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Banditry: COAS pledges support for Zamfara state over initiative for reformed bandits to surrender; insist on de-radicalization, disarmament & release of captives.

Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai has pledged support to the initiative by the Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, to tackle the security challenges in the state by engaging in dialogue particularly as the bandits and other criminal gangs have signified willingness to surrender their weapons.

Speaking when the governor visited him in office on Wednesday evening, Buratai said, “We are quite interested in the security situation in Zamfara state and more so the democratic process that is managed by the governor. You have started very well as the executive governor.

“The security of the first place is quite fundamental in any society and it is essentially the state’s responsibility. For the first few weeks of your tenure in office, we have seen the giant steps that you have taken towards ameliorating the security challenge in the state and by extension in the whole of the northwestern states and also the whole of the country.

“We are 100 per cent in support of whatever the civil administration decide towards bringing about peace and security in our country. We have remained apolitical and indeed the military is an instrument of the state for it to achieve the state objectives in bringing about peace and development to the country.

“Let me say that the political direction is key and the great leadership trait that you have exhibited. This is what further contributed to the state of peace. Today’s major success has been achieved and we are ready to go along with the step you have taken to dialogue and to ensure that the peace process does not fail.

Emphasizing that achieving peace and stability is a collective effort, the COAS said, “Just about two days ago, the combined troops of the military including the police and the state services went from Zamfara into Katsina state to flush out these bandits and a lot of them were either neutralised or captured or absconded from their camps.

“This is one of the pressures that the army had put on the criminals that have forced them to look for the dialogue option. In this regard, I want to say that the dialogue option must be comprehensive, there must be disarmament which is quite fundamental and also the issue of release of captives which is ongoing and you have started.

“We will support you to ensure that there is complete disarmament and equally the concept of deradicalization and other political process which I believe the government will take note of and see how it can implemented not only in Zamfara state but across the states that are facing this banditry especially Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states.

Earlier, Gov. Matawalle said he came to show appreciation to the army chief for the effort of the army to flush out banditry activities in the state.

He said the army commanders in the state had given the government the necessary support to address the security challenge in the state adding, “We have recorded success through the initiative of dialogue that our government has adopted” adding that, he believed that dialogue was the best option.

He said that banditry activities in Zamfara state has reduced by over 90 per cent, adding that the effort of the military made the bandits to opt for dialogue.

“The bandits told us that they would not have embrace peace if the army was not giving them too mush trouble. So we agreed that army should reduce attack on them so that they can come out.

“We have secured the release of over 120 captives including foreign nationals and arrangement is on ground to release another 25 captives including women and children.

He said that his government was ready to cooperate with the military to end banditry activities in the state, pledging that logistic supports like vehicles would be made available to the army.

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