NAF ignored distress call when bandits attacked my domain – Zamfara emir
The Emir of Bungudu, Alhaji Hassan Attahiru, has said killings by bandits are not abating in Zamafara State despite the military operations against the criminals.
The monarch, who spoke with one of our correspondents on Monday night, disclosed that bandits recently stormed his domain in broad daylight and killed 15 people.
The emir said that the air force ignored a distress call when the bandits attacked his domain.
Attahiru stated, “Just on Saturday, in my domain, the bandits struck in broad daylight and killed 15 people. Thirteen people died instantly, while two others gave up the ghost later.
“The worst of all was that when the local government chairman alerted the head of the air force to the attack, the response he got from the other end was that he was not supposed to have picked his (of the LG chairman) call, ‘since you people have decided to disgrace us.’
“When the council chairman informed me of what transpired, I picked my phone and called the air force commander. Three times I did, but he never picked my calls and since Saturday, he has yet to return my calls.”
Attahiru also emphasised that the places where the bandits kept their kidnapped victims had not been reached by the security agencies.
He said, “Nobody is saying they are not doing anything. They need to do more by taking the battle to the bandits’ enclaves, instead of fighting them at the periphery.
“Most times when they strike and retreat, these bandits regroup and launch more ferocious attacks on innocent villagers, accusing them of inviting the security agencies.
“These bandits were still around and wreaking havoc. The security force should take the war to them.”
The Emir of Bungudu also pointed out that kidnapped victims were kept in several places where the bandits had camps, scattered around and not at Dumburum alone.
The traditional ruler said, “We have notified the security agencies about their camps. Some are kept in southern Maru, Bunuwe, in Birnin area, and Dandili. The victims are not actually kept in those villages but in forests and rocky terrains.”
Efforts to reach the Chairman of Bungudu Local Government, Abdulaziz Ahmed Nahuche, to shed more light on his alleged call to the air force did not succeed.
When one of our correspondents put a call to him, his phone initially rang out. Subsequent calls, however, did not go through as of the time of sending this report. It indicated that it was switched off. He had also yet to respond to an SMS sent to him to find out the name of the officer he called.
Also when contacted, spokesman for Operations Sharan Daji and Habun Kunama III, confirmed the attack but denied any knowledge that the security force on ground snubbed calls from the council boss or the emir.
The Assistant Director Army Public Relations, Maj. Clement Abiade, said, “I have not got such report that our troops on the ground ignored calls from people they are on the ground to protect.
“They have all our contacts. My advice is that they should reach out to more than one or two persons, when such a need arises.”
But when contacted, the Nigerian Air Force said that it would not take issue with the traditional rulers in the North-West geopolitical zone, adding that efforts were ongoing under the aegis of the Operation Diran Mikiya to flush out bandits in Zamfara State and other locations in the region.
In an interview with our correspondent, the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said, “We have said that we will not take issue with esteemed royal fathers and traditional rulers. We remain resolute in Operation Diran Mikiya and we will continue with the daily operations. The air strikes on identified and confirmed targets will continue until this banditry is put to an end.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has directed traditional rulers in the North to start community policing and establish local security councils in their domains to tackle banditry and other security crises in the region.
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, who met with the expanded executive council of the northern traditional rulers at the Arewa House in Kaduna State on Tuesday, noted that the government needed “community policing in your various domains so that more information about criminal elements can be obtained in real time.”
The council is headed by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.
In his address obtained by one of our correspondents after the event, Dan-Ali warned the Emirs and other rulers about casting aspersions on security agencies, adding that this would complicate security issues and slow down the tempo of operation.
He said, “Some of the potent security threats that can truncate the relative peace include: banditry, hostage-taking and cattle rustling. These ugly trends are on a daily basis claiming lives and property of citizens and have continued to be sources of concern and fear to our citizens.
“There is the need for recruitment of sufficient local informants who will be procuring vital intelligence on the activities of the bandits; including their location, strength, leadership and sponsors, among others. Additionally, infiltration and penetration of the group will go a long way in providing meaningful insight into how to solve the problems.
“Of course, the community leaders who are living with the people are in the know of these bandits. They know their place of abode, the weapons they acquire, their leadership strength among others.
“I, therefore, request you to reactivate the traditional community policing in your various domains so that more information about criminal elements can be obtained in real time. In this regard, there is the need for the establishment of a local government security council.
“The recent statement made by my Public Relations Officer, Col. Tukur Gusau, was not meant to discredit this august gathering but to serve as a warning to some community leaders that are bent on sabotaging the effort and commitment of the armed forces.”
The minister noted that the government was considering special courts to give speedy trial to those arrested for terrorism, kidnapping and banditry.
“The recent claim by my emirs (on civilians killed in air strikes) needs to be looked into. It is high time that, as a country, we had special courts to give speedy trial to those arrested for terrorism, kidnapping, and banditry and cross-border crimes,” Dan-Ali said.
Meanwhile, the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Adamu Mohammed, will on Tuesday appear before the Senate to address the chamber on the spate of killings, kidnappings and banditry across Nigeria.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, made the announcement at the plenary on Tuesday.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly had last week summoned the police boss over the spate of insecurity across the country.
A tweet by the verified official twitter handle of the President of the Senate, @SPNigeria, later on Tuesday read, “Senate President, Dr Abubakar @BukolaSaraki, today announced on the floor of plenary that the acting IG of @PoliceNG, Mohammad Abubakar Adamu, will honour the invitation to appear before @NGRSenate on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 over issues of insecurity across the country.”
However, the House of Representatives at the plenary on Tuesday resolved to investigate the killing of members of the Boys’ Brigade during an Easter procession in Gombe State.
The resolution followed the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Mrs Aishatu Dukku, with the lawmakers granting her prayer to urge the House to direct the Committee on Internal Affairs “to investigate the matter, make appropriate recommendations and report back in two weeks.”
The lawmakers also observed a one-minute silence in honour of the deceased, while resolving to extend condolence message to the government and people of Gombe State.
Moving the motion, Dukku said, “The House notes the unfortunate incident that occurred on Sunday, April 21, 2019 that led to the death of innocent children during the Boys’ Brigade procession in Gombe. The Boys’ Brigade members were in a procession, celebrating Easter in the Gombe metropolis when a car rammed into them, killing 11 and injuring many others.
“The driver of the car had a heated argument with the children before they made way for him to pass, only for him, in a fit of rage, to turn and drive into them. The driver of the car, who was later identified as an official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, shot at the children before ramming into them.
“Eyewitness report indicates that the NSCDC official was drunk and plunged into the procession on purpose.”
But in spite of the general insecurity in the country, particularly in the North, the Buhari Media Organisation has said Nigeria’s security situation is steadily improving and that security agencies have recorded significant results within the last few months across the country.
The group said the opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s claim that President Muhammadu Buhari administration was not paying proper attention to security issues in the country, was completely off the mark.
The pro-Buhari group made its position known in a statement signed by its chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and secretary, Cassidy Madueke, in Abuja.
The BMO stressed that the PDP had no moral grounds to talk about security issues in Nigeria as Buhari had been busy fixing what had been bequeathed to him by 16 years of PDP’s maladministration.
“While indeed President Buhari met on the ground a weak security structure, and several security challenges, Nigeria’s security situation is being tackled head-on with tangible successes being recorded, especially more recently with prominent arrests made.
Stating that there had been opinion that the administration must not dwell on the past, the group noted that context was important when addressing Nigeria’s social, economic and security issues.