•Says they stockpiled 500 AK-47 rifles in one armoury
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, yesterday in Abuja said bandits terrorising the state were more equipped than the entire security forces deployed to combat their activities.
Yari, who made this disclosure while fielding questions from journalists in the State House after holding a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, said the bandits had stockpiled as many as 500 AK-47 rifles in only one of its armoury.
According to him, the stockpiling of such a volume of weapons became an open secret when a team comprising some people in the state met with the bandits during a dialogue session involving the Department of State Services (DSS), the army and police recently.
However, Yari said when they offered to grant them amnesty so that they could surrender their arms, they declined, adding that till date, the number of the rifles surrendered by them are not yet up to 90.
The governor, who is also the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), disclosed that the dialogue was at the instance of the bandits because it is easy to fish them out during dry season as against the rainy season when the forest would have been overgrown with plants.
He added that given the peculiar situation of the state now, dialogue remains the best solution to banditry in Zamfara State.
He said: “For instance, during the first dialogue, they invited some of our team, army, DSS, police, and my chief security officer as well as some representatives of traditional rulers and we have seen what they have.
“They are in control of the kind of weapons that the security command in Zamfara does not have. In one armoury alone, they have more than 500 AK 47 rifles. We saw it.
“Our people were even given the chance to take pictures. But when we said we will dialogue and offer them amnesty, if they surrendered their arms, they refused.
“I can tell you that till date we have not received up to 90 AK 47 rifles. So it is deceit. That is why I said no more dialogue during my tenure. During dry season, they try to get us to dialogue because they know the security forces can get to them anywhere in the forest and they would not have a place to hide.
“But when the rainy season comes and the forest becomes thicker they return to their normal practice. That is why I said there has to be a show of force before anything else. I know that in any war, eventually, you have to come to the table and dialogue, but at this point and given the situation we are in right now, dialogue is not needed.’’
Also yesterday, Buhari met with service chiefs including the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, behind closed-doors in the Presidential Villa.
In attendance were the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonishakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Abubakar Sadiq; National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd); Director-General of DSS, Alhaji Yusuf Bichi; Minister of Defence, Brig-Gen Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), and Director-General of National Intelligence Agency.
After the meeting, the security heads kept sealed lips, declining to brief journalists on issues they deliberated on.
In a related development, Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Masari, also held closed-door talks with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, over security challenges confronting his state.