The ongoing banditry in Zamfara State has claimed over 3,000 lives with the state government spending some N17bn in the past seven years on fighting the problem.
The Secretary to the Government of Zamfara, Prof Abdullahi Shinkafi, made the disclosure on Sunday in Gusau at a town hall meeting, organised by the Nigerian Bar Association.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the meeting was called to find a lasting solution to the worsening insecurity in the state.
According to Shinkafi, the banditry has resulted in the death of over 3,000 people, destruction of over 2,000 homes, burning of over 500 cars and kidnapping of over 500 people for ransom.
He said that the money was spent from 2011 to date, to procure vehicles for security agencies, pay allowances to security operatives, provide accommodation for soldiers of the 232 Battalion and other logistics.
“When you hear N17bn, it sounds huge but when you break it down to the various components in tackling insecurity, you will see that it is not even enough.
“In 2011, we provided 457 vehicles for security agencies; in 2012, we provided 2,250 vehicles; in 2014, 77 vehicles and 50 vehicles each in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
“We also have to give funds to those affected by these attacks to at least help them in some way.”
According to Shinkafi, the state has been sitting on a time bomb for long, and there is a need for the citizens, the state and the Federal Government to be more concerned and find ways to stop the bomb from exploding.
He recalled that the crisis which started as a minor clash between herders and farmers had been taken over by armed bandits, who had carried out about 40 attacks.
He attributed the banditry to the shortage of manpower in the state, stressing the need for more indigenes to show interest in joining the security services to protect the state.
The National President of the NBA, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), wondered why the Federal Government would allow the state to spend so much of its funds on security.
He argued that the sum would have been used to build infrastructure and grow the state’s economy, adding that security operations should be funded by the Federal Government and not the states.
He, however, noted the need for the Zamfara government to show leadership in the fight against insecurity.
According to him, providing funds without being present to monitor how the funds are spent cannot not yield the desired results.
Mahmoud said the visit by the NBA was not political but a move aimed at promoting peace, resolving the conflict and upholding the Nigerian Constitution.
He assured the state government that the association would discuss with Governor Abdulaziz Yari on various allegations against him, particularly the one that he was never present in the state to attend to state matters.
Some of the participants who spoke at the meeting, accused Yari of running the administration in absentia and called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the state.
Senator Saidu Dansadau, a former senator, said that the management of security was capital intensive and that the leadership must be on the ground to monitor how such money was spent.
For the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Aliyu Gusau, the issue was that the people of the state no longer trusted the government.
“The communities are more loyal to the bandits because promises and assurances given by the government are never fulfilled.”