Some of the protesters calling for action against the bandits of Zamfara

The West African Network of Peacebuilders (WANEP) has said the Federal Government was forced to act immediately after women-led indigenes of Zamfara resident in Abuja protested the continuous killings by bandits in the northern state.

National Coordinator Bridget Osakwe commended the women for their non-violent protest action, which resulted in the Federal Government to launch operation “Puff Adder” within 24 hours to flush out bandits in Zamfara, in addition to suspending mining activities and order all foreign miners to vacate the sites immediately.

Osakwe spoke at a Media Roundtable on UNSCR 1325 and Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Resolution in Nigeria, in Abuja, meant to amplify the voices of women in peace processes in the media.

Indigenes of Zamfara, at the protest last Saturday, decried the insecurity in the state which has resulted in apprehension, displacements of communities and loss of lives.

They had also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently intervene and halt the killings and kidnappings currently going ravaging the state.

The convener of the protest, Miss Fatimah Mustapha, had said that the protest action was to call attention of government to the gruesome killings and abductions occuring in Zamfara.

According to Osakwe, “You can see what is going on in Zamfara State. While the men and women are experiencing the same thing, the women have stood up to lead other women and men to call for peace in their state.

“Now, we can see the outcome of the Zamfara protest by the women. Immediately, the government launched operation “Puff Adder” and closed down all the mining sites. We can see the important role the women played in prompting government to act, they did not carry arms, they were not violent. So, the more women speak, the more action we will get. That is a local example.

“From the international scene, we have seen what has happened in Christchurch, how the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, handled the issue of terrorism differently. This is just a few examples of what positive role women can play in the issues of peace and security.”

The WANEP coordinator said the roundtable was a followup to the training of journalists, to amplify the role of women in peace and security processes.

“We had a training before now and had formed this platform for journalists to report on the role women and men can play in peace and security processes, we have encouraged media houses to amplify the voices of women in peace processes. Yes, women and girls are worse hit in conflict situations, but they also have the capacity to contribute to peace and so their perspective should also be on the table. Today, we are also calling on men and boys to be allies to women in building peace in every community in Nigeria,” she said.

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