A lot of people are very much unaware of the predicaments of the people of Zamfara. The crisis in Zamfara is beyond banditry it’s a full-blown war going on in Zamfara. The people of Zamfara who were living in peace and harmony with both Hausa and Fulani ethnic groups but have now become sworn enemies simply because one ethnic group believes the State Government is punishing them for the other ethnic group.

The State Government has not been doing well in bringing to an end the insecurity in Zamfara. Zamfara’s insecurity started from Farmers and Herders clashes which saw a lot of people displaced as the clash frequently occur. Many people expected the State Government to intervene and bring an end to the crisis but due to quick response of the state Government. It grew up to cattle rustling.

 Lots of Herders who were in Zamfara were afraid of cattle rustlers, many left Zamfara to neighboring states to continue their businesses. The then Governor introduced vigilantism, people paid money to prevent their cows from being rustled.

However, it was too late as Cattle Rustlers are now aware of gold deposit in Zamfara, the cattle rustlers have grown to full-blown banditry where many of them will come from Niger, Chad, and Mali for cheap labor and they will later become bandits when they see opportunities which were coming up for them as the state government was not focused on securing host communities (military actions). Rather, they were focused on negotiating with them as a way of ending the crisis. 

The state government saw the need for the military to intervene, the military started its operations in Zamfara and had a lot of success stories, the military was also assisted by the vigilante in some of the operations whilst some locals were cooperating.

However, those cooperating with the military were afraid of their lives, many were killed by bandits after snitching on the locations of the bandits, the military also was skeptical about the Intels of some of the locals as many Intels led them to an ambush zone which saw a lot of soldiers paying the supreme price.

Some locals stopped cooperating with the military whilst the military also stopped working with some locals but still had some CIs working with the military who are locals giving them credible intel and the military acting on it.

When Governor Bello Matawalle became the Governor of Zamfara State he resorted to Negotiating with bandits, he asked the bandits to drop their arms and he will give them cows in efforts to bring peace to the state he asked the military to stop all operations in Zamfara state, banned vigilantism and announced that any person who uses vigilantism to stop bandits will be punished this was the peace agreement reached by the state government and the leaders of bandits who met with him. 

Bandits began to flourish more with the presence of gold in the state, illegal miners from Dubai, the US, China started coming into the country more this time with Helicopters and private Jets, the miners bring in weapons as an exchange for gold.

People began to live in fear the more as there was no one to arrest the bandits. People resorted to protecting themselves since vigilante is not allowed in Zamfara, they bought few AKs for themselves as a means of protection.

Zamafra became a safe haven for criminals, security agencies who worked in Katsina said when they are chasing bandits from Kastina as soon as they get to Zamafra that is the end because the Governor had ban military operations there.

Guns according to locals mean nothing to them as they see them every day and they can get them whenever they wanted. People who sorted to protect themselves and killed bandits were detained by the State Government for killing bandits a situation which ruins the coexistence between the Hausa – Fulani in the State, the Hausa who were arrested for killing bandits who were Fulanis, it became serious that Herders can not go out of the bush to a Hausa community they will be lynched whilst Hausas can’t go to a community that is largely a Fulani group they will also be lynched.

Despite all this state government was not balance in maintaining peace and stability in the state. The Hausas felt the Government is supporting the Fulanis whilst the Fulani believed they shouldn’t be persecuted by other people’s crimes because they are of the same tribes.

The State Government needs to understand that both Fulani and Hausas are living like a cat and rat due to the situation arising from banditry, the state government needs to allow the people to live in peace and Harmony, he should also note that he is the Governor of both Hausa and Fulani which makes up Zamfara state not Governor of Fulani.

The State Government should not Negotiate with Bandits anymore as it has proof that Negotiation does not work, punishing offenders breakdown law and order will restore respect to the State Government and will also not make Fulani ethnic groups believe they are been punished because some of them are found in bad actions.

Negotiation with bandits will term the state Government as weak, a situation that will put the state in a state of anarchy. All illegally detained persons should be released this will create a good image as the Government is ready to work with all and sundry. 

The NFZ (No Fly Zone) by the Federal Government is not in any way a plan to take over from the Government but to put an end to the ongoing insecurity in the state, so the state can live in Harmony again.

DISCLAIMER: Views expressed are strictly the opinion of the author.

Counter-terrorism Expert, Crime analyst


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