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Zamfara Committee On Disarmament And Matters Arising

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On the 9th of January 2014 Governor Abdulazeez Yari Abubakar of Zamfara set up a thirteen man committee headed by a re-known Islamic scholar Alsheikh Abubakar Abdullahi Tureta to look in to the causes and measures to manage the rising disputes between Fulani herdsmen and local farmers.

The setting up of the committee came barely after series of attacks and reprisal attacks in different part of the state especially the popular Dansadau forest as well as other prone areas like Zurmi, Birnin Magaji, Bukkuyum, Anka and Maradun which led to killing of thousands of people as well as affected the state economy.

Less than two weeks to the presentation of the committee report, there were two major attacks that further raised fear and suspicion as to whether or not the outcomes of the committee may be useful in addressing the security challenges facing the state.

First was the attack on the people of Maitsaba Community in Zurmi where suspected killers alleged to be Fulani numbering over one hundred invaded the community at around one o’clock noon, killed twenty four people burnt structures and food stuffs.

Less than forty eight hours after the Maitsaba massacre, there was another attack at Yargaladima community a suburb of Dansadau area where the suspected killers allegedly cordoned the venue of a meeting by some network of vigilante groups opened fire and killed over one hundred and fifty people indiscriminately.

The most fundamental points that continue to raise concern among the state citizens is the identity of these armed bandits and whether it is true they are Fulani as alleged by the government or even the Hausas.

Before the formation of the committee, the state government and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders in Zamfara have been trading blames as to who masterminded who, and at which point who is to be blame for what?.

The state governor sometime in June last year after the Kizara attack which left over fifty innocent souls dead, openly accused the Fulani for masterminding the attack and expressed the government resolve to empower the vigilante with sophisticated weapons to prepare for self defense.

The Miyatti Allah which is the umbrella body of Fulani people in Zamfara issued statements on different occasions accusing the state government of raising a baseless allegations linking them with the attacks and as such making it confusing for the citizen to know who is responsible for who?.

While the committee members were busy making consultations with stakeholders on how to address the ugly situation, the killings continue and despite constant assurances by the government that the killers will be arrested and brought to book, not every Zamfara citizen will agree with the government policy statement because after every attack, state government and security agencies will come out and repeat same commitment.

ISSUES IN THE COMMITTEE REPORT:

The sixty (61) page report submitted to the state governor on Wednesday 23rd of April 2014 contained so many things that if adopted can help minimized the unwanted killings in different part of the state.

Elaborating on the content of the report, the Secretary of the committee Malam Shehu Maishanu Gulluba explained that, key issue that is considered very critical in addressing the conflicts between the two warring parties is for the state government to call the local vigilante to order and make sure that their operational practices is done in line with the professional standard.

In the report it was highlighted clearly that, some vigilante are found in the habit of going after the Fulani herdsmen and snatched them of their cattle whenever there is misunderstanding between them and local people.

That action according to the committee is not only incisive but capable of influencing Fulani to use any advantage or opportunity to take revenge and the unexpected usually happened.

The report also highlighted the challenges of tempering with the grazing reserve areas mainly provided for the livestock rearing making it a necessity sometime for the Fulani to encroach farm lands.

Though the Secretary was stopped midway during his presentation from going deep in to the content of an issues raised against directorate of afforest ration, he highlighted that officials from the directorates were accused of issuing part of the grazing reserves to farmers for use and that always remain a point of controversy that raised tension between the two parties.

To me and many other ordinary citizen of the state , the content of the report may sound so technical to implement because, as many of  us agreed, issue of insecurity as it affect some part of the state is beyond ethnic rivalry but all that is needed, is un compromised commitment from both the government and security agencies to deal with the root cause of the problem.

 

 

DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE

 

 

The governor immediately after receiving the report directed the Chairman and members of the earlier committee to switch to the disarmament committee and directed them to work out modalities for the suspected armed bandits to surrender their arms and embrace peace.

The governor openly told the committee during his presentation that, the identity of these suspected hoodlums is known and they expressed willingness to engage the government for possible dialogue.

With the governor’s pronouncement, it has become very clear that, the work of the disarmament committee is almost concluded because what is difficult is for a committee like this to deal with those whose identity is not known not the other way round.

But there are key important questions to raise as to how the dialogue will be achieved.

1)   Is this that the identity of these people is known long before now and that they were allowed to execute series of massacres and rendered many house wives to be widows and children to be life time orphans?

2)   Who is going to link the committee with the hoodlums and how is the engagement for dialogue going to take place?

3)   Are they going to be granted amnesty after they surrender their arms? and will they be put on rehabilitation like we experienced with the Niger Delta Militants where many receives million after destroying lives and cripple the nation’s economy?

4)   Which provision did the government made to compensate the families of thousands of innocent people brutally killed at Kizara, Ligyado, Guru, Tungar Bushe, Kango, Kurar Mota, Dangulbi, Tsanu, Dumburum, Yargaladima to mention but a few?

5)    Is the five hundred thousand naira intervention enough to sustain the pain of losing a husband or father in a heartless manner of death?.

I think the disarmament committee should take note of these key issues so that the victims of the massacres may not be left helpless or rather be cheated after the whole process.

 

The best way to ensure justice among the two aggrieved parties is for the umpire to remain neutral and treat everyone equally without being facial to the other.

 

While the disarmament may be the best option for peace to reign in Zamfara, the victims who suffered the notorious actions of these suspected hoodlums needs to be part of the rehabilitation exercise so that they can be help to start a new life.

 

 

THE POLITICS OF THE KILLINGS IN ZAMFARA;

 

 

The opposition People’s Democratic Party in Zamfara always castigated the government by saying there is no justification for spending six hundred million naira monthly as security votes to police and sister security agencies.

Again the, the state government emphasized that it has purchased over two hundred and fifty Hilux Vans since inceptions to police as well as procured reasonable sum to Nigerian Army, Civil Defense, local vigilante and even Hisbah Commission all in a quest to ensure sustainable security of life and properties of the state citizens but, the Likes of Zamfara State former Commissioner of Information Alh Ibrahim Maigandi Gidan goga who is among the state PDP caretakers described the claim as mere political jokes as the intervention failed to alleviate the ordinary citizen from the fear of being killed at any point in time.

The governor and his aides on several occasion maintained a position that the power to control the Nigerian Army, Police and other para-military agencies working in the state belongs to the government at the center and as such his hands are tight.

The governor specifically mentioned that, he is only called the Chief Security Officer by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but he lacks all the requisite power to execute the constitutional mandate of the Chief Security Officer of a state.

Sometime in August last year, while addressing members of the state house of assembly on the state of affairs of the state economy the governor informed the members of the state house of assembly that over six hundred people were killed between May to August last year and there is nothing he can do because he doesn’t have the control of the security operatives in the state.

Minister of State for Works Ambassador Bashir Yuguda Gusau stated at the palace of the Emir of Zamfaran Zurmi Alh Abubakar Atiku, there is no states in the north-west geo-political Zone where security personals were deployed in excess than Zamfara therefore something must be wrong with the state administration because the federal government has done its own part.

So while the citizens are nursing fears of the unknown especially with series of attacks and murder, the political class are making jokes of the whole things and after every attack in Zamfara, the ruling and opposition parties will turn to the radio houses to be trading blames.

It is our hope the disarmament committee after a thorough consultation with those that matters will set the agenda for sustainable peace in Zamfara.

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