The Zamfara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has denied the allegation that former governor Abdulaziz Yari supports banditry in the state.
Suspected bandits last week killed at least 18 persons in Karaye town in Gummi Local Government Area.
Governor Bello Matawalle on Thursday accused his predecessor, Mr Yari, of sabotaging the security of the state whenever he visited.
The governor reiterated the claim in an interview with the Hause service of the BBC Saturday morning. He also threatened to deal with Mr Yari.
Addressing a press conference Saturday afternoon in Gusau, the state capital, spokesperson of the APC in the state, Ibrahim Gidangoga, said it was not true that Mr Yari “has been engaging bandits in series of meetings through which the bandits were mobilized to attack various communities in the state”.
He said the former governor “is a man of proven integrity, highly respected and responsible leader whose mission is always to improve the well-being of his people.”
He also said Mr Yari, who is being investigated for corruption by the EFCC, “is such a committed and devoted Muslim who is versatile in Islamic knowledge and knows very well, the punishment provided in the hereafter for anybody who takes or aids in taking someone’s life”.
“So, there is no how a religious and knowledgeable person like former governor who led a state for a period of eight years would bring himself so low, so cheap, to be instigating criminals against the people,” Mr Gidangoga said.
The APC spokesperson also said contrary to what Mr Matawalle claims, Mr Yari has not visited any other village or town in Zamfara State, including Gusau, the state capital since he left office on May 29, 2019.
He said Yari only visits his hometown, Talata Mafara.
He said Mr Yari avoids visiting villages and towns in Zamfara in order to avoid any incident that will lead to the breach of public peace.
“Governor Matawalle should know that he did not win an election; he has no mandate of the people and should also know that the people gave their mandate to the APC and that former Governor Yari is the leader of the party in the state.
“He should know that the party has large followership in all the nooks and crannies of the state and denying the people the chance to meet their leader is a gross denial and violation of the constitutional rights of the people,” he said.
Mr Gidangoga said all the meetings Mr Yari convened with leaders and members of his political party have always been transparent and that security agents have been monitoring the meetings.
“I, therefore, wonder how, when and where such meetings with bandits took place in Zamfara state or even beyond.
“Again, Governor Matawalle said in both his public comments and the BBC interview that he noted that whenever the former governor came to the state, there must be security breaches.
The APC spokesperson also said contrary to public perception, bandit attacks still occur in Zamfara state.
“Gentlemen of the press, let me draw your attention to contradictions by both the governor and his commissioner of police who leads the so-called peace initiative in the state.
“The governor accused the former governor of breaching the security, while his commissioner of police recently summoned an emergency stakeholders meeting with leaders of abattoirs, cattle markets, and Meyetti Allah cattle breeders associations in the state where he vowed to deal decisively with any one indulging himself in nefarious business that leads to the resurfacing of banditry activities in some parts of the state.
“During the meeting, the commissioner of police alleged that some rustled cattle markets exist in various parts of the state, and that if this illegal business persists, it would surely disrupt the ongoing peace process in the state.
“Matawalle claims to have solved security challenges in Zamfara state, but people are just being deceived by the government.
Let me remind the governor, in case he forgot when he briefed another gathering of stakeholders in his so-called peace initiative that the peace process was not working.
“In fact, the governor went further to read the list of days, times and communities attacked by bandits during that meeting, as well as expressed fear and frustration of the refusal by bandits to adhere to the terms and conditions of the so-called peace agreement.
“The governor revealed to the leaders of the repentant bandits in the state that and I quote “I am calling on the leaders of repentant bandits in the state to warn their people against what they are currently doing to people across the state after they have embraced the peace deal initiated by our government. They should also remember that they must account before their creator, whatever they are doing.
“It is on our records that on the 23rd of October, 2019, at about 5 p.m., these repentant bandits carrying AK47 riffles attacked people in two villages of Kunchin Shaya and Yar Tsakuwa, all in Kunchin Kalgo ward of Tsafe local government area and destroyed their farm produce and moved away freely.
“On the 27th of October, 2019, these bandits who earlier renounced their ugly act, attacked people of Bawar Daji village in Anka local government area where they stole their cows and destroyed their farms.
“Again, on the 29th of October, 2019, the same repentant bandits attacked people in Tungar Nasarawa, Kuwala and Mashema Vilages in Zurmi local government area and also destroyed their farm produce and their farms.
“Still, on the 1st of November, 2019, these repentant bandits between 1: 00 to 4: 00 pm holding a number of AK 47 Riffles also attacked people of Kukoki Village of Yanwaren Daji in Tsafe local government area and in the cause; they stole their cows and destroyed their farms.
“On the 2nd of November, 2019, these repentant bandits also attacked people of Kungurki Village in Kaura Namoda local government and carried away their cows and destroyed their farms.
“On the 3rd of November, 2019, around 11 pm, the same repentant bandits attacked people of Bingi Village in Maru local government area and destroyed their farms and moved away.
“Still on the 4th of November, 2019, the repentant Fulani bandits attacked people of Mashema village in Zurmi local government area and destroyed their farm produce and around 12 am of the same day, they attacked people of Marken Yamma village of Yanwaren Daji of Tsafe local government area and executed the same ugly act on the people.
“On the 9th of November, 2019 at about 12 am, these repentant bandits attacked people of Kanoma Village of Maru local government area and destroyed their farms. “
Mr Gidangoga said these are just a few out of the many ugly attacks being carried out on a daily basis in various parts of the state.
He then challenged Governor Matawale to prove that Mr Yari visited the state on the days that the bandits attacked the state.
Armed banditry in Zamfara State caused over a thousand deaths during Mr Yari’s tenure as governor. The attacks were so prevalent during his reign that Mr Yari said he was helpless and thus ‘resigned’ as the chief security officer of the state.