Francis Sardauna in Katsina
Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State and his counterparts from Sokoto Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and Dr. Muhammed Bello Matawalle of Zamfara, along with their Maradi, Niger Republic counterpart, Alhaji Zakari Oumarou, have expressed concerns over the proliferation of arms, ammunition and hard drugs in the two countries.
The governors, who met Sunday in Maradi at the instance of the host governor, drew a nexus between banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling that have become a recurring problem in North-west part of Nigeria and Maradi in the Republic of Niger.
In a six-point communique read by the Governor of Maradi, Oumarou, after the meeting, the governors adopted a unified and coordinated approach in the ongoing fight against insurgency and banditry, even as it called for an enhanced check on voluntary returnees.
The meeting particularly appreciated and commended the alternative conflict resolution methods started by Governors Masari, Tambuwal and Mutawalle in their respective states.
The governors also commended and appreciated the efforts of Oumarou for the hospitality given to Nigerian refugees hosted in Maradi, even as they lauded Dangote Foundation and other NGOs for providing support to the refugees.
The meeting agreed that the three governors from Nigeria “will consult with the highest authorities in Nigeria regarding the closure of the boarder”.
Oumarou said: “The meeting reiterated the determination of governors from Nigeria to join forces with their counterpart in Niger Republic to continue with the ongoing fight against terrorism and other organised crimes in the two countries.
“The meeting also commended the renewed efforts of the four governors in curtailing the menace of bandits in their various states. The meeting further observed with serious concerns the proliferation of arms, ammunition, hard drugs and calls for intensification to curb their menace in the two countries
“The governors appreciated conflict resolution mechanism as started by the three governors from Nigeria. The meeting appealed for brotherly love and support to continue to be extended to refugees from Nigeria by the government of Maradi.”
He affirmed the governors’ appreciation for the support and donation of relief materials to victims of banditry by the Dangote Foundation and other humanitarian organisations in Maradi.
In his remarks during the opening session of the meeting, Governor Masari said the four governors in the two neighbouring countries had agreed to work together to end banditry.
On his part, the Governor of Sokoto, Tambuwal, applauded President Muhammadu Buhari and Muhammad of Niger Republic for their unflinching efforts towards restoring peace in the two countries.
He expressed appreciation to the Governor of Maradi for receiving refugees from Sokoto who fled to the region in the height of the activities of bandits.
In his address, the Zamfara State Governor, Matawalle, said cattle rustling, kidnappings and other heinous crimes were bottlenecks to commercial activities that once flourish in the region.