By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor, Henry Ojelu & Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo
Zamfara State government has directed citizens in the state to obtain guns to defend themselves against bandits, a move many see as a sign of a failed state.
The government also banned the use of motorcycles, otherwise known as Okada, in the state and directed security to shoot at sight any violator of the Okada ban. This is aside from banning the sale of petrol to bike operators in the state.
It equally gave orders for immediate closure of markets in three districts in the state.
The state’s Commissioner for Information, Ibrahim Dosara, who stated this in a statement, yesterday, said the directive was a result of the increase in the activities of bandits in various parts of the state, adding that it was committed to ensure adequate security and protection of lives and property of the citizenry in the state, particularly during this rainy season,.
He explained that the government had resolved to take further measures to deal with the recent escalating attacks, kidnapping and the criminal levies being enforced on innocent citizens of communities in the state.
Although the government said the governor had notified the state Police Commissioner, Ayuba Elkana, of the development, the CP denied last night that he received any information from the governor.
Dosara said: “This act of terrorism has been a source of worry and concern to the people and government of the state. Therefore, in order to deal decisively with the situation in our respective communities, government has no option than to take the following measures:
“Government has, henceforth, directed individuals to prepare and obtain guns to defend themselves against bandits, as government has directed the state commissioner of police to issue license to all those who qualify and are wishing to obtain such guns to defend themselves.
“Government is ready to facilitate people, especially our farmers, to secure basic weapons to defend themselves. Government has already concluded arrangement to distribute 500 forms to each of the 19 Emirates in the state for those willing to obtain guns to defend themselves.
“People must apply from the Commissioner of Police license to own guns and such other basic weapons to be used in defending themselves. A secretariat or centre will be established for the collection of intelligence on the activities of informants.
“People are strictly warned and advised to make sure that any information or intelligence about an informant must be true and nothing but the truth, as all information on such informants must carry correct data on the suspects, including their pictures, correct names, address, occupation and witness to testify the genuity of the information given.
‘’Government is taking punitive measures against anyone found as informant. Any person who gives wrong information against anybody will be served the same punishment as an informant and will be treated as such.
“Government has requested the state House of Assembly to pass, as matter of urgency, the informants bill before it to enable it (government) take the drastic measures on informants as contained in the bill.
“Government has ordered the recruitment of 200 additional community protection guards in each of the 19 emirates of the state, making it 500 per emirate, to increase their manpower and strengthen its force and capacity to deal with the bandits.
“To further ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of these measures, as well as proper implementation of these measures, government has also decided as follows: Formation of a special committee to receive intelligence on the activities of informants.
‘’This committee has the following composition: The SSG, Kabiru Balarabe Sardauna Dan Isa (Lamidon Kaura), as Chairman; Ibrahim Sulaiman, Chief of Staff to the Governor, member; D I G Mamman Ibrahim Tsafe, Commissioner Security, member; Ibrahim Magaji Dosara, Commissioner Information, member; and Nasiru Masama, Commissioner Youth – member.
Others are Sani Abdullahi Wamban Shinkafi, Adviser to the Governor, member; Abubakar Mohammed Dauran, Special Adviser Security, member; Sanusi Wanzammai, Commissioner. State INEC, member; Captain Mai Riga T/Mafara, member; Sani Gwamna Mayanchi, member; and Bello Bakyasuwa Soja to serve as secretary to the committee.
Terms of reference
‘’Their terms of reference will be given to them by the office of the SSG on Monday (today). The state government also announced the formation of additional paramilitary unit to support control and command to properly and effectively reinforce the operations of their community protection guards ,CPG.
“This newly established unit has the following structures and appointments: Retired Commissioner of Police Mamman Anka as Commandant-General; Capt Aminu Mada (retd ), Deputy Commandant General Operations; Sulaiman Lawali Zurmi, Commandant Operations; Bashir Nafiu Gusau, Commandant Mobilization, and Alhaji Na’ibi Karakkai, Commandant Surveillance and Intelligence.
“Other members of the control and command centre of the Community Protection Guards are Shi’itu Makera T/Mafara, Bello Dankurmi, Dogo Na Bukkuyum.
