Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu yesterday said that President Muhammadu Buhari has directed security agencies to shoot anyone seen with AK-47.
Shehu, who disclosed this in an interview with the BBC, said the president directed a clampdown on bandits who have refused to surrender.
On the efforts being made to rid Zamfara and other northern states of bandits, Shehu said the government is resorting to lethal force.
“The president has ordered security forces to go into the bushes and shoot whoever they see with sophisticated weapons like AK-47,” he said in the interview monitored by TheCable.
“He ordered that whoever is seen with terrible weapons at all should be shot immediately.”
‘Jets being used to transport arms to Zamfara’
Shehu also said the Federal government declared Zamfara a no-fly zone following intelligence that arms are being transported to the bandits with private jets.
He said the jets are also used to cart away gold from the state to Dubai, which, according to him, prompted the ban on mining activities also announced on Tuesday.
“These jets are being used to pick up gold that is being mined in some parts of Zamfara and exported. This is strong because at the moment,” he said.
“There is a Nigerian gold market in Dubai. The government is losing, the people of this country are losing, that’s why it is said that gold mining is banned for those who are not made by the government.”
The ban on mining activities in Zamfara was first announced in April 2017 amid reports that actors going after the state’s gold reserves are fuelling its security crisis.
Commitment to end insecurity lacking — North-East govs
Meanwhile, North East Governors, yesterday, called on Federal Government to be more proactive and committed to the fight against insurgency and terrorism in the country, saying the current situation suggests that the commitment was not there.
The governors’ position came on a day Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, asked the Federal Government to also extend to Benue, Taraba and Borno the ‘’no fly zone’’ order placed on Zamfara State by President Muhammadu Buhari, arguing that choppers also drop arms in these states for bandits and insurgents.
At the meeting were the governors of Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe states, the deputy governors of Yobe and Taraba represented their principals.
Speaking during the 4th North-East Governors’ Forum in Bauchi, Chairman of the Forum and governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum said the Federal government needs to seek support from neighbouring countries, especially Chad and Niger, to be able to provide joint action with possibility of ending the crisis.
Zulum also called on the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, to delegate powers to prosecute terrorists to state Attorneys-General for quick and effective prosecution.
He said: “The current security situation seems to have defied solutions and is negatively affecting virtually all aspects of our lives. The appointment of new service chiefs we hope will bring a new set of strategic initiative to tackle the insurgency which is taking new form with focus on soft targets.
“Most of the new service chiefs are familiar with the theatre of war and may not be having much challenge as we expect a new, significant improvement in security situation in the north and country at large. We expect them to offer counter attack and forestall future attack.
“We are using this opportunity to call on the federal government to seek support from our neighbours, especially the Republic of Chad, Niger to be able to provide joint action with possibility of ending this crisis.
“The Federal Government has to look into the possibility of engaging mercenaries to end this insurgency because it seems the commitment is not there. Therefore, for us to end this insurgency, we must be committed and bring in external support, mercenary to end this insurgency.
“In addition to the logistical support we have been rending to the armed forces in the fight against insurgency, in the sub-region we should also look at forming security outfit within the constitution of operational visibility as it is done in other parts of the country.
“In the prosecution of terrorists, we must make efforts to avoid the current challenges associated with the process which usually takes a long time.
“We urge the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, to delegate power to states’ Attorneys-General to facilitate the prosecution of terrorists. We want states to be able to prosecute terrorists because justice delayed is justice denied.
“Without subduing insurgency, banditry and kidnapping, all the socio-economic activities of our people may be in futility. Some of the critical infrastructures in the states have become a target of destruction by terrorists.
“In the case of Borno, the terrorists broke the electricity transmission, subjecting the state to total darkness in the past seven weeks.”
He also emphasised the significance of protecting schools. “Provision of security to our schools has now become a complete necessity, in view of the current situation where innocent students are subjected to bandit attacks. We need to provide effective security in our various institutions, especially boarding schools.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, called for creation of state police, reiterating his belief that recruitment of locals in the Armed Forces to guard their own localities would drastically reduce insurgency in the North East and nationwide.
He noted further that the state police would provide complementary efforts to the police in ensuring wider coverage of the nation in terms of police protection.
Recall that Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, also called for state police last week, saying it was one sure way of curtailing the insecurity in the nation.
No-fly zone saga
Meanwhile, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, has appealed to the Federal Government to extend its “no-fly zone” order on other states with security challenges as Zamfara.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, after a five-hour national security meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Tuesday, had declared Zamfara a “no fly zone,” following incessant banditry and kidnappings in the state.
ACF chairman and former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who made the appeal in a statement yesterday, also congratulated the people and government of Zamfara State on the release of the 279 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, who were abducted in their hostels last Friday.
Though he expressed happiness over the “no fly zone,” the ACF leader pleaded with the government to extend same to states, such as Benue, Taraba and Borno,saying there are rumours that helicopters frequently drop arms for bandits and insurgents operating in these states.
“We believe that such an extended ban will curtail the operations of the criminals in these areas,” ACF stated.