…bans mining activities in Zamfara, declares state no-fly zone
Following consistent banditry and heightened general insecurity in Zamfara, President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the ban on mining activities in the state. He equally disclosed that the President has ordered the nation’s security chiefs to recover all areas being occupied by insurgents, bandits and kidnappers across the country.
Buhari also tasked the security agents to trail and flush-out all non-state actors currently on government watch list causing security upheavals across the country. Briefing newsmen yesterday after the National Security Council meeting chaired by the President, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), disclosed that Zamfara State has also been declared as a no-fly zone. According to Monguno, the meeting, which had the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Service Chiefs and other high ranking government officials in attendance, lasted for about five hours and issues of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and farmers/herders’ clash resulting in some unpleasant ethnic situations, were discussed.
“The President has approved, based on our recommendation, the imposition and enforcement of a ban on all mining activities in Zamfara State with immediate effect, until further notice. “He has directed the Minister of Defence and the NSA to deploy massive military and intelligence assets to restore normalcy to that part of the country. He has also approved that Zamfara State be declared a no-fly-zone with immediate effect.
“Now all non-state actors that have been causing problems for the innocent people, not just in Zamfara State or the North-West zone, but also the North- East and other parts of the country in the South-South, have been placed under surveillance by the intelligence agencies, we’ve had a lot of reports coming in; collusion with people from all walks of life,” he said.
While not averse to the adoption of non-kinetic method of addressing the challenges of insecurity, the NSA disclosed that Buhari would soon begin to adopt kinetic approach to restore normalcy as no government worth its salt would tolerate non-state actors. He said: “No sovereign nation will allow a group of non-state actors to bring it down to its knees and render the state in state of panic, apprehension, mistrust, disorder, and so on and so forth.
“Therefore, both the defence and intelligence organisations have been charged that while we look forward to having a peaceful, non-kinetic resolution, we will not allow this country to drift into state failure and with the fact from today, the new service chiefs have been given directives by the Minister of Defence, conveyed by the President to the Minister of Defence, to reclaim all areas that have been dominated by bandits, kidnappers and other scoundrels.
“In doing so, I’ve also asked all the intelligence agencies to collapse all their efforts onto one platform, so that with the convergence of efforts, we will be able to give the required intelligence to the operational elements of government. “Now, I need to stress also that there are individuals in this country who have assumed a status that is beyond what they should be.
The intelligence from our own sources, the intelligence at my disposal and the disposal of the other intelligence hence, reveals that we have certain entities, certain individuals who are making capital out of insecurity, especially kidnapping.
“This is a situation that has to be brought to an end and I’m sending a warning to anybody who is hiding beneath a veneer of some status, whether official, in terms of an official capacity or traditional or religious, to stoke the flames of disorder will have himself to blame.
“The government is very serious about this. Like I said, we’re drifting into a situation that we can no longer afford to lose lives. We are not going to be blackmailed, we’re going to use whatever is at our disposal, while operating within the confines of legitimacy, within the confines of legality, but the government has a responsibility to assert its will, using the instruments at its disposal to keep the state moving, alive, happy in prosperity, this will not be compromised.”
The NSA added that the Council also discussed the issue of freedom of citizens to reside anywhere in the country as stipulated by the constitution, but added that “the government endorses that anybody who is a criminal, who acts on his own outside the law, should be brought to book wherever he is, but the issue here is that when we continue to pitch ourselves against each other, then this problem will only continue to be magnified.” Monguno said the President warned the citizens against ethnic profiling as doing so may be catastrophic as seen in some other countries.
“I think we’ve had enough of violence, enough of chaos, enough of anarchy, but I want to stress once more that any individual or group that thinks it can take it upon itself to cause disunity, disharmony and push the country to the brink should have a rethink. Any individual who thinks he has any support, who thinks he can undermine this government, anybody, any human being, as long as it’s a citizen of this country,any one person who thinks he’s the cat’s whiskers, or he can be rocky on the perch and lead us into a situation of unhappiness, will have himself to blame at the end of the day.
“Already, the President has given directives to the military and intelligence organisations to trail and flush out all the people that have been on our watch list and I can assure you there’s quite a handful of people on our watch list. They will be trailed, they will be routed out and they’ll be brought to book. They’ll be prosecuted and they’ll be made an example of, and anybody who wants to use this situation to blackmail the government should also think,” he added.