No fewer than 544 people abducted by bandits in the last three months have been rescued by security operatives in Zamfara State, authorities have said.
The state governor, Bello Matawalle, disclosed this on Friday at an event held at the Government House in Gusau, the state capital.
He explained that the victims, who included 95 students, were those rescued from bandits since the government announced a set of stringent measures on August 27 to further curb the activities of bandits troubling the peace in the state.
A breakdown of the figure shows that 18 are students of the College of Agriculture and Animal Science, Bakura, 75 students are from the Government Day Secondary School, Kaya, while the remaining two are students from the Federal Government College in Birnin Yauri, Kebbi State.
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The security measures, Governor Matawalle explained, are intended to give security personnel the leeway in fighting bandits and the government’s action is progressively yielding results within the short period of time under review,
He also disclosed that the security operatives have arrested many suspected bandits and their collaborators across the 14 local government areas of the state, as well as intercepted a large cache of alcoholic drinks and hard drugs meant for the criminals.
“The new measures are taking much (toll on bandits), especially the shutting down of mobile telecommunications network for public security and safety which are the primary objective of a responsible government,” said the governor.
He, however, cautioned residents against taking the laws into their hands – even in an obvious breach, saying the government would no longer condone the wanton killing of people in marketplaces, as was the case in the past.
“Anybody caught breaking this rule will face the appropriate wrath of the law,” Governor Matawalle warned. “I, therefore, call on vigilante groups and concerned individuals to follow the rule of law and due process in addressing any issue that might arise in such situations.”
He commended the security personnel operating in Zamfara for their efforts in dislodging bandits and their informants, as well as destroying their hideouts.
The governor also thanked the residents for their cooperation and support to the military exercises and government programmes and project aimed at taking the state to greater heights.
He called on traditional rulers and other community leaders to ensure that the new measures were monitored and tailored to success, to ensure a further relaxation in due course.
At the event, Governor Matawalle swore in two new commissioners, 10 special advisers, eight permanent secretaries, and the newly appointed Auditor-General for the state.
He asked the new officials, who were subjected to swearing with the Holy Quran dissociating themselves from banditry, to play their part in ensuring the return of peace to the state.
The governor also announced the re-opening of selected markets in the state – all livestock markets in Gummi, Bagega, Danjibga, Kasuwar Daji, Tsafe, Talata-Mafara, and Nasarawar Godel.