President Muhammadu Buhari has given bandits in Zamfara two months to surrender, according to Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle.
In a state-wide broadcast on Tuesday evening, Matawalle said the president also ordered the deployment of 6,000 troops to crush the bandits if they failed to surrender their arms.
The governor made the statement a few hours after traditional rulers in the state told the service chiefs, who visited the state, that there were over 30,000 bandits in Zamfara forests, a number that far outweighs the less than 10,000 troops deployed to the state to tackle insecurity.
The directive by President Buhari came about a week after he declared Zamfara a no-fly zone and halted mining activities to stem what presidency officials described as “arms-for-gold swap” activities in the state.
In his broadcast last night, the Zamfara governor said he undertook a four-day working visit to Abuja to brief President Buhari and other critical stakeholders on the security situation in his state.
“In my discussion with President Muhammadu Buhari and the security higher commands in Abuja, it was resolved that 6,000 additional troops will be deployed to complement the effort of other security forces in tackling the security challenges in the state.
“The troops will soon arrive in the state for their operations and we are grateful to the federal government.
“The president has agreed to a time frame within which the recalcitrant bandits should surrender their weapons and key into our peace initiative.
“The peace deal initiated by my administration has recorded successes including the disarmament, securing the release of hundreds of kidnapped persons, reopening of markets and the resumption of other economic activities across the state.
“Even though we are enjoying relative peace as a result of this dialogue and reconciliation programme, some armed bandits refused to key into the programme and they sustain their attacks on our communities.
“The government has equally observed that there is sabotage by some unscrupulous elements within and outside the state,” he said.
The governor also directed traditional rulers and local council administrators to remain in their domains to monitor the movement or influx of suspicious characters.
“Conveyance of more than two persons on a motorbike is hereby banned with immediate effect. No movement of motorcycles in groups in all the nooks and crannies of the state and security operatives are directed to apprehend the violators of this order,” he said.
Governor Matawalle further reaffirmed the ban on the activities of Yan Sakai (local self-help groups) in the state, adding that whoever was found with a gun would be dealt with accordingly.