Governors of the Northern States have gone the Amotekun way as they resolved to engage local hunters and vigilante groups in the fight against banditry and other forms of insecurity in the region.
This followed growing concerns over by the recent killings in Kasina, Zamfara, Sokoto and other parts of the region.
Amotekun is the security name adopted by the South West Governors to combat criminal activities in their region.
The Northern Governors Forum which met via teleconferencing to review the security situation in the region presided over by chairman of the forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, expressed serious concern over the level of the insecurity which has resulted in the loss of many lives and property in the region.
The governors also resolved to set up a standing committee on security in the region to be headed by Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State to help foster synergy with security agencies in the enforcement of security measures in the region. The committee has the governors of Zamfara and Gombe states as members.
A statement issued on Friday by the Director of Press and Public Affairs to the chairman of the forum, Dr. Makut Simon Macham in Jos after the meeting late Thursday said the governors also set up another committee to be headed by Governor Simon Lalong for consultations with traditional, religious and community leaders in the North to ensure wider involvement in tackling insecurity in the region. It has the governors of Adamawa, Niger, and Sokoto states as members.
“Another decision reached by the governors is the engagement of local vigilantes, hunters, and community watch groups in the security architecture of the region in order to foster intelligence gathering, rapid response and sustained surveillance,” the statement said.
While sympathizing with victims of the various attacks and other forms of criminality in the region, the forum appealed for calm by groups and those affected, as it said both the forum and the federal government were working together to ensure that the situation is brought under control, as well as addressing the humanitarian needs of the victims.
The forum appealed to all security agencies in the country to step up efforts to put an end to banditry and other forms of insecurity in the country.
Suspend protests now—Northern elders to CNG
The Northern Elders Forum has advised the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) to suspend further protests and explore other avenues in putting pressure on the federal and state governments to provide security for people in the North.
The forum said on Friday that as it awaited the outcome of the CNG’s deliberation on its advice, it urged President Muhammadu Buhari and all governments to note that neither the forum nor the CNG represents a threat to them, adding that they do, however, represent voices that need to be heard in the current circumstance in the North.
The CNG had commenced a planned series of peaceful marches in all parts of the North to draw attention to the insecurity in the region. However, after two of the marches were held in Niger and in Katsina states, the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the CNG, Nastura Ashir Shariff, was detained in Abuja before he was later released on Thursday.
In a statement issued by its Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba- Ahmed, the Northern Elders Forum stated that all groups in the North should be encouraged to raise their levels of vigilance and organization to demand that elected leaders live up to their oath to secure Nigerians.
“We recall that then General Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the APC had exercised these same rights before his election as president.
“Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that there are plans to disrupt these peaceful protests and subvert their objectives in some parts of the North.
“The goals of these subversives are to create a hostile environment that will worsen the state of insecurity in which our people live, and divert attention from their goal, which is basically to urge government to take firm and immediate steps to arrest the bleeding in the North,” it stated.
The forum said it had engaged the CNG in discussions to prevent subversion of its otherwise commendable efforts to organize peaceful marches and protests, adding; “We both took cognizance of some positive developments since the Minna and Katsina marches. President Muhammadu Buhari had appealed to people in Katsina to be patient as plans to clear the state of bandits are under way.”
It further stated that after the marches, President Buhari had dispatched a high-powered delegation to some states in the North West to meet with governors and convey his concerns and plans to take firmer action against banditry, rustlers, kidnappers and rapists who have made lives of the people virtually valueless.
“Yesterday, President Buhari met with Service Chiefs and expressed his disappointment at their records and performance, and directed them to do better to protect our communities.
“All these are evidence that the administration is taking note of the growing outrage from many quarters, but particularly from the courage and the faith of members of the CNG that change comes only when we raise our voices and act against indifference and incompetence,” it stated.
Zamfara residents urge brute force against bandits
Residents of Zamfara State say they would like the state authorities to jettison any move to re-negotiate with armed criminals terrorizing the state, but instead, use brute force to dislodge them.
Speaking with our correspondent, the residents said it seemed the bandits were taking the advantage or hiding behind the purported peace agreement to continue to carry out mayhem in the state, therefore the authorities must find ways of dealing with them head on.
A resident, Surajo Muhammad Birnin Magaji, said criminals are not found to be trustworthy because in the past such peace deals by the previous administration had collapsed when the armed men decided to continue to unleash mayhem on the people without any provocation.
“The government must respond to their devilish acts in the language they speak -violence. It should be an eye for an eye and a hand for a hand. No more peace dialogue. They were the ones that violated the pact reached. They were asked to surrender their weapons but they refused”
Another resident said: “Their refusal to submit their rifles means they have no intention to embrace peace. The late cattle rustling kingpin called Buharin Daji was engaged for peace by the neighboring Katsina and Zamfara State government. He agreed to cease hostilities but later reneged on his promise and renewed attacks on communities. He was later killed in gang violence.”
Another resident, Habib Yahaya, said state authorities must get rid of politics in the quest to end insecurity, and ensure synergy between the leaders and the led and between different political actors if the security challenges are to be surmounted.
“Forget about those bandits saying they have embraced peace, if what they are saying is true why can’t they influence the recalcitrant ones to accept the peace offer? They should not be trusted and all means must be devised to crush them,” he said.
“The state government should employ the services of local vigilantes to lead the security operatives through the rough terrain to the identified bandits’ camps inside the forests,” he added.
Isah Lalo also said the state government must acquire more fighting equipment and be less dependent on security agencies controlled by the federal government.
He said such move would tremendously help to check the bandits.
“I don’t buy the idea of peace negotiation any more. These criminals are not trustworthy. “After the peace pact with them in Zamfara State, they carried out series of brutal attacks on hapless communities.
“Their atrocities should trigger quick and brutal response by the military. It is the only language they understand.
“Authorities must wake up from their deep slumber to ruthlessly deal with these criminals.
“Imagine the criminal called Ado Aleiro. Was he not a party to the last year’s peace process? Has he stopped attacking communities? This is enough to tell you that tit- – for-tat approach is the only solution to their madness,” he said.
However, Alhaji Sani Liman said the state should instead of using force, review the current peace deal and try to identify the loopholes. He said as far as he was concerned peace dialogue remains the best option.
Governor Bello Matawalle’s Special Adviser Public Enlightenment, Media and Communication Mallam Zailani Bappa, said the state would still adopt the carrot and stick approach to end banditry.
“Those who embrace peace would see peace but those who remain defiant would be defeated using force. This is the stand of the Zamfara State government,” he said.
- With additional news from NEWSEXPRESS.