By Kingsley Omonobi & Idris Salisu
ABUJA — The war against insecurity in the country took a dramatic turn, yesterday, with Governor Dauda Lawal of Zamfara State accused some agencies of the Federal Government of engaging in secret talks with bandits.
Tasking the Federal Government on clarification of the issue, Lawal said reports indicated that a delegation allegedly sent by some agencies of the federal government had been holding talks with bandit groups in Zamfara without his knowledge.
Efforts to get the federal government to speak on the matter, yesterday, did not yield dividends, as a presidency source said the Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, was in a better position to speak on the issue.
The minister was yet to respond as of the time of filing this report.
But Governor Lawal called for an urgent and comprehensive investigation by the federal government into the ongoing secret negotiations with bandits in Zamfara State.
In a statement, the governor’s spokesperson, Sulaiman Bala Idris, Governor Lawal lamented the action of some federal government agencies engaged in negotiations with bandits without recourse to the state government and other security agencies.
The statement added that Governor Lawal also called on the federal government to clarify the action of these federal agencies, which is clearly at variance with the state government’s adoption of a kinetic strategy in the fight against banditry.
The statement read: “Governor Dauda Lawal wishes to call on the federal government to clarify and investigate the actions of some unscrupulous elements sabotaging the ongoing fight against banditry in Zamfara.
Past dialogue with bandits failed
“The Zamfara State government has received reports of how some federal government delegation met with different bandit groups in Birnin Magaji, Maradun, Mun haye, Ajjah, Bawo, and Bagega.
“Previous administrations in the state failed to achieve positive outcomes in their attempts to engage in dialogue with bandits.
We must learn from these past mistakes and adopt a new approach to restore peace in Zamfara.
No negotiation with bandits
“The Zamfara State government has taken a firm stance from the beginning – we will not negotiate with these criminals.
“Ensuring the fight against banditry is a top priority of Zamfara State government, and we cannot afford to make any compromises in our efforts.
‘’We urge the federal government to take swift action by terminating the ongoing negotiations with the bandits in Zamfara, as it undermines progress so far.”
7 abducted Zamfara varsity students, 3 construction workers rescued
Meanwhile, a day after President Bola Tinubu ordered security forces to rescue the remaining students of Federal University, Gusau, seven of the abducted female students were rescued yesterday by troops of Operation Hadarin Daji, along with three construction workers of Gupran Engineering Services Ltd, in Zamfara State A counter-insurgency expert, with vast knowledge of terrorists activities in the Lake Chad area, Zagazola Makama, who disclosed this, yesterday, gave the names of those rescued as Rukayya Sani Batola, Education Chemistry, 200 Level, Zamfara; Merry Monday, MCB-300 Level; Maryam Salawuddeen, Accounting, 300 Level, Osun; and Salamatu Jummai Dahiru, MCB, 200 Level.
Others are Fiddausi Abdulazeez, Education Biology, 200 Level; Amamatullahi Asabe Dahiru, Education Chemistry, 200 Level; Ketora Bulus, Education:Physics, 100 Level, Kaduna; and Felicia Sunday, Computer Science, 200 Level, Osun. Others are Jamila Ahmad, BCH, 200 Level, Kogi; Aisha Aminu Ujong, Education Physics, graduated, Cross River; Mariya Abdulrahman Usman, English, 400 Level, Katsina; Usaina Abdulrahman, Education English, 100 level; and Saadatu Aminu Abubakar, Education Biology.
The identities of the three rescued labourers of Gupran Engineering Services Ltd are Mustapha Abdullahi, Kamalu Shuaibu, and Ishaq Idris Recall that no fewer than 20 students of the university and others were abducted last Friday from their rented lodges in the Sabon Gida, Bungudu LGA of the state.
Troops rescued six of the female students on same Friday, bringing to 13 the number so far rescued.
Military sources said some other female students and construction workers may have also escaped, following the deployment of troops of operation Hadarin Daji to confront the bandits and secure the captives
The troops deployment involved ground and air component special forces of the Joint Task Force of Operation Hadarin Daji.
The plot by the bandits was to split into several batches, with the intention of moving some of the kidnapped students to a forest
in Niger State and others to the Magami axis was foiled when troops stationed along the route intercepted them.