The Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, Tuesday disclosed that the bandits terrorising the state were more equipped than the entire security forces deployed to combat their activities, adding that bandits in the North-West state had stockpiled as much as 500 AK-47 rifles in only one armoury.
Speaking with State House Correspondents after holding a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the Villa, he said the stockpiling of such a volume of weapons became an open secret when a team comprising some people in the state met with the bandits during a dialogue session involving the Department of State Services, DSS, the army and police recently.
Yari ruled out the possibility of him dialoguing with the bandits, disclosing that he tried such thrice but it failed. Yari stated that when they offered to grant them amnesty so that they could surrender their arms, the bandits declined, adding that till date, the number of the rifles surrendered by them are not yet up to 90.
The governor, who is also the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, disclosed that the dialogue was at the instance of the bandits because it is easy to fish them out during the dry season as against the rainy season when the forest would have been overgrown with plants.
He stated that the security forces would “take advantage of the dry season to fish the bandits out”, stressing that dialogue remains the best solution to banditry in Zamfara State given the peculiar situation of the state at the moment.
According to Yari, “For instance, during the first dialogue, they invited some of our team, army, DSS, police, and my chief security officer as well as some representatives of traditional rulers and we have seen what they have.
“They are in control of the kind of weapons that the security command in Zamfara does not have. In one armoury alone, they have more than 500 AK 47 rifles. We saw it.
“Our people were even given the chance to take pictures. But when we said we will dialogue and offer them amnesty, if they surrendered their arms, they refused.
“I can tell you that till date we have not received up to 90 AK 47 rifles. So it is deceit. That is why I said no more dialogue during my tenure. During dry season, they try to get us to dialogue because they know the security forces can get to them anywhere in the forest and they would not have a place to hide.
“But when the rainy season comes and the forest becomes thicker they return to their normal practice. That is why I said there has to be a show of force before anything else. I know that in any war, eventually, you have to come to the table and dialogue, but at this point and given the situation we are in right now, dialogue is not needed.”