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June 13, 2024

We’ve lost 9 soldiers, 7 policemen, others to fighting bandits in June – Military replies Zamfara governor

We’ve lost 9 soldiers, 7 policemen, others to fighting bandits in June – Military replies Zamfara governor

By: Kingsley Omonobi

Military authorities disclosed on Thursday that terrorists/bandits killed nine (9) soldiers and seven (7) other security personnel in Zamfara State since the beginning of June 2024 during operations to tackle the menace of kidnapping and banditry in the state.

The disclosure is coming against the backdrop of accusations by the governor of the state, Dauda Lawal, who said on Tuesday that the uninspiring attitude of the police and the military was responsible for the creation of the state-owned security outfit, ‘Community Protection Guards’.

Lamenting the ‘laidback attitude’ of the police and the military in combating the menace of banditry plaguing the state in a Channels TV programme, the governor had said, “We, as governors, don’t have control over the military; we don’t have control over the police as well as the civil defence. In most cases, we get frustrated.”

“Sometimes, when you’re really helpless, when you need them (security agents), they are not there. Even when they are there, they are given certain instructions on what to do and not what to do. So the best thing to do is to set up that kind of security outfit.”

“In two weeks, we can take care of the situation, but the political will are not there. We know who they (bandits) are. We know where they live. It’s just that there is no political will.”

“At a point, I had to really come and say it clearly because when we are trying to take care of the situation, somebody somewhere is negotiating with the bandits without my knowledge.”

“Zamfara State has become the hub of banditry in Nigeria. If you are able to take care of Zamfara today, you have solved more than 90% of the issues in northern Nigeria as a whole.”

He added that illegal mining was not much of a headache but banditry and kidnapping in virtually all 14 local governments in the state, noting that some people are bent on making the state ungovernable for him, but he was not deterred.

However, the Director of Defence Media Operations; Major General Edward Buba, said in his response that the Defence headquarters cannot join issues since it is subservient to the nation’s political masters and the constitution.

It was noted, however, that the military was conducting several operations to eliminate the terrorists in Zamfara State, whom the governor has acknowledged to be the epicentre of banditry in the North West.

“Nine soldiers have been killed in this month of June alone while fighting terrorists in Zamfara State, and from our records, seven personnel from other agencies have also been killed this June. So the military is not relenting.

His words, “The attention of the Defence Headquarters has been drawn to weighty allegations labelled against the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) by the Zamfara State Governor in a recent interview on Channels TV. The AFN hereby makes it unequivocally clear that it is a professional force that is subservient to political authority, particularly the political leadership of Zamfara State. 

“The military will not join issues with the governor; rather, we choose the part of cooperation over conflict with the state governor and look forward to constructively engage with him on these matters. 

“Troops of Op Hadarin Daji deployed to Zamfara State have lost 9 personnel so far in the month of June 2024. These killed in action personnel are a painful testament of our tireless efforts, commitment, and sacrifice to restoring peace and security in the state. 

“Nevertheless, the allegations against the military and security forces operating in the state really need to be analyzed impartially and understood.

“The situation underscores the fact that winning the war without the support of the people of the state is close to impossible. 

“Interestingly, despite the state being described as the epicentre of kidnapping, the state has no internal security operation outfit to coordinate activities of security agencies operating in the state, as is found in other states. This situation leaves much to be desired. 

“Overall, the military will continue to work tirelessly to restore safety and security across our nation. Certainly, there is still a lot of fighting to do in order to guarantee the safety of our homeland.

“Citizens must clearly understand the reason we are fighting this war. They must understand that the terrorists will not stop, until they are stopped.

“Additionally, the lifeline of the terrorist groups is the people. Winning the war without the support of the people is close to impossible.

“While troops probably don’t have all the answers. Citizens should rest assured that the military is working relentlessly to guarantee the safety and security of every citizen from acts of terror. 

To buttress the difficulty of the Zamfara challenge, Gen Buba showed a video clip where the Commissioner of Police in the state, CP Shehu, disclosed that a local government chairman, a district head, and a traditional ruler were arrested for their involvement in banditry.

The CP emphasised that the district head was arrested for providing hard drugs for terrorists and bandits to perpetrate their evil.