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Sani Wilson Enemona

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Saturday, expressed worries over the latest killings in four villages of Zamfara State by bandits, who have now been proscribed as terrorists by the Federal Government.

This is coming as the two emirs in the affected communities pleaded for deployment of more troops to the region.

President Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, vowed that his regime would “smoke out and destroy these outlaws who have no regard for the sanctity of life.”

Daily Star Nigeria recalls that the terrorists, who were reportedly fleeing Zamfara State in their large numbers following heavy military onslaught, had descended on Rafin Danya, Barayar Zaki, Rafin Gero and Kurfa villages in Anka and Bukkuyum local government areas of Zamfara state.

Residents disclosed that the terrorists descended on the villages, killing and burning houses after vigilantes engaged them in a gun battle, as they were trying to flee the state with no fewer than 3,000 cattle.

Residents had put the casualty figure at over 200, but Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, said only 58 persons were killed.

Shehu’s statement on Saturday, titled, ‘President Buhari condemns the reported massacre of villagers by escaping bandits in Zamfara, vows no letup in military operations,’ quoted the President as describing the attacks as an act of desperation by the terrorists.

He said, “the latest attacks on innocent people by the bandits is an act of desperation by mass murderers, now under relentless pressure from our military forces who are well-equipped to confront these enemies of humanity effectively.

“In keeping with my commitment to tackling the monster of terrorism head-on, let me reassure these besieged communities and other Nigerians that this government will not abandon them to their fate because we are more than ever determined to get rid of these outlaws.

“These criminals will be history because we are not going to relent in our current military operations to get rid of these thugs who have been terrorising innocent people.”

Buhari appealed to the affected communities for patience, saying, “we are fiercely determined to smoke out and destroy these outlaws who have no regard for the sanctity of life.”

While extending his sympathy to the survivors and families of those killed, the President said that the army and air force were working together to get rid of “these callous criminals”

as they acquire more equipment to track down and eliminate criminal gangs that are subjecting innocent Nigerians to the reign of terror, including the illegal imposition of taxes on the communities under siege.

But the Emir of Anka, Alhaji Attahir Ahmad, and the Emir of Bukkuyun, Alhaji Muhammad Usman, who spoke during the visit of Zamfara State Governor, Matawalle, to the attacked communities, appealed for deployment of more security agents in the area in order to checkmate reoccurrence of terrorists’ attacks in the area.

The Emir of Anka said, “The record we have indicated that 22 persons lost their lives in the attack, while four villages were burnt down by the bandits.

“We are in need of additional security personnel to this area; as such, we are appealing to the Federal Government to consider the deployment of more military personnel to the area.”

Similarly speaking, the Emir of Bukkuyum, who gave the number of people killed by the terrorists in his domain as 36, said, “We are appealing to the Federal Government to look into the possibility of deploying additional security personnel to this area.

“The number of the security personnel we have here is grossly inadequate and cannot effectively control the banditry activities in the area considering the influx of armed bandits in the area

The Zamfara state Governor Bello Matawalle, while addressing reporters after his visit to the attacked communities alongside the Commissioner of Police and the General Officer Commanding, the Nigerian Army in the state expressed his condolences to the families whose members were killed by the rampaging terrorists.

He said, “We were shocked on hearing about these killings and we will work tirelessly with the Federal Government for more serious actions to end this ugly act.

“The state government will provide necessary support for the rebuilding of the destroyed villages. The state government has completed arrangements to provide funds for the reconstruction of the villages destroyed by bandits.”

A statement by the governor’s Special Adviser on Media, Zailani Bappa, also quoted him as decrying “the noticeable slide in factual reportage by the media who have variously quoted scary figures of deaths arising from the recent attacks by feeing bandits.”

He said, “The correct figure stood at 58 lives lost. The Emir of Anka gave a list of 22 deaths while the Emir of Bukkuyum gave a list of 36 victims.

“This is against the various figures ranging from 200 to 500 deaths and 11 villages attacked in the media.

“Both the governor and the two Emirs called on  online media and the social media to always verify the facts instead of scaring the public for whatever reason.

“It is also obvious that my administration is not only threatened by bandits in the bush but also political bandits in our towns and villages.

“These are those politicians who manipulate the crisis for political gains and the informants who aid the bandits in their nefarious activities.

“But we shall conquer all by the strength of the Almighty Allah.

“We cannot fold our arms and allow people to always create panic and paint gorier picture of actual happenings in the state. There is no justification for anyone to wish us deeper trouble than where our people are today.”

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