Zamfara Gov: We’ve Secured Release of 300 Kidnapped Victims

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 South-west govs to launch new security architecture to tackle insecurity 

 •FG hastily obtained proscription order to cover up rights abuses, Shiites allege

 Deji Elumoye in Abuja, John Shiklam in Kaduna  and Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan

The Zamfara State Government has rescued a total of 300 people from cattle rustlers, bandits and kidnappers, according to the Governor, Alhaji Bello Matawalle.

The victims, he said, were rescued less than two months of his coming into office

The governor spoke at the weekend in Abuja while signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the President of Africa Export Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), Prof Benedict Oramah, for the bank’s investment of $1billion in critical sectors of the state.

The governor gave updates on efforts being made by his administration to tackle the protracted insecurity in the state just as his counterpart in Oyo State, Mr. Seyi Makinde, unveiled plans to end the reign of bandits and kidnappers in the South-west through a new security architecture that is billed to come on stream on August 1, 2019.

Also at the weekend, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), also known as Shiite, reacted to its proscription last Friday by the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, accusing the federal government of hastily obtaining the order to cover up alleged human rights abuses perpetrated against it.

The Zamfara governor said in Abuja that those held captives were released without the state government paying any ransom.

“Our administration is committed to give a full secured state and we have started that by engaging the bandits in peace talks and they have accepted to lay down their arms.

“As at today, we have secured the release of over 300 people that are under captivity. The securing of the release of these people was done without any commitment; no single kobo or ransom was paid to the bandits. So we assure you that Zamfara State is safe for investors; they can come to the state. They can come to the state and the government is committed to making sure that everything is out in place to guarantee their security,” he added.

On the bank’s proposed investment of $1 billion in the state, the governor stated that discussion started a fortnight ago when he and other state officials  “met with some AFREXIM BANK people in Dubai through the facilitation of  the Managing Director of Heritage Bank who promised to connect us with Afreximbank president which culminated in the $1 billion investments the bank has decided to bring to the State”.

According to him, the investment would not have been possible if the problem  of insecurity was not tackled .

Speaking earlier, the bank’s President, Prof. Oramah, said the bank’s investments will cut across manufacturing and other sectors in the state for the purposes of opening it up for the required development as against poverty – driven violence.

According to him, the MoU on the  multifaceted investments,  is anchored on Public Private Partnership ( PPP) , requiring the Zamfara State Government and Afreximbank to leverage on the resources in the state for the general good of the people there and beyond.

He said : “We had a very fruitful meeting with the delegation from Zamfara State led by the governor. In AFREXIM BANK we are pleased that the leadership of Zamfara State has a clear vision.

“So we are proud to be in a very serious discussion with Zamfara State in various areas. We have discussed partnership covering solid minerals where Zamfara State has significant strength. We are looking forward to work with Zamfara State and our partners to further map the resources and monetise them as quickly as possible.

“We also discussed resources partnership in the area of agriculture and water to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities presented by the system in Zamfara State, not only to generate electricity but also for agriculture.

“In particular, is the plan on partnership for  reviving  the cotton industry in Zamfara  State. There is no reason why Zamfara State cannot produce cotton as Republic of Benin, which is now the largest producer of cotton in Africa. There is no reason why Zamfara State cannot produce more cotton than the Burkina Fasso or Mali do  today. Everything is there in Zamfara State and history is on its  side.”

In another development, Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, yesterday said governors of the six states in the South-west had agreed to launch a new security architecture in August.

Makinde, at a special thanksgiving service in honour of his mother, Madam Abigail Makinde, in Ibadan,  also said  Oyo State would equally launch a statewide security system before his 100 days in office.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the governor as saying that the governors of South-west states have been meeting to find lasting solutions to the security challenges in the region.

Makinde was reacting to a section of the homily by the officiating clergy, Venerable Samuel Osungbeju, which harped on the rising waves of insecurity in the land.

He said: “I and other governors of the South-west have met on how to launch a new security architecture before the end of August 2019. The first 100 days of this government will be on September 5 and before September 5, we will launch a new security architecture in Oyo state.”

Meanwhile, the Shiites have faulted their proscription, saying the federal government hastily obtained the court order to cover up alleged human rights abuses perpetrated against it.

In a statement yesterday, the group said  its lawyers were studying the proscription order for  appropriate response.

The Federal High Court, presided over by Justice Nkeonye Maha, had on Friday, in a ruling on an ex-parte application by the federal government, ordered the proscription of the group and designated its activities in any part of Nigeria “as acts of terrorism and illegality.”

But the IMN in the statement by its President, Media Forum of the IMN, Ibrahim Musa, said the group was consulting its lawyers and would respond appropriately.

Musa said the IMN would not be pushed into taking any rash decision no matter the provocation.

According to the statement, the proscription is part of the strategies by the government to muzzle the IMN, saying that the group will not be distracted in its quest for the release of its leader, Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat.

“It is all part of the blinding official stereotypes against the Islamic Movement. We would however not relent in calling for the immediate release of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife, using all lawful and peaceful means as we have done all this while. We will not be distracted by this huge joke,” the group said.

Meanwhile, residents of Kaduna metropolis are apprehensive as hearing on the motion for bail application by the Shiite leader comes up today at the Kaduna State High Court.

WhatsApp messages were being circulated yesterday among residents on alleged planned protest by Shiite members on today.

The message advised residents to avoid certain parts of the city centre during the court sitting.

The spokesman of the Kaduna state police command, Yakubu Sabo, could not be reached for reaction as his mobile telephone was switched off.

But a senior police officer who pleaded anonymity as he was not authorised to speak with the media, said there was no cause for alarm as adequate security measures had been put in place to ensure law and order in the city.