Seeking Defence Headquarters’ Intervention to Tackle Bandits Fleeing into Nasarawa

Igbawase Ukumba writes that Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State was at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, seeking for quick intervention to salvage the state from bandits fleeing Plateau State to Nasarawa

Perhaps, the influx of bandits fleeing from crisis spots in the Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State to Nasarawa has compelled Governor Abdullahi Sule to meet with the Chief of Defence Staff, Maj. Gen. Christopher Musa. The influx of those bandits and the proliferation of illegal production of small arms and ammunition in the state has reached an alarming crescendo.

Speaking to journalists at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, shortly after a closed-door meeting with the Chief of Defense Staff, the governor said his visit was to inform the Defence Chief of the need to act fast to salvage the situation in Nasarawa State. He said the action became imperative because of the state’s proximity to Abuja, the country’s seat of power.

Sule said: “Nasarawa State has the largest proximity to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) among other States. So security in Nasarawa State is always very critical to the North and Nigeria. As usual, I am a very regular visitor to this office of the CDS. I discussed a few issues about security challenges. Moreover, as the head of security agencies, I believe he is in a better position to handle them than anyone else.

“I’m not a security man. I don’t know much about Nasarawa’s security challenges, but I believe he will handle them. Nasarawa is surrounded by several states with security challenges or another. It started with Benue where anti-open grazing laws existed. We have some challenges there. There was an influx of Fulanis who didn’t want to stay in Benue into Nasarawa State. We have an issue on the Plateau today because of the Mangu crisis. We always have some people that are always running for their interests in Nasarawa.”

Nevertheless, sometimes Nasarawa had some challenges in the southern part of Kaduna, and some people also ran into Nasarawa. Even in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), if they had problems, they turned to Nasarawa. For that reason, Governor Sule maintained that Nasarawa had become a base for some criminals and they transit through that place.

“Of course, you have some of these challenges to discuss in other areas. They are helpful for me to share with CDS who is in a better position to look at them and handle them,” Sule concluded.

For the Chief of Defence Staff, the military had already mapped out strategies to address the threat, as it was imperative to keep the state secured due to its closeness to the FCT.

Musa said: “You have just heard from him about the security challenges facing the state. You know how strategic Nasarawa State is to Nigeria, FCT particularly. What we tried to do, what we have exchanged is to look at it generally. We have the importance and necessity to maintain peace within Nasarawa State.

“So, all the security challenges confronting the state are being addressed, and we are being proactive about them. We don’t wait until it gets terrible before acting. We are on it now, before anything happens. I can assure you that Nasarawa will remain peaceful, and Abuja will remain peaceful.”

Prior to Governor Sule’s visit to the Defence Headquarters for security intervention, the governor had convened an expanded security meeting with a view to addressing some emerging security threats that were capable of disrupting the relative peace in the state if left unchecked. The expanded security meeting, which had in attendance security chiefs, selected Local Government chairmen and traditional rulers, was held in the Government House, Lafia.

Reviewing the agenda for the meeting, Sule raised the alarm over the proliferation of illegal production of small arms and ammunition in the state. He also raised the alarm over the influx of bandits fleeing from crisis spots in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State, with intelligence report identifying some of these bandits around Mangar and Ambaka areas, in Wamba Local Government Area, as well as in Lafia East Development Area.

“The security crisis recently around Mangu Local Government Area in Plateau State while it’s still ongoing, it has led to a lot of migration of people with some of those bandits crossing into our state mostly from Mangu and Bokkos area,” Sule said.

Part of the agenda of the security meeting, as the governor continued, included reviewing the movement of Fulani herders for grazing in areas bordering the neighboring Benue State, which poses potential threat to security.

“Recently, there have been movement of herders, especially Fulani herders. This may not pose a big security challenge because they are moving to grazing areas. But unfortunately, those areas are also problematic because they are at the border between Keana and Guma Local Government Area in Benue State. It will be a recipe for problems down the line and around Tunga area which is our major concern,” the governor pointed out.

Meanwhile, suspected bandits had on July 22, 2023 attempted frustrating Governor Sule’s efforts at confronting the growing wave of insecurity in Nasarawa State. The bandits had on that fateful day invaded the residential home of former Minister of information, Labaran Maku, and left three security guards on duty fatally injured.

The bandits in a sporadic shooting forced their way into Maku’s Ola residential home in Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State at about 7:50pm.

According to one of the security guards that was brutally injured, “the attackers came speaking in Hausa, banging the entrance gate to the residential home of Maku and started shooting when they were refused entry. They came in mob and ordered me to open the entrance gate. When I resisted because I did not know who they are, they started shooting and jumped the fences into the compound.”

When contacted, Mr. Labaran Maku said it was the third time in one month that his residence would be attacked by suspected Fulani bandits.

“You will remember they invaded my father’s compound at Wakama and kidnapped three of my siblings about a month ago. The other time they killed two of my elder brother’s children right at the residential house. What happened today showed clearly that our state is under siege by suspected bandits. It took the intervention of the Army and the police deployed to Akwanga who immediately rushed to my residence. On sighting the army, they fled into the bush”, Maku narrated.

In s swift reaction, Governor Abdullahi Sule condemned the invasion of the Ola residence of the former Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, by persons suspected to be bandits. Speaking in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Public Affairs, Peter Ahemba, the governor described the incident as unfortunate and directed the Police and other security agencies in the state to ensure that the criminals were brought to book.

Sule hereby reassures that, “as a responsible government, the security of lives and property as well as the general well-being of the citizens will continue to top priority by my administration. The state government is already partnering  the top Military Command, the Police and other Para-military agencies to ensure that bandits fleeing from other parts of the country as a result of military offensives do not have a hiding place in Nassrawa State.”

The governor also warned criminal elements operating under whatever guise to leave or desist from their evil ways as the State has no hiding place for criminals.

Sule, on behalf of the government and people of Nassrawa State, extended his deepest sympathy to the former Minister of Information over the unfortunate incident and to the injured security personnel, who were on duty at the time of the invasion.

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