Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara has warned that there was no apology over the bombing of bandits and urged the Nigerian Air Force to continue to flush out the hoodlums from their hideouts.
Yari alleged that some people were working against the state and warned that there was apology over alleged killing of innocent citizens during the bombardment of suspected bandits’ camps in Dumburum village in Zurmi local government.
The governor made the statement on Saturday when a 7-man investigation team on the matter visited him at his Talata-Mafara private residence.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state’s Council of Chiefs had a fortnight ago alleged that innocent citizens were recently bombarded through air strikes in the area by personnel of the Nigeria Air Force (NAF).
“As far as I am concerned and as the head of government in the state (Zamfara), l haven’t seen anything wrong done by the air force, l haven’t received any brief on such matter.
“Dumburum has been a criminal hideout for over three years and the Emir of Zurmi has once asked me to go and wipe out the area saying all those residing there were bandits, so l am surprised that the emir will be part of those saying innocent people were killed in an encounter in the area,” he said.
The governor alleged that “some people will stay in Abuja and fabricate things against the operations in Zamfara in order to distract the operation, this we must not allow’’.
“Please, all security agencies especially the air force should continue with your usual constitutional duties and the state government will give you all the support to facilitate your concentration in trying to bring back peace which has eluded the state since 2007.
“You should continue with firepower to show the criminals that there is a government in place and we won’t negotiate with them again because when we did that in the past, the leaders pretended as if all was well while they allowed their boys to continue to lay siege on the communities,” he said.
Handing over a letter of condolence to the governor from the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, the team leader, AVM Idi Lubo said it was part of the chief’s concern in case the allegations were true.
He said, “the Chief of Air Staff has directed us to properly investigate the matter in order to unravel the truth.
“We have visited other stakeholders and discovered that there was misinformation which we have now resolved and wish to assure the people of the state that we shall continue to discharge our assigned responsibilities in protecting the innocent with professionalism.”
The team which was conducted around the relevant stakeholders by the Commander of 207 Quick Response Group, Squadron Leader Sunkanmi Thomas thanked the support given to the Air Force operating in the state.
The team visited heads of security agencies, the traditional rulers and government officials among others while in the state.
In the course of the investigation, emirs in Zamfara recanted their allegations and apologized to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) for misleading the nation on the fight against bandits.
The traditional rulers had, a fortnight ago, went specific that air strikes on suspected bandits camps hit at and killed innocent citizens in some parts of the state.
The outburst of the emirs, also prompted the Minister of Defence, Alhaji Mansur Dan Ali, to accuse some high ranking traditional rulers of conniving with the bandits.
In a turn-around, the Chairman, Zamfara State Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Attahiru Ahmad, tendered an apology to NAF for the allegations.
The Chairman Council of Chiefs, who is also the Emir of Anka, made the apology when a seven-man high powered investigation team led by AVM Idi Lubo visited him at his palace in Anka on Saturday.
The emirs spoke at a press briefing through the Emir of Bungudu, Alhaji Hassan Attahiru.
The Emir of Bungudu also followed up the claim with the release of the names of some persons who were killed in the air strikes.
The Emir of Anka, however, said “the council regrets the embarrassment caused by the press briefing because it was not targeted at the Air Force or the army but at our own son, the Minister of Defence, who wrongly accused us of complicity in the bandits activities in the state.
“l apologize over whatever embarrassment the statement may have caused and from now, we have drawn a line, there won’t be anything like that again, and I want to appeal that care should be applied while tracking the bandits and when they run from your firepower into the community, the land army should take over so as to avoid killing the innocent.
“Out of the 17 emirate councils that we have in the state, mistakes occurred in only four and the submissions we made were gathered in the last two years, l also want to state that nothing happened on innocent citizens in the last six months in the state,” he said.
While speaking on the list of killed persons that was later released by the Emir of Bungudu, the Chairman of the Council of Chiefs said: “The Emir of Bungudu is not the spokesman of the council even though he read our press briefing that day.
“The list of victims that he released to the press on a later day did not emanate from me nor was I aware of it as the Chairman, l will only take responsibility because l am the Chairman”.
He then assured that the traditional council would continue to support security agencies in the fight against armed banditry in the state and urged the army to go and occupy deserted villages where some of the bandits were hiding.
Lubo told the emirs that the team was in the state to investigate the true position of the allegations in order to avoid future occurrence.
“We have also come with a condolence letter from the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, in case some innocent people were killed in our encounter with bandits.”
NAN reports that the team was taken round stakeholders by the Commander of the 207 Quick Response Group in the state, Squadron Leader Sunkanmi Thomas.