25th December 2018
In the last few years, Zamfara State has been subjected to massacres and the killing of thousands of innocent citizens, mainly rural folks. The brutality with which these attacks are carried out are unprecedented in recent times in any part of Nigeria. The outbreak of riots in Tsafe local government on Saturday 22nd December, 2018, which according to some reports, have led to the deaths of over 100 people in the villages of Asaula, Kwadawa, Dogon Kawo, Mandaba, Yanza, Kulutu,Sakkya and Fegin Dakai, all in eastern Tsafe, has again brought to the fore the issue of insecurity in Zamfara State. On Monday, December 24, thousands of scared citizens in the State came out en masse to protest, demanding that the Nigerian State protects them from killers and bandits who have killed over one hundred people in the past two weeks, burnt their houses and destroyed their farmlands and rustled their cattle. The reckless pronouncements and ineptitude of the government of Abdul Aziz Yari has further worsened the security situation in the state. The destruction of the campaign posters of Mr. President shows the extent to which people are aggrieved against the efforts so far put in place to contain the problem. This has the potential of eroding the credibility of Mr. President in one of his strongholds.
This carnage is not only limited to Tasfe, but is widespread all over the towns and villages of Zamfara. Innocent citizens, made up of defenceless men, women and children are slaughtered routinely with no help in sight. Women and young girls are raped in the presence of their parents and husbands; some are kidnapped, carried into the bush, subjected to incessant rape, impregnated and sent back to their villages. Consequently, many villages in Zamfara state have been deserted. Economic activities have come to a standstill as farmers have been ordered by the bandits not to farm. Those who dared them have been killed. Herders are also not spared. Thousands of cattle have been rustled and many herders killed. Many people have also been kidnapped for ransom. These developments have had a negative impact on the Federal Government’s agricultural policy of Anchor Borrower’s Programme (ABP) , and other social intervention programmes.
So far, the security measures put in place in Zamfara have failed. The massive demonstration that took place in Tsafe yesterday against the failure of the security agencies which degenerated into the riots indicates that people’s patience has run out. All these happenings indicate that there is a leadership vacuum in Zamfara state and that whatever security measures put in place have failed woefully. This, therefore calls for drastic measures to arrest the situation and prevent the descent into total anarchy, with dire consequences to Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna states and the neighbouring states of Niger Republic.
The Zamfara crisis should become a turning point indicating a renewed determination of the Nigerian State and its security agencies move from condemning such wanton killings to checkmating the activities of the attackers.
It is time for the President to take immediate and drastic action: We recommend as follows:
1) Immediate declaration of a State of Emergency in Zamfara State to enable to Federal Government initiate a series of actions that would address the crisis;
2) The dispatching of special forces to the forests and affected villages to rout out the terrorists and kidnappers;
3) Government should interact frequently with community leaders and other relevant stakeholders in the search for lasting solution to the crisis;
4) The renewed commitment of the leadership of the security agencies as part of a renewed effort to accelerate the war against terrorism, insurgency, mass kidnapping and mass murder.
Prof Jibrin Ibrahim, Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja
Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, Centre for Democratic Research and Training, Zaria
Prof Massoud Omar, Centre for Democratic Research and Training, Zaria
Dr. Saluihu Zubairu Mustapha, Department of History, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria,
Mal. Mohammed Abubakar Nasiru, Department of History, Ahmadu Bello university, Zari