Over 200 killed in Zamfara despite Buhari’s no-fly-order
A tally by The PUNCH shows that 200 residents of Zamfara State have been killed in violent attacks despite a ‘no-fly-zone’ declared over the state’s airspace
The National Security Adviser, BabaganaMonguno, had on March 2, 2021, conveyed the President’s no-fly-order which was done in a bid to end banditry in the gold-rich state.
Seeking to put an end to banditry that has ravaged Zamfara State and other parts of the North-West and North-Central states, Buhari declared the state a no-fly-zone and placed a ban on all mining activities.
A no-fly zone is a territory established by a military power over which certain aircraft are not permitted to fly.
Presidency officials had told The PUNCH that Buhari was shocked that some of the foreign illegal miners were linked to acts of banditry and the Zamfara State government simply ignored the destruction of some villages where the mining takes place and tolerated the use of choppers in and out to facilitate illegal mining.
The traditional rulers in the state told service chiefs, who visited the state, that there were over 30,000 bandits in Zamfara forests, a number that far outweighs the less than 10,000 troops deployed in the state to tackle insecurity.
A tally by The PUNCH, however, showed that at least 200 people had been killed by bandits since the no-fly-zone came into effect in March even as states sharing boundaries with Zamfara such as Kaduna,Niger and Kebbi had continued to witness killings and abductions.
On March 3, a day after the no-fly-order came into effect, about 50 persons were abducted while several houses were burnt in an attack on Tungar Baushe community in Mutunji district, Maru Local Government Area of the state but no deaths were reported.
On March 17, eight persons, including three soldiers and five civilians, were killed by terrorists at Kasaba village, Magami district, Maru Local Government Area, Zamfara State, an act which was condemned by the governor in a statement signed by his Commissioner for Information, Ibrahim Dosara.
Some of the bandits were also reported to have been killed by the military. The Nigerian Army said on May 10 that its troops killed 48 bandits operating across different camps in the Maru local government area of the state.
On April 21, however, about 90 persons were killed during separate attacks in Gusau, Maradun and Bakura local government areas. Many of the victims were said to be vigilantes. While 62 corpses were immediately recovered, residents stated that the death toll rose to 90 the following day.
Over 100 bandits were reported to have stormed Dansadau Town on May 18, stealing over 300 cows and looting shops but no deaths were reported.
However, on May 22, bandits killed 21 people including two policemen in Gabaken, Rigiya, Donroyi, Torawa, and Riwoji all located in the Zurmi and Kaura Namoda local government areas of the state.
On May 24, gunmen on motorcycles invaded Dandamji, Gidan Runji, Doka, Yanmadanga and Yarkatsina villages killing at least 10 people. The police, however, claimed to have killed 10 of the bandits as well.
Bandits killed about 12 farmers and injured nine others in attacks in the Gusau Local Government Area on June 3.
On June 12, about 54 villagers were killed in an attack on five communities in Zurmi village. The residents were reported to have taken some of the corpses to the palace of the village traditional ruler to protest.
FG should assess impact of no-fly-zone – Zamfara
When contacted, the Special Adviser to Governor Bello Matawalle on Public Enlightenment Media and Communication, Alhaji Zailani Bappa, said the question on whether the no-fly-zone order had reduced killings and kidnapping in Zamfara State should be directed to the Federal Government.
Bappa said the Federal Government has enforced the no fly zone order aimed at restoring peace in the state as such it should be asked whether the order has made an impact.
“You should direct your question to the Federal Government no know whether the no fly zone order has stopped the killings and kidnapping of people in the state”.
“Zamfara State Government is not supposed to say whether the order has made an impact or not because it was not responsible for that”.
“As a journalist, you can make your own assessment through investigation to find out whether the order has stopped the killings and kidnapping of people in the state,” said Bappa.
Speaking with The PUNCH on Wednesday, the Country Director of Amnesty International, Ms. Osai Ojigho, said it was very sad that Zamfara and other states were still seeing high numbers of people who had been killed, lost their homes and displaced as a result of the violence.
Ojigho added, “One of the things we are getting from the ground is that many of these areas are dominated by a strong military presence but there is a slow response in terms of engaging the bandits, criminals whatever you want to call them in these communities and it is due to years of failing to find long lasting solutions to this crisis.”
In his reaction, however, the Director, Army Information, Brig. Gen.Onyema Nwachukwu, said the army had averted many attacks in Zamfara State and had bombarded the hideouts of bandits.
He, however, urged residents to assist the military with credible information on security.
Nwachukwu said, “As we speak, troops of the Nigerian Army under the aegies of Operation Hadarin Daji in the North West are conducting aggressive clearance operations on suspected bandits’ enclaves.
“Stop and search operations are also ongoing, to fish out fleeing bandits and intercept flow of illegal arms and ammunition. Troops are equally maintaining blocking positions to deny the bandits freedom of action.”