Killings: Zamfara emirs cry for help, Buhari vows to crush terrorists

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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Saturday expressed outrage at the latest reports of killings in four villages of Zamfara State by bandits, who have now been designated as terrorists.FILE - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is seen during a visit to the Maimalari Barracks in Maiduguri on June 17, 2021. (Photo by Audu Marte / AFP) (Photo by AUDU MARTE/AFP via Getty Images)FILE – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is seen during a visit to the Maimalari Barracks in Maiduguri on June 17, 2021. (Photo by Audu Marte / AFP) (Photo by AUDU MARTE/AFP via Getty Images)

This was as the two emirs in the affected communities pleaded for deployment of more troops to the region.

Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, vowed that his regime would “smoke out and destroy these outlaws who have no regard for the sanctity of life.”

The terrorists, who were reportedly fleeing Zamfara State in their large numbers following heavy military onslaught, had descended on Rafin Danya, Barayar Zaki, Rafin Gero and Kurfa villages in the Anka and Bukkuyum local government areas of state.

Residents said the terrorists descended on the villages, killing and burning houses after vigilantes engaged them in a gun battle, as they were trying to flee the state with no fewer than 3,000 cattle.

Residents had put the casualty figure at over 200, but the Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, said only 58 persons were killed.

Shehu’s statement on Saturday, titled, ‘President Buhari condemns the reported massacre of villagers by escaping bandits in Zamfara, vows no letup in military operations,’ quoted the President as describing the attacks as an act of desperation by the terrorists.

He said, “The latest attacks on innocent people by the bandits is an act of desperation by mass murderers, now under relentless pressure from our military forces who are well-equipped to confront these enemies of humanity effectively.

“In keeping with my commitment to tackling the monster of terrorism head-on, let me reassure these besieged communities and other Nigerians that this government will not abandon them to their fate because we are more than ever determined to get rid of these outlaws.

“These criminals will be history because we are not going to relent in our current military operations to get rid of these thugs who have been terrorising innocent people.”

Buhari appealed to the affected communities for patience, saying, “we are fiercely determined to smoke out and destroy these outlaws who have no regard for the sanctity of life.”

While extending his sympathy to the survivors and families of those killed, the President said that the army and air force were working together to get rid of “these callous criminals” as they acquire more equipment to track down and eliminate criminal gangs that are subjecting innocent Nigerians to the reign of terror, including the illegal imposition of taxes on the communities under siege.

But the Emir of Anka, Alhaji Attahir Ahmad, and the Emir of Bukkuyun, Alhaji Muhammad Usman, who spoke during the visit of Zamfara State Governor, Matawalle, to the attacked communities, appealed for deployment of more security agents in the area in order to checkmate reoccurrence of terrorists’ attacks in the area.

The Emir of Anka said, “The record we have indicated that 22 persons lost their lives in the attack, while four villages were burnt down by the bandits.

“We are in need of additional security personnel to this area; as such, we are appealing to the Federal Government to consider the deployment of more military personnel to the area.”

Similarly speaking, the Emir of Bukkuyum, who gave the number of people killed by the terrorists in his domain as 36, said, “We are appealing to the Federal Government to look into the possibility of deploying additional security personnel to this area.

“The number of the security personnel we have here is grossly inadequate and cannot effectively control the banditry activities in the area considering the influx of armed bandits in the area.”

Casualty figure exaggerated, says Matawalle

Addressing newsmen after his visit to the attacked communities alongside the Commissioner of Police and the General Officer Commanding, the Nigerian Army in the state, Matawalle expressed his condolences to the families whose members were killed by the rampaging terrorists.

He said, “We were shocked on hearing about these killings and we will work tirelessly with the Federal Government for more serious actions to end this ugly act.

“The state government will provide necessary support for the rebuilding of the destroyed villages. The state government has completed arrangements to provide funds for the reconstruction of the villages destroyed by bandits.”

A statement by the governor’s Special Adviser on Media, Zailani Bappa, also quoted him as decrying “the noticeable slide in factual reportage by the media who have variously quoted scary figures of deaths arising from the recent attacks by feeing bandits.”

He said, “The correct figure stood at 58 lives lost. The Emir of Anka gave a list of 22 deaths while the Emir of Bukkuyum gave a list of 36 victims.

“This is against the various figures ranging from 200 to 500 deaths and 11 villages attacked in the media.

“Both the governor and the two Emirs called on online media and the social media to always verify the facts instead of scaring the public for whatever reason.

“It is also obvious that my administration is not only threatened by bandits in the bush but also political bandits in our towns and villages.

“These are those politicians who manipulate the crisis for political gains and the informants who aid the bandits in their nefarious activities.

“But we shall conquer all by the strength of the Almighty Allah.

“We cannot fold our arms and allow people to always create panic and paint gorier picture of actual happenings in the state. There is no justification for anyone to wish us deeper trouble than where our people are today.”

We need divine intervention, says Buhari

However, speaking through the Minister of State for Agriculture, Mustapha Shehuri, on Saturday in Kano at the National Prayer Session for Nigeria organised by the Kano State Government, Buhari said divine intervention was needed to overcome insecurity challenges confronting Nigeria.

He said his regime was not resting on its oars regarding giving the necessary support, in terms of equipment and welfare, to the nation’s security agencies.

“Despite the support, there is a need to seek divine intervention for the Almighty to bring an end to the challenges,” the President said.

“No doubt, Nigeria is facing security challenges and we are doing our best to support the security personnel. That does not mean we should not seek divine intervention. This prayer session is part of the interventions and I commend the state governor for this,” he added.

PDP, CAN slam President

But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and the Christian Association of Nigeria knocked Buhari, saying his regime hadn’t lived up to the promise he made in his New Year message to pay more attention to the security of lives and properties of Nigerians.

In a condolence message by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, to the victims of the Zamfara attacks the PDP said Buhari only made promises he never intended to keep.

The opposition party said, “Between January and December 2021, about 9, 196 people were killed, 3, 857 Nigerians were kidnapped. Of these, about 70 per cent of the victims are from the North including the President’s home state of Katsina where the governor has asked citizens to buy arms to protect themselves. This is an admission of failure.

“It is sad that this is what Nigerians now face daily. We commiserate with the victims. The Buhari government lacks the capacity to do anything. There are terror apologists in the APC and the government knows them. In 2015, they imported foreign terrorists into the country for the purpose of gaining power.”

Similarly, the Vice-President of CAN, Rev. Joseph Hayab, “Governance has fallen in many states today in northern Nigeria and the Federal Government needs to do something urgently before the worst will happen.

“Sadly, the body language of Mr President and those surrounding him does not show they care and expecting them to declare a state of emergency is a wasted appeal because nothing about them shows they care.”

We must find lasting solution to insecurity – Saraki

A former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, while condemning the Zamfara attacks, said there was a need to find a lasting solution.

Saraki, in his condolence message, said, “My heart goes out to the families and communities that have experienced the tragic loss and injury of loved ones, the destruction of their property, and the interruption of their livelihoods.

“It is my prayer that with lasting peace and determined leadership, a place like Anka can one day become one of the highest income per capita communities in Nigeria. However, for this to happen, we must be decisive, thorough, and relentless about securing the lives and property of all Nigerians.” ,, AdChoices

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