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Ray of light in Zamfara tunnel

News out of Zamfara in the last fortnight indicate that killings and carnage that bedeviled the state for nearly a decade may finally be coming to an end. The state’s Police Commissioner, Usman Nagogo, said last week that armed bandits’ activities in the state have reduced by more than 90 per cent following the ongoing Peace and Reconciliation Initiative. The  state’s new governor, Alhaji Bello Mutawalle set up the Peace and Reconciliation Initiative under the leadership of the Police Commissioner “to peacefully negotiate a complete ceasefire” between the bandits and the local vigilante known as ‘Yan Sakai.

CP Nagogo said the command organised separate meetings with Fulani and Hausa leaders, members of the Civilian Joint Task Force and various bandit groups. They then brought all of them together at an enlarged meeting chaired by the state governor. He said at the enlarged meeting, accusations and counter accusations were made but in the end, an understanding was reached which led to the release of over 50 kidnapped persons from both the bandits and the volunteers’ sides.

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Daily Trust reported on July 5 that ‘Yan Sakai and the armed bandits had started exchange of captives as part of the peace process. On that day, twenty-five Fulani women, men and children held by the Yan Sakai since last April were released to CP Usman Nagoggo at the palace of the Emir of Dansadau Alhaji Hussaini Umar. The next day, the bandits unconditionally released 15 kidnapped victims. as part of agreements on the ongoing peace and reconciliation process initiated by the Zamfara State government. Release of these 15 kidnapped persons, in Shinkafi Local Government, brought to 40 the number of kidnap victims released within 72 hours as part of the peace deal, a great achievement indeed.

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A day later, the bandits released another eleven kidnap victims as part of the peace deal. The victims, who were held in captivity for more than two months, were released to CP Nagogo at Gidan Dawa forest in Kaura Namoda local government. The police then handed over all the released persons to the governor. CP Nagogo then announced that the next phase of the peace deal is “to start disarmament of illegal weapons from the repentant bandits and Yansakai since the peace accord has now opened a new page. One can see Fulanis going to markets freely which confirms that peace has been achieved unlike before, when the warring sides killed or maimed anyone from the opposite side of the divide.”

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We commend CP Usman Nagogo for these extraordinary achievements within so short a time. He is an exemplary police officer who is imbued with humanity, patriotic zeal and total commitment to duty and to peace. As some observers have pointed out, it was intense and sustained pressure brought to bear on the bandits by combined military, police and DSS operations that forced them to the negotiating table. This progress would also not have been possible without Governor Mutawalle’s open mindedness, his energy, patriotism, vision and wisdom, which was lacking in his flippant predecessor.

We urge the military and police not to relax their pressure on the bandits until they totally disarm. Afterwards, ‘Yan Sakai, whose overzealousness in profiling and killing alleged enemies in the course of protecting their communities helped to worsen the situation, should also be disbanded. We urge all stakeholders to firmly maintain this course until Zamfara State once again regains its pride of place as the home of peace and tranquility.

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