Tambawul: Lack of Manpower, Regional Cooperation Hindering Fight against Banditry

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*Says there is no synergy between military, security agencies

By Chuks Okocha 

The Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambawul, has stressed the need for increased military presence, synergy among security agencies and cooperation among states and neighbouring countries to fight banditry in Nigeria’s Northwest region.

The region has been a hotbed of terrorism and criminal activities fuelled by armed gangs, recently gaining support from jihadists, who plunder communities, rape, kidnap and kill people, mostly farmers and pastoralists.

The governor was a guest speaker at a webinar organised by Umaru Shinkafi Legacy Foundation’s Annual Umaru Shnkafi Security Summit in Memory of the Late Umar Ali Shinkafi, Marafan Sokoto.

Shinkafi, a former police officer and lawyer, was Director-General of National Security Organisation (1979 to 1983), which later transformed to Department of State Services (DSS).

Tambuwal said: “Recently, we are experiencing low level of manpower, even though we have established a military unit of 8 Division in the state, the manpower is not up to a battalion; so it is undermanned.

“They don’t have the manpower, they don’t have the equipment, so, there’s need for deployment of more troops, more hands, more equipment, more flexible vehicles that will lead them to areas because the problem is not in one place; it is sporadic with the bandits hastily moving from one place to another.

“So, they have to be pursued, the land mass is wide and vast even into Niger Republic, so it is very difficult even in gathering intelligence.”

He said the government of Sokoto State had been doing its best to deal with the situation but the COVID-19 pandemic had taken so much of its resources.

“I appeal that we be more focused and there must be synergy between security agencies.

“If I will be honest, in the past, one of the challenges was non-existence of synergy at the top level of security agencies.

“Here in Sokoto, I must report that the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air Force, DSS, the police are all united and I commend them but at the top level of military and security high command, it is obvious there is no synergy,” the governor said.

He said technology was key to addressing the security challenges considering the terrain, adding: “we cannot continue this way; we need to deploy drones, we need to deploy all that we can to address this challenge.

“There has to be looping of the entire Northwest, including Niger State.

“The actions of security should be simultaneous otherwise when you address the challenge in Zamfara, Katsina, Niger or Sokoto, the bandits will quickly move to the next state. There’s a need to take it all together.

“I told the president when I met him to meet and collaborate with the president of Niger Republic because we have states like Douso, Tahoua, Maradia and Zinder on the border of Nigeria and they are having the problems of banditry. That is why we are having this hot pursuit of criminal elements.

“The Nigerian forces can pursue criminals into Niger Republic, the Niger Republic forces can also pursue them into Nigeria, so there is need for coordination at the level of ECOWAS,” he said.

The governor said there was arms inflow from countries such as Niger, Chad, Libya and Cameroon into Nigeria and as such there was a need not only for national response but a “ sub-regional effort”.

Other participants in the webinar were northern elders and political leaders like Governor Bello Mattawalle of Zamfara State, former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, former Minister of Defence, Abdulrahman Dambazau, and former Governor of Zamfara State, AbdulAziz Yari.

The conference discussed numerous issues confronting the region, including security and regional integration.