The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has pledged that the Nigerian Army will support the effort of Zamfara State Government to end banditry in the state and other parts of the country.
Buratai made the pledge when the Governor of Zamfara, Dr Bello Matawalle, paid him a courtesy visit at the Army Headquarters on Wednesday in Abuja.
He said that the army had achieved a lot of successes in their operations against banditry in the state and other parts of the country through collaboration with other security agencies.
He said that in as much as the army believed in dialogue in crisis situations, the dialogue and peace effort must be holistic.
Buratai said the army believes in dialogue with the bandits, adding that the use of force only becomes necessary if all other options have failed.
According to him, there must be deradicalisation, there must be deindoctrination and disarmament of the repentant bandits.
He said: “We are quite interested in the security situation in Zamfara state and more so the democratic process that is managed by the governor.
“We are 100 per cent in support of whatever the civil administration decide towards bringing about peace and security in our country.
“We have remained apolitical and indeed the military is an instrument of the state for it to achieve the state objectives in bringing peace and development to the country.
“Let me say that the political direction is key and the great leadership trait that you have exhibited.
“Today, major success has been achieved and we are ready to go along with the step you have taken to dialogue and to ensure that the peace process does not fail.
“Definitely as I said it is a collective effort.
“Just about two days ago, the combined troops of the military including the police and the state services went from Zamfara into Katsina state to flush out these bandits and over 170 of them were either neutralised or captured or absconded from their camps.
“This is one of the pressures that the army has put on the criminals that have forced them to look for the dialogue option.”
According to Buratai, I want to say that the dialogue option must be comprehensive, there must be disarmament which is quite fundamental and also the issue of release of captives which is ongoing and you have started.
He pledged that the army would support the government to ensure complete disarmament and deradicalisation and other political process that the government would undertake.
He said that the army would also support other states that were facing the issue of banditry especially Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger.
Earlier, Governor Matawalle said he came to show appreciation to the army chief for the effort of the army to flush out banditry activities in the state.
He said the army commanders in the state had given the government the necessary support to address the security challenge in the state.
The governor said that the government had recorded successes through the initiative of dialogue it had adopted, adding that; he believed that dialogue was the best option.
He said that banditry in Zamfara had reduced by over 90 per cent, adding that the effort of the military made the bandits to opt for dialogue.
According to him, the bandits told us that they would not have embraced peace if the army was not giving them too much trouble.
He said: “So we agreed that army should reduce attack on them so that they can come out.
“We have secured the release of over 120 captives including foreign nationals and arrangement is on ground to release another 25 captives including women and children.”
Matawalle urged the Chief of Army Staff to direct all the sector commanders in the state on the need to key into the dialogue option of the government.
He said that his government was ready to cooperate with the military to end banditry in the state, pledging that logistic supports such as vehicles would be made available to the army.
He expressed his desire to return Zamfara to its peaceful state status and restore its lost glory.