Foreigners operating mining sites in Zamfara State have been given 48 hours to vacate the locations as the Federal Government on Sunday launched an operation to flush out bandits terrorising residents of the state.
The government formally extended its Operation Puff Adder to Zamfara State on Sunday.
The operation had been launched earlier last week to address rising incidents of kidnappings along the Abuja-Kaduna Highway.
This directive is coming as President Buhari Muhammadu Buhari described as “ridiculous,” suggestions in some quarters that he did nothing to stop the killings in Zamfara.
He also appealed to some people whom he claimed were politicising the killings to stop henceforth.
But the Peoples Democratic Party said if the President was finding the “job too difficult to do, he should call for help or quit.”
The opposition party also advised President Buhari to rejig his security architecture and find lasting solutions to the myriad of problems facing the country and the citizens.
However, while addressing State House correspondents in Abuja on Sunday after a meeting with heads of other security agencies, the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, explained that there was a link between mining and banditry in Zamfara State.
Adamu stated that government’s first move was to immediately suspend all mining activities in the state until further notice.
He warned that any foreign miner, who flouted the order, did so at the risk of losing his operational licence.
Adamu said the security operation against the bandits would be jointly carried out by the police, the military and the Department of State Services.
The IG’s text read partly, “As part of sustained efforts to flush out and permanently put an end to banditry and criminality in Zamfara State in particular and the North-West in general, the Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with the Nigerian military and other security services has commenced Operation Puff Adder, which is a full-scale security offensive against the bandits.
“The operation is aimed at reclaiming every public space under the control of the bandits, arrest and bring to book all perpetrators of violence in the area and their collaborators, achieve a total destruction of all criminal camps and hideouts, mop up all illicit weapons fuelling the violence and attain a full restoration of law and order in the affected communities.
“Our commitment at protecting the sanctity of life and property is irrevocable, and we will not scale down the pressure on the bandits until they are totally flushed out.
“Meanwhile, in the face of intelligence report that has clearly established a strong and glaring nexus between the activities of bandits and illicit miners – with both mutually re-enforcing each other – the Federal Government of Nigeria has directed as follows:
“Mining activities in Zamfara and other affected states are hereby suspended with immediate effect. Consequently, any mining operator who engages in mining activities in the affected locations henceforth will have his licence revoked.
“All foreigners operating in the mining fields should close and leave within 48 hours. I want to assure the general public, especially in the affected areas, that the security services are doing their best to address the situation.
“May I appeal for the cooperation of the local communities, especially the traditional and religious leaders within the community.”
The IG also said that some persons used the social media to spread what he called “fake news” on the security situation in Zamfara State.
He appealed to such persons to verify their information before passing it to the public.