Closure of markets in 3 districts
“In view of the deteriorating security situation in Mada, Wonaka, and Ruwan Bore Districts of Gusau local government, as well as Yandoto emirate in Tsafe local government, Governor Mohammed Matawalle approved the immediate closure of all markets and Kara in these districts and Yandoto Emirate indefinitely.
“In addition to this, government has equally banned riding of motorbikes and selling of petroleum products in Mada, Wonaka and Ruwan Bore districts, as well as Yandoto emirate. Henceforth, all filling stations in the affected areas are hereby closed with immediate effect.
“Anybody found riding motorbike within the areas is considered as bandits and security agencies are thereby directed to shoot such persons at sight. Security agencies are by this announcement directed to ensure strict compliance.
‘’Anybody found violating this order should be dealt with according to the rule of law. Government would not condone any act where innocent people are being killed.
“Government is also using this medium to thank all those who honoured and respect the peace dialogue in what ever form. In the same vein, those who refused to honour and respect the peace dialogue are here by warned to allow peace within our respective communities.
‘’Government is hereby directing the military, police, civil defence and other security agencies to mobilise their operatives and take the fight to the enclaves of the criminals with immediate effect.”
I haven’t seen or received directive — CP Elkana
When contacted on phone, Force Public relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, replied through a text message, saying: “I think CP Zamfara is in the best position to speak on this.’’
However, in his terse reaction, Zamfara State Commissioner for Security and retired DIG Mamman Chafe, told Vanguard: “Let’s talk later, I am just on my way to Zamfara, I left Gusau this morning. Just let me arrive Zamfara, we will talk later tonight.”
But Zamfara State Commissioner of Police, Ayuba Elkan, told Vanguard yesterday: “I did not approve anything. I haven’t received any directive. How can I be in support? I haven’t seen anything.
“So, I can’t be in support or not in support of what I have not seen. People have been calling me and I have not received any directives.”
It calls for urgent reconvening of Nigeria Police Council — Falana(SAN)
Reacting to the development, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN said: “These are all signs of imminent collapse of the Nigeria state. The Zamfara State government appears to have tried many options which have not worked to the extent of securing the lives of people in that state.
“The situation in Zamfara calls for extra-ordinary measures, which the authorities in Abuja have failed to adopt. The directive of the governor is not a catablanche because he has also directed the people to apply for licence to bear arms through the Police Commission. It is a call for a free-for-all affair.
“Normal check will still be adopted to ensure that weapons do not end up in the hands of dangerous people. If individuals can be given licence, what stops the government from giving licence to 5,000 to 10,000 state security agencies to protect the generality of the people.
“For me the challenge from Zamfara requires an urgent meeting of the Nigeria Police Council which is made up of the President, Inspector General of Police and the 36 governors to review the security situation in the country.
“That is the body empowered by the constitution to administer, organise and supervision the Nigeria Police. The council has not been meeting but this situation calls for urgent meeting of the council.
“At all times, government must control the monopoly of violence. Whenever armed gang controls the instrument of violence, then the state has collapsed or is about to collapse.
“While we appreciate the enormity of the security challenges in Zamfara State, care must be taken that we do not descend to the level of gun-bearing countries like USA where gun-bearing men and women begin to attack innocent persons.
“That is why adequate control measures must be put in place to prevent anarchy in addressing the security challenge in the country.”
There’s no better definition of failed state— Malachy
Also, yesterday, human rights activist and former National President, Committee for Defence of Human Rights, CDHR, Malachy Ugwumadu, said: “To a large extent, this development signposts a critical stage in the deteriorating security situation in the country.
‘’What qualifies a country as a state, is that the cohesive forces of that country is in the hands of recognised institution of that state and not in the hands of every person.
“Where in circumstances as we find it now, states and governments throwing their hands in heaven and directing the very victims of failure of leadership to bear arms and resist terrorists and insurgents, who have reason to fight the state, then there is no better explanation of a failed state.
‘’It is unfortunate, critical and has to be carefully reviewed and handled before it dovetails into other states and a conflagration will ensue. Protection of lives and properties remains the primary responsibility of government at every level.
“Therefore, if they have failed in doing that by abdicating the responsibility, then we are in for a serious trouble.”