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Niger govt to Matawalle: Zamfara is sanctuary to bandits

Niger State government has debunked claims by the governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, that bandits and criminals attacking the state are from Niger. Secretary to the Niger State Government (SSG), Ahmed Matane, who stated this in an interview with New Telegraph in Minna, yesterday, told our correspondent that bandits terrorizing the state always return to Zamfara State after their attacks.

Matawalle had, while speaking on Channels Television programme, Politics Today, on Tuesday, said that conversations with some of the bandits indicated that they are from Niger State, while others are Hausa- Fulani people. But the Matane, who faulted the claim, said: “I think the reverse is the case because the major sanctuary and permanent camps of these bandits are in Zamfara State. What they usually do is to leave Zamfara, come to Niger, go to Kaduna State and perpetuate their criminality and then rush back to Zamfara.

“What we have found is that because the Zamfara State government had gone into dialogue with them and signed some agreements with them, they found out that it might not be comfortable for them to operate in Zamfara. So, what they do is to attack states where peace accord has not been signed with them. And that is exactly what has been happening. “In Niger State, we never had a camp for bandits, but they usually come temporarily, operate and leave the state to where they came from and it is always Zamfara they return to.”

The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Muhammad Sani Idris, who spoke in the same vein, told our correspondent that such comments by Matawalle are false and untrue, especially as it is coming from a governor whose state shares borders with Niger and other states. According to him, “The Zamfara State governor’s comments are not only wrong, but misleading.

Everyone knows these bandits have been entering Niger to attack our people and flee to the forests and take refuge in Zamfara. “The bandits who attack may not be Zamfara indigenes, but they are taking refuge in the forests. We are all suffering from these attacks; why should he accuse Niger State that has been one of the most peaceful and secured states in the country?”

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