Buratai says poll losers backing bandits, gunmen seize eight in Zamfara

Olusola Fabiyi, Kayode Idowu and Maiharaji Altine

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Yusuf Buratai, on Wednesday said embittered politicians who were bent on destabilising the country were responsible for the rising activities of bandits.

He, however, warned them to abide by the outcomes of the elections and exercise restraints and allow peace to reign.

The Army chief pointed out that the military had strong evidence against the politicians sponsoring banditry, kidnapping and other forms of criminal acts.

He gave this assertion while hosting members of the 10-man Committee on Army of the House of Representatives, who were in Maiduguri on a two-day oversight function.

He said, “There are myriads of security challenges we are facing right now in the North-West, North-Central and other parts of the country. I want to believe, and rightly so, that with the fallout of the just-concluded general elections, there are politicians who saw their defeat as a means of revenge, sponsoring these criminal activities and even banditry and clashes between the farmers and herders.

“We use this opportunity to call on members of the House of Representatives to prevail on some of these politicians, to really look at national interest first before any political or sectional interest. We have some strong evidence but we are still being conscious so that we don’t get it wrong but the best is to advise these politicians.”

He urged politicians to desist from any activities that would inflict pains on civilians, warning that all criminals would be dealt with in accordance with the law of the land.

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He assured his guests that the Army would continue to pursue terrorists until they were finally exterminated from the nation.

Buratai equally assured Nigerians that the Army was capable of fighting criminals including Boko Haram terrorists, kidnappers and bandits across the country.

He said despite attacks on soft targets by the insurgents in recent times, the Nigerian Army had degraded their manpower and weapons while efforts were being made to deal with the terrorists at their hideouts and those on the run.

The COAS, while appreciating the visit of the committee members, assured them that their coming would definitely boost the morale of the troops and give them more confidence to face the task ahead.

He also commended the committee members and the National Assembly for their support and encouragement to the Nigerian Army operations across the country.

Earlier, the Chairman of the House Committee on Army, Rimammade Kwewum, who led other members on the visit, said they were in Maiduguri at the Operation Lafiya Dole headquarters as part of their legislative oversight function to assess activities of the Nigerian Army and receive briefings on the activities of the command.

Don’t politicise security problems, PDP tells Army chief

Reacting to Buratai’s statement, the Peoples Democratic Party called on the army and other security agencies to work on facts, adding that the security problems facing the country should be a concern to all.

The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke with one of our correspondents, also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to carry the governors along in waging the war against terror.

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He said, “Well, I do not have access to the details of what the Army chief said. However, I want to appeal to him not to politicise the security problems in the country.

“None of us should glorify ourselves over the killing and kidnapping of our fellow citizens. The situation should call for concern, and not shifting of blame.

“I want to appeal to the President and member of his team to see the challenge as a national issue. We must all rise up and face it. Blame game should not and is not an option. The President should carry members of his team and the governors along.”

Gunmen abduct eight in Zamfara, demand N50m

Meanwhile, eight persons have again been abducted in Kanoma town of the Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State by unknown gunmen suspected to be Fulani.

Narrating the incident, a resident of the town, Alhaji Ibrahim Kanoma, said the bandits invaded the town around 1am on Monday and shot sporadically to scare the inhabitants.

Ibrahim disclosed that the bandits abducted 24 persons but later released 16 of them “because they looked very wretched” and went away with eight.

According to him, after several phone calls, the bandits were demanding the sum of N50m before they could release the victims.

Confirming the incident to one of our correspondents on the telephone, the state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Mohammed Shehu, said the victims were abducted in Kanoma town around 1am on Monday.

The PPRO said on hearing the attack, the command mobilised a team of policemen to pursue the hoodlums in order to rescue the victims.

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Meanwhile, a prominent Islamic scholar, Sheik Ahmad Umar Kanoma, has appealed to the relevant authorities to urgently do something to rescue the victims. He also called on the government at all levels to find a lasting solution to the security problem ravaging the state.

Kanoma, who spoke on banditry during the Ramadan lecture, described insecurity problem in the state as a “time bomb.”

He called on the Muslims to intensify prayers for God’s intervention.

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