Zamfara bandit’s coronation exposes elite collusion — The PUNCH Editorial

Posted by News Express | 27 July 2022 | 337 times

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THE emerging facts from the conferment of a chieftaincy title on a notorious bandit and alleged mass murderer confirm elite collusion and a wrong response to terrorism by the Nigerian state. Nigerians were stunned when Adamu Aliero, wanted by police in three states for over 100 murders, was turbaned as ‘Sarkin Fulani’ –leader of Fulani – by the Emir of Yandoto, Zamfara State, Aliyu Marafa, ostensibly to keep other bandits away and allow farming and commerce to resume in the area. This is appeasement taken too far; Aliero must be hunted down and brought to justice while the emir, all the officials and security personnel that facilitated the shameful spectacle, should be exposed, prosecuted, and dismissed from public office.

Aliero’s attempted legitimisation was an abject capitulation to non-state actors. It signals helplessness and the failure of formal authorities to enforce their writ, and loss of monopoly over the instruments of coercion, a major condition of state sovereignty. In the North, elite collusion with criminals is thriving.

Locals in Tsafe town, venue of the event, told newsmen that over 100 terrorists were in attendance, as Aliero was conferred with the title of Sarkin Fulanin Yandonton Daji. The emir declared, “Your appointment and subsequent turbaning today is in line with the demand for peace and reconciliation efforts needed for our people in our emirate, Tsafe LGA, Zamfara State and Nigeria as a whole.”

Following public outrage, the Zamfara State Government dissociated itself from the ceremony, suspended the emir and directed the district head of Yandoto to take charge of the emirate. Governor Bello Matawalle set up an investigative committee. The police also reaffirmed their hunt for Aliero and the N5 million bounties for his capture.

However, several disturbing facts assault Nigerians. First, the Zamfara State Government, the Tsafe LG and security agencies are being hypocritical. The event was well publicised in advance. The government, police, State Security Service, LG, and district officials cannot claim ignorance. The LG chief, Samaila Mudi, allegedly endorsed it as a “peace-making effort.” If truly they were not involved, they had ample time to scuttle the ceremony. They did not.

News outlets reported that senior state and LG functionaries attended the event. These included a retired deputy inspector-general of police, and currently the state Commissioner for Security and Home Affairs, a representative of the state ministry of information and district officials. Police officers were also reportedly present. In any case, the bloodthirsty bandit has told Deutsche Welle radio that he was practically begged to accept the title.

Second, this continues Nigerian governments’ ludicrous policy of appeasement of terrorists and criminals. A culture of unlawful amnesty for hardened criminals has taken root. Another notorious bandit group led by Bello Turji was in 2020 gifted with 15 Hilux vehicles, cows, and cash in exchange for surrendering his arms and giving up crime. Within weeks, he returned with greater deadliness, having used the bribe to purchase more arms and attract more desperadoes to his army.

A bandit leader told the BBC on Monday that the N60 million ransom paid by the government for the release of 300 schoolgirls kidnapped in Zamfara in 2021 was partly used to purchase weapons Those similarly pardoned as “repentant bandits” by the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, soon returned to crime with greater ferocity.

Modern society is anchored on law and order, and punishment for crimes is an essential ingredient. According to Britannica, punishment “is justified by its deterrence of criminal behaviour and by its other beneficial consequences for individuals as well as for society.” The federal and northern state governments severely undermine society by reckless amnesty outside the law. Aliero is wanted for the 2020 murder of over 52 persons in Katsina; he is wanted in Zamfara for similar crimes.

In a blood-chilling interview he granted the BBC Africa Eye programme, he denied kidnapping people but boasted: “My men do that (kidnapping); I just go and kill them (people).”

The responsibility of the government and the security agencies is to arrest him and his killer gang and bring them to justice. The appeasement policy should be stopped. Sadly, the military, whose personnel are also bearing the brunt of the terrorists, also engage in the imprudent practice. While the military constantly announce the supposed “surrender” of thousands of “repentant” terrorists, Islamic insurgents are spreading from their North-East base to the entire North and moving southwards.

The audacious attack on Kuje Prison in the Federal Capital Territory demonstrates their resilience. In the 12 months to October 2021, 964 security personnel were killed in combatant attacks, 642 of them soldiers, reported SBM Intelligence. In June, 34 soldiers were among 48 security personnel killed in a terrorist ambush in Shiroro LGA, Niger State. In the first three months of this year, 1,743 Nigerians were murdered by assorted non-state actors with Niger and Zamfara topping the list, reported The Cable Index.

Ill-conceived amnesty cannot work as the rewards from kidnapping, cattle rustling, and looting are huge; in contrast, there is often no price to pay for criminality. Very few bandits or terrorists are put on trial. Instead, some are rewarded with amnesty; chieftaincy is the latest dimension.

The saga makes it obvious that the authorities know the bandits and their hideouts. In many communities, they roam freely. Emerging testimonies show that it was the emirate council that reached out to Aliero. A notable Islamic cleric and some journalists have been meeting with bandits. Terrorists negotiate freely with relatives of kidnap victims for ransom using telephones.

Nigerians therefore deserve to know why the SSS, military and police cannot locate and storm their camps, take them out, and free their captives.

There is another dimension: the emirate may have acted out of desperation; repeatedly, residents have been attacked, many kidnapped, their cattle and produce plundered, their women raped, and barns torched. The few police outposts are undermanned and under-equipped and therefore easily overrun. Vigilance groups armed with cutlasses, bows and arrows and locally-made guns, are helpless against hundreds of terrorists armed with sophisticated weapons.

Therefore, state police must be established without delay as the single failed federal policing system is anomalous in a federation. There should no longer be ungoverned territories in Nigeria.

he scandal should put paid to the policy of appeasement. Those who orchestrated the conferment of the title should be severely punished. Finally, we reiterate our call on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and the National Assembly to declare a full-scale state of emergency in Zamfara State to destroy banditry.

Source: News Express

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