Bandits operating in the Zamfara State kidnapped 1,190 persons and collected N970 million in ransom between 2011 and 2019, Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle revealed on Friday.
The governor also disclosed that there are about 30,000 bandits in 100 camps in Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kaduna, Niger and Katsina states, while about 2,619 persons have been killed the armed bandits terrorising the North-West geopolitical zone of the country.
Matawalle reeled out these figures in Kaduna through his Commissioner for Information, Ibrahim Dosara, while explaining why his administration favours negotiating with the bandits, insisting that the option remains the only solution to the insecurity in the North-West region.
Dosara said: “Before the coming of the present administration of His Excellency Dr Bello Mohammed Matawallen Maradun on May 29th 2019 as the Executive Governor of Zamfara state, Zamfara people were in a devastating state of dilemma and fear of the unknown due to rural banditry. Rampant killings, maiming, kidnapping, raping, vandalism and attacks became the order of the day.
“From available records, over 2,619 people were killed between 2011 and 2019. This is in addition to the 1,190 people kidnapped by the bandits. The records also show that the N970 million was paid as ransom. While 14,378 animals were rustled within the period and over 100,000 people were displaced from their ancestral homes.
“People were traumatized. Farmers were prevented from going to their farms to cultivate the usual food and cash crops for their daily needs. There was general food insecurity in the state in particular and the region in general. The economy of the state was devastated by the crisis.
“This is in addition to the proliferation of both light and heavy weapons, with a high influx of bandits from the neighbouring countries, with no solution in sight. The crisis defied all forms of solution.
“This is in addition to a large number of bandits camps across the state and beyond. At least there are almost one hundred (100) different bandit camps in Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kaduna, Niger and Katsina, with no fewer than 300 bandits in each of these camps having sophisticated weapons with them.”
“Coupled with the shortage of manpower in the security sector and a very poor intelligence network. Yet, the governor must ensure the protection of the lives and property of the people.
“Now tell me, which is the best option for the governor? To fold his arms to watch his people being killed or to go for dialogue and continue to use the repentant bandits to convince the recalcitrant bandits to save the lives of the governed?”