The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, has said that some highly placed traditional rulers in restive communities aid bandits to perpetuate criminal activities.
He said the Federal Government was working with the military to tackle the banditry and killings in Zamfara State and the entire North-West region.
The minister added that the traditional rulers also “compromise military operations,” warning that the armed forces would go after “any person or group of persons who choose to connive or sympathisise with bandits to perpetuate crime against law abiding citizens.”
Dan-Ali stated this in a release on Tuesday signed by his Public Relations Officer, Col. Tukur Gusau, saying the military had been directed to deal decisively with anybody identified to be helping the bandits under whatever guise, “no matter how highly placed the person or persons may be.”
The minister said, “The ministry is very concerned about the security challenges in the North-West region and particularly, in states of Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina and Kaduna states.
“Due to the recent prevailing security situation in the states, the Army is already conducting Exercise Harbin Kunama IV in Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto states.
“The purpose of the exercise is to effectively flush out the activities of criminal elements in the North-West.
“The Nigerian Air Force has also intensified air strikes against the bandits in Zamfara. So far, the combined efforts have yielded a lot of successes, leading to the killing of many bandits, rescue of many persons including a renowned Islamic scholar, Sheik Ahmad Suleiman.
“The government is also addressing the remote and immediate causes that gave room to high spate of banditry in the states.”
Continuing, the release stated, “Recently, the government acted on the advice of the Ministry of Defence to suspend all mining activities in Zamfara State and environs following intelligence report that suggested close collaboration between the activities of the bandits and illegal miners.
“However, in spite of the concerted efforts of the armed forces and other security agencies, some unpatriotic persons, including highly placed traditional rulers in the areas, were identified as helping the bandits with intelligence to perpetuate their nefarious actions or to compromise military operations.
“The Ministry of Defence, therefore, wishes to warn any person or group of persons who choose to connive or sympathise with the bandits to perpetuate crime against the law abiding citizens to henceforth retrace their steps or face the full wrath of the law.”