Nigeria: Zamfara Denies Giving Hilux Vans, Money to Bandits

Zamfara state in Nigeria.
20 January 2021

Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna, Katsina and Sokoto States have seen more frequent attacks from bandits in recent years, despite heightened security measure in the states.

The Zamfara State Government has denied ever giving cash gifts and Toyota Hilux vehicles to repentant bandits who turned themselves in.

The state government made the rebuttal in a statement by Zailani Bappa, the spokesperson to Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara.

Sahara Reporters had reported that Mr Matawalle gave about 15 brand new Hilux vehicles to some repentant bandits.

According to the report, the bandits now carry out attacks using some of the vehicles given to them by the governor.

But in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday evening, Mr Bappa said the claim by Sahara Reporters was false.

The Zamfara official said, "The attention of Zamfara State Government has been drawn to a jaundiced crap called a story by Sahara Reporters where the medium alleged that His Excellency Governor Bello Mohammed (Matawallen Maradun) has given 15 Hilux vans and 'millions of naira' to repentant bandits who in turn, are now using the same vehicles to attack innocent communities in the state.

"As the ethics of journalism provides, allegation such as this requires balancing from the accused before publication. However, either due to carelessness, Quackery or sheer mischief, the medium went ahead to publish this story, obviously sourced from the enemies of peace in the state without balancing from the side of the Government."

"To disabuse the minds of those law-abiding and patriotic Nigerians, Governor Bello Mohammed used from the meagre resources of the state government to purchase 200 Hilux vans in support of security operatives in the state."

"These vehicles were duly distributed to all security agencies in the state under the supervision of the Inspector-General of the Nigeria Police. The beneficiaries included the Military, the Police, the Customs and Excise, the Immigration Services, the NDLEA, the NSCDC, the FRSC, among others."

Mr Bappa said as part of the state government's peace efforts, the administration is trying to settle down repentant bandits by building a modern Rugga.

"In fact, the state Government is grateful to these so-called repentant bandits who are daily assisting the government in negotiating with those who refuse to surrender and in apprehending those who refuse to surrender."

"With all the programmes of the government towards peace in the state, at no time did it give vehicles or money to the so-called repentant bandits because there was no agreement for such. This is thus, a wicked allegation and simply a figment of the writers' imagination or an intended machination to discredit the administration of His Excellency Governor Bello Muhammad and undermine the peace effort rt in the state."

Efforts to speak to officials of Sahara Reporters were unsuccessful as its Publisher, Omoyele Sowore, declined to comment on Mr Bappa's statement.

Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna, Katsina and Sokoto States have seen more frequent attacks from bandits in recent years, despite heightened security measure in the states.

The Zamfara State Government had in 2019 entered a peace agreement with some repentant bandits.

However, despite this move, communities in the state are still being attacked and residents kidnapped and/or killed.

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