The Emir of Anka, who is also the Chairman of the Zamfara State Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Attahiru Ahmad, has again taken a swipe at the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, for accusing traditional rulers of aiding banditry.
The traditional ruler, who stated this in an exclusive interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday, said the minister ought to have been fired by President Muhammadu Buhari for making this allegation.
The emir, who described the minister’s allegation as serious, said Dan-Ali, who hails from Birnin Magaji Local Government Area of Zamfara State, ought to have relocated to his local government as part of efforts to tackle banditry.
He said, “It is very unfortunate for the defence minister to accuse us of aiding banditry. If it were in another country, the minister would have been fired because it is a very serious allegation. He said it was not only the traditional rulers in Zamfara that were aiding the bandits but even those in other parts of the North. But we kept quiet because he is our own. Go to his local government area and see what is happening. So, as a defence minister, he should have relocated there.”
The traditional ruler expressed disappointment with the performance of some newspapers (not The PUNCH) which reported that the Zamfara emir made a U-turn on their allegations that the Nigerian Air Force mistakenly killed innocent people during its operations against bandits.
Ahmad stated, “They (journalists) said I made a “U-turn.” There wasn’t any time I made any U-turn and I was surprised that this came from a reputable media organisation. When the military officers came here on a visit, they mentioned it frankly that I was sincere with them and they were all in a sober mood. There was nothing wrong with our statement. All we said was that mistakes could happen.
“It happened everywhere in the world. It happened in America, England and other countries. There were some mistakes during military operations in some of our villages. So it is not a denial. Anybody can come and see what we are saying. It is something that can be seen. You can see the damage, and we have people who lost their relations. They are there for questioning. We asked the soldiers to come and we would take them to places where this happened.
“Even you as a journalist, if you want to go, I will direct you to Tangram and you will see the damage and you can interview the relatives of those killed. The same thing happened in Dungurum area of Zurmi Local Government. It happened in Gusau and Tsafe local government areas too.”
However, the emir commended the Federal Government for deploying troops to the state to combat banditry.
But he noted that the troops deployed were not adequate.
Ahmad stated, “I have already explained that I have an able officer deployed in my domain. The only hindrance is that the troops deployed here are very few in number and have no required equipment to fight the bandits. Nevertheless, the leader of the team acts promptly and very fast whenever there is a problem.”
According to him, the soldiers are seriously inadequate, “not only in my domain, but in the whole state.”
Ahmad appealed to the Federal Government to act “as quickly as possible by coming to our rescue because if nothing is urgently done, there is going to be human tragedy in Zamfara.”
The monarch added, “These bandits will one day come to the major towns to attack people if they are not effectively controlled. With the number of the bandits and their sophisticated weapons, I think they can attack any local government headquarters. So, we are appealing for deployment of more soldiers.”
According to him, the bandits have enough money to get whatever they want.
He stated, “Because if you have money in Nigeria, you can get anything you want. So these bandits are very rich.
“For example, if they abduct a person, they will collect up to N5m ransom or even N10m and the money will be paid in a maximum of two weeks. So by the time they are collecting N5m from one person, others are also waiting to pay for the release of their brothers.”