The committee on armed banditry set up by the Zamfara State government yesterday submitted its report, with a recommendation for the removal of five emirs and 33 district heads in the state. Presenting the 300-page report to Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle, the chairman of the committee, former Inspector General of Police Muhammad Abubakar, said it recommended the deposition of the emirs and district heads (whose names were not made public) following their involvement in the series of atrocities committed by armed bandits and cattle rustlers in the state.
The committee also called for the outright dismissal of four police officers, promotion of seven police officers, court marshal of 10 military officers and promotion of one. Those recommended for sack were found to be accomplices to cattle rustlers and bandits.
They also asked the government to cater for families of two slain military officers in recognition of their roles in returning peace to the state. Some top civil servants in the state were recommended for sack .
The committee was constituted by Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle in July to find the immediate and remote causes of armed banditry and cattle rustling and proffer lasting solutions to the problems that have plagued the state for years. “We sought memoranda from all security agencies, youth groups, Fulani leaders, farmers and all other stakeholders. We paid courtesy calls on emirs and we had a series of interactions which were very fruitful. “In the cause of our interactions with Fulani leaders and bandits, many of them confessed that they were forced into cattle rustling and armed banditry by circumstances relating to the emirs’ involvement and injustices they suffered in the hands of the traditional rulers,” he added. The former IGP added that more than 6000 lives were lost, over 4000 women were widowed and 25,000 children were orphaned, in addition to N3bn paid as ransom by several families to kidnappers to free their loved ones. Part of the recommendations of the committee was that the state government should overhaul and completely restructure all the 17 emirate councils in the state, as some traditional rulers have become vulnerable in the hands of their subjects. It also said the state government should establish a foundation for orphans and widows with N50bn channelled to the foundation and revoke all lands allocated to farmers and companies. In addition, there should be total disarmament of armed men in all parts of the state immediately, among others. Reacting to the development, Matawalle commended the foresight of the committee and promised to discuss the recommendations with President Muhammadu Buhari with a view to launching a N50bn Orphans and Widows Foundation in the first quarter of 2020. He said anyone found to have been involved in perpetrating, conniving, conspiring, aiding or abetting banditry would be punished in accordance with the law, adding that no punishment would be considered too severe.