Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto Central) warned that if urgent steps are not taken by the government, the killings might spread to other districts.

He, therefore, called for the establishment of army depot in the area to forestall further reprisal.
Senator Abdullahi Danbaba (Sokoto South), on his part, lamented that attacks and counter attacks have been going on in the state for about seven years and urged the federal and state governments to find a lasting solution to the problem.

In observing one minute silence for the repose of the souls of the departed, the Senate requested the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to send emergency relief to the affected communities.
Meanwhile, Yari has said the menace of banditry was an internal problem that required the collaborative efforts by northern governors to tackle the ugly trend.

The Zamfara State governor made the remark when he led other five northern governors to pay a condolence visit to Governor Aminu Tambuwal at the Government House in Sokoto.
He maintained that the bandits and perpetrators of these heinous acts live within the communities, saying governors must look inwards to curb the wanton killings.

“We have to look inwards to find a solution to our problem. This problem is with
in us because the bandits creating this menace are within us. They cannot survive without drinking, eating and all the essential facilities needed for survival,” he said.

“So, how are they getting them? This is a chain that we need to check. We are seriously concerned because Sokoto has been relatively peaceful ,despite being a neighbouring state to Zamfara. This is indeed worrisome and a serious concern to all of us.

“Despite sabotage from within and outside, we know that as leaders, if we come together, we can achieve more in maintaining peace and harmony in our states,” he said.
He posited that the primary responsibility of government is to maintain peace and security, adding that such leaders must do more to combat banditry in their areas.
Yari said they were in the state to commiserate with the bereaved families and people of the state over the loss of lives of the 39 persons in Tabani village in the state.

He, therefore, prayed against future reoccurrence and God’s intervention in the affairs of the country.
Responding, Tambuwal, said this was the first time the bandits unleashed mayhem on the villages.
He described the attack as unfortunate, saying government was collaborating with security agencies to forestall future attack.

“These marauders entered Tabanni village from Zamfara killing 39 people without taking anything there. We currently have about 10,000 people that left their villages for safety in four internally displaced persons camp.
“We are in touch with the leadership of the security agencies in the country and in the next few days, more security personnel would be deployed to that axis,” he stated.