By Ibrahim Baba
Zamfara State’s Council of Chiefs has expressed dismay over the statement credited to Minister of Defence, Mansur Ali, accusing traditional rulers of aiding bandits in the ongoing killings of innocent villagers in the affected areas.
In a press statement issued to journalists on Thursday, in Gusau, the state’s capital, after an emergency meeting of the council of chiefs, the spokesperson of the chiefs and Emir of Anka, Attahiru Ahmad, said the council challenges the Minister of Defence, Mr Ali to name any traditional ruler involved in aiding the bandits.
The emirs said they, as a matter of urgency, dare the minister to name the traditional rulers involved in the reprehensible activities for the government to take measures against them.
The chiefs opined that failure to name the traditional rulers would make Mr Ali’s statement false and an attempt to tarnish the good image of the traditional leaders.
The statement further said that over the years, traditional rulers have cooperated with government and security agents by providing necessary information about locations and names of the criminals.
It, however, said that the government failed to act up to expectations to address the situation.
“The council noted that air strikes undertaken by the military did not hit the main target, as areas shelled were not actual hideouts of bandits and the victims were innocent civilians,” the statement added.
“Report from Mutu in Gusau the state capital and Tsafe Local Government Area, Tangaram in Anka Local Government Area and Dumburum in Zurmi Local Government Councils among others indicated that the areas shelled were not the actual bandits’ hideouts and the victims were innocent peasants.
However, the statement did not include the number of casualties hit by the misdirected air strikes in the affected areas.
The council of chiefs said effort to end banditry activities in Zamfara would only be achieved if the main camps of the bandits are taken over by security personnel stationed there for a considerable period of time.
“This will deprive the criminals’ mobility and supply routes, thus securing all the affected areas.