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Nigeria: Zamfara Governor Matawalle Insists on Negotiating with Bandits

Despite the abduction of the 317 schoolgirls from a government-owned secondary last week in Nigeria’s north-western Zamfara State, the state’s governor, Bello Matawalle, has said the incident will not deter

Despite the abduction of the 317 schoolgirls from a government-owned secondary last week in Nigeria’s north-western Zamfara State, the state’s governor, Bello Matawalle, has said the incident will not deter him from negotiating with the bandits, adding that he will utilise repentant bandits to secure their release.

The governor assured residents of the state that his administration is committed to its ongoing peace and dialogue initiative with the bandits, despite the abduction and other nefarious activities of the hoodlums.

Matawalle told a federal government delegation in Gusau that the state government would continue to use repentant bandits who subscribed to the ongoing peace accord to rescue the schoolgirls.

The delegation, led by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, was in the state to commiserate with the government and people on the abduction of the schoolgirls.

On the entourage, were the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Muhammad Dingyadi; Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Pauline Tallen; and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Ms. Sadiya Farouq.

Matawalle said: “For what happened in Jangebe, we are not going to say much about what happened or going on blame games. All we need now is for a safe return of these children. The security agencies need synergy to share relevant intelligence and to strategise in fighting this kind of criminalities without this synergy, no matter what the president is trying to do, will not be possible.

“I assured you again that my government is committed to the peace and dialogue initiative; we are using those that have subscribed to our peace accord; let the president be aware that these children will be rescued soon.”

He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to strengthen the nation’s security in order to get the capable and reasonable security personnel to protect lives and property.

He urged the federal government to deploy additional security personnel in flashpoints in communities across the state, adding that the security manpower of the state is grossly inadequate to tackle the pervading security challenges.

He said: “We have so many crises in different parts of the country, Zamfara is part of it and our security formations in the state are doing their best but something is missing somewhere and it has to be addressed as quickly as possible so as to address the occurrences of any attempt of this kind again.

“The people of Zamfara State have mandated me as their governor to appeal to Mr. President to mobilise more security personnel to the state because we have a shortage of security manpower in the state. Despite the fact that the IG just recently deployed about 275 Special Forces, but because of the huge landmark of the state and different camps of the leaders of bandits, we need more and more presence of security personnel in such areas.”

Matawalle thanked Buhari for the federal government’s concern, noting that very soon the abductees will regain their freedom.

“I strongly believe in the president and his effort in fighting all forms of insurgency and I want to urge him to improve on the nation’s security by ensuring synergy among the security agencies so that confrontations with criminals can be coordinated on the ground and air simultaneously,” the governor said.

Earlier, Sirika had said they were in Zamfara on the directive of Buhari to commiserate with the government and the people over the incident.

He assured the state government that insurgency, banditry and other forms of criminalities would soon be eradicated following rejig of the nation’s security architecture.

Sirika stated that Buhari promised that what happened in Jangebe will not reoccur.

He said new measures had been developed by the federal government to end criminalities.

He said: “His Excellency, the president is saddened by the abduction of the students from Jangebe and reassures that the government is a government that has all the resources and wherewithal to contain these criminalities to a conclusive end.

“He has also commended the efforts of Governor Bello Matawalle in the measures he is taking against armed banditry and assures him that he will continue to support the government’s actions in the state with a view to bringing lasting peace.

“The federal government will continue its partnership with the Zamfara State government and its citizens in resolving the security challenges facing the state.”