Yari Offers to Step Down over Banditry in Zamfara

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Abdulaziz Yari
  • Police deploy more units in Katsina

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

Barely 24 hours after 18 persons were killed in two communities by bandits in Zamfara State, Governor Abdulaziz Yari, Thursday in Abuja reiterated his support for call for declaration of state of emergency in the state, saying he was willing to vacate his seat if it would end insecurity in the state.

The offer by Yari is coming as the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, approved the deployment of additional police units and manpower to beef up security in Katsina State, following the alarm raised by Governor Aminu Masari that gunmen were overrunning his domain.

Yari, who is also the Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), made this declaration after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the State House.

He denied insinuations that his earlier declaration of support for the state of emergency was a mere political statement.

According to him, such expression of support for emergency declaration in Zamfara State was not politically-motivated, saying inasmuch as human lives are at stake, undertaking such adventure would be worthwhile if that would provide solution to the protracted banditry which had claimed several lives in the state.

The governor said, “Yes, we are there as a government because it is the lives of people we are talking about. If there are no lives, we won’t be there. So, therefore, I did not make that statement out of politics because the way some other people are looking at it is political.

“Since my inception, I have never taken insecurity as a political affair, but I look at it as criminality and I approach it in the way that it can be solved.

“Some other politicians have been calling for state of emergency since three years ago. Then I said to myself if state of emergency would solve the problem then Yari is ready to vacate my seat.”

On why he visited the president again yesterday, Yari said he was in the State House to brief Buhari on security update in Zamfara State.

He also said he had come up with security report on events in the state in collaboration with stakeholders, which he said could be useful to security agencies on the crisis rocking the state through the intervention of the president.

He said, “You are aware of what is happening in Zamfara State, and some parts of the neighbouring states on the issue of banditry, abduction and insurgency.

“So, it is important that I come forward to brief Mr. President on the situation on the ground, which I just did.

“We sat down as head of security in the state along with all other stakeholders, where we reviewed the situation and came with the report that we think will help the security agencies there through Mr. President to strategise so that they can curb the problem.”

Asked to comment on security situation in the state, Yari said there was relative calm, pointing out that with all the support given to security agents so far, the crisis could be nipped in the bud if only they are willing to live up to their responsibilities.

According to him, “The situation is calm now. As a state, we are putting our best to ensure normalcy returns. We have started getting results.

“We believe strongly with what we have on ground in terms of the number of security personnel, if they take their job seriously, within a short time, we will get out of this situation and we hope with encouragement from the president, we believe with no time, the issues will be a thing of the past.”

Asked whether he discussed the declaration of emergency with Buhari, he said, “Not at all.”

According to him, if the security agencies were serious, the insecurity in Zamfara State would be easily brought under control.

“There is no place being occupied by the armed bandits in Zamfara State. They live and operate in the forest. They strike and run. Most of the camps are known by locals,” he said.

Lamenting the lack of presence of police in many parts of the state, he said policemen redeployed from the state following Buhari’s directive had not been replaced.He said the president had directed that policemen who had spent three years and above be redeployed as a strategy to address crime in the state.

Bandits have held sway in Zamfara State for months killing and maiming hundreds of innocent citizens, whose livestock are rustled with little opposition from law enforcement agencies.

The bandits have continued to elude security measures put in place by both the state and federal governments.

Months earlier, Yari resigned as Chief Security Officer of the state, saying he had become powerless and could no longer discharge the responsibility of that office.

He had also called on the federal government to save the lives of his people.

According to him, he had no control over security machinery in the state.

Yari had last week expressed support for the declaration of state of emergency to tackle the widespread killings in the North-west state, saying some politicians had suggested the idea on the assumption that he was afraid to lose his office.

Police Deploy More Units in Katsina

Meanwhile following the alarm raised by Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State that gunmen were overrunning his domain, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, has approved the deployment of additional police units and manpower to beef up security in the state. The approval was secured yesterday according to the state police command’s spokesman, Mr. Gambo Isah.

He told journalists at the state police command headquarters in Katsina, “As I am talking to you now, an additional three units of mobile police are on their way to Katsina State. The approval was given by the Inspector General of police.

“The units will be in addition to the three counter-terrorism units that are already on the ground and who have been deployed in the front line local government areas in the state that share boundaries with Zamfara State.

“We also have the IG Special task forces on the ground, to take the fight to the bandits inside the bush.”

Isah maintained that the police and other security units in the state were doing their best to curtail banditry, kidnapping and other security challenges.

He agreed that there were security challenges in the eight frontline councils with Zamfara State, insisting that many councils in the state have not recorded cases of armed robbery and other security challenges in recent times.

The police spokesman added, “Our Commissioner of police here, CP Muhammed Wakili, takes the issue of security of the state seriously and times without number he has personally led the patrol of grey areas. On Wednesday night, for instance, a few minutes after midnight, he personally drove himself from the police headquarters and went around town before retiring home that night, just to monitor the security situation. This, he carries out on several occasions.’’

It was also learnt that as part of strategies to fully tackle the banditry and kidnappings, over 500 conventional policemen in the state recently underwent a one-month combat training at the 27 Mobile Police headquarters.

Isah disclosed that recent police efforts in the state had led to the arrest of over 100 suspected kidnappers and the recovery of 30 assorted weapons among, which were 10 AK 47 rifles.

Governor Masari had on Wednesday conveyed an extraordinary security meeting in Katsina where he disclosed that the state was under the siege of banditry, kidnapping, and armed robbery.

“The citizens are on daily basis being harassed by bandits and kidnappers that are on rampage in the state,” he told the bewildered participants, adding, “The Katsina Government organised this one-day joint security and stakeholders meeting to proffer solutions to the state’s current insecurity challenge.” He stated for emphasis, “Our state is currently under serious siege by armed robbers, kidnappers and armed bandits, who arrest rural people at the grassroots at will and demand ransom, which if not paid, they kill their victims.

“The people of Katsina in the 34 local governments now sleep with one eye closed and the other opened.

“Our state is in a dangerous situation. Travellers are afraid of being stopped on the highway and arrested by kidnappers who demand ransom.” Masari said the situation was so bad that some thieves stole some electrical equipment near the Government House at the Government Reserved Area (GRA) in Katsina.

“I am calling on all stakeholders to come out with solutions that will assist the security agencies to discharge their duties,” he said