[cash bandits 2]Matawalle and the Zamfara State Debacle

08-22 04:22

  RingTrue with Yemi Adebowale, yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 08054699539 (text only)

  RingTrue By Yemi Adebowale

  ?Email: yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com Phone 08054699539

  The sight was despicable. I’m talking about Governor Bello Matawalle dancing on the podium at a rally in Gusau last Tuesday to celebrate his voyage to the All Progressives Congress. Matawalle dumped the Peoples Democratic Party for the APC. So, what is in it for the traumatised people of Zamfara State? Nothing. It was just to satisfy this governor’s egocentric tendencies. I am shocked it happened amid unending killings and poverty in Zamfara. Matawalle should be ashamed of himself. There is really nothing to celebrate in this governor’s defection to the APC. It’s almost impossible for this defection to translate into better life and security for the people of Zamfara. The failings of the APC governors in the neighbouring states clearly testify to this. The facts and figures are there in terms of security and welfare. Governor Nasir El-rufai was also dancing on the podium in Gusau last Tuesday. He should please tell Zamfara people how the people of Kaduna State are benefitting from his six-year-old APC government in the state.

  Matawalle is not the first PDP governor to defect to the APC, but his is particularly painful because he became governor without winning an election. He was a child of circumstances and should be grateful to Allah for this instead of resorting to dirty politics. Citizens of Zamfara State are evidently not interested in the politics of APC and PDP. They are interested in a governor capable of delivering security and welfare to them. So, when the court made Matawalle governor of this state ranked the poorest in Nigeria, the people were not angry and cuddled him with high hopes that he would be different from his predecessors. In his two years as governor, Matawalle failed woefully to deliver on these vital security and welfare issues. I don’t know how his membership of the APC will now change these deficiencies.

  Current statistics from the National Social Safety Net Coordinating Office (NASSCO) in Abuja reveal that Zamfara State has the highest number of poor and vulnerable people in Nigeria, with a record of 3,836,484 people from 825,337 households. Poverty pours in Zamfara State. There are more poor people in Zamfara State than war-ravaged Borno State. That is the truth backed with facts and figures. Unfortunately, Matawalle has failed to impact on the lives of his people. Hunger and disease pervade this land. I challenge this governor to do a breakdown of how he spent all that accrued to this state in the past two years.

  Yes, Matawalle met the state in a very bad situation in terms of security, but Zamfara deteriorated greatly under him. Instead of settling down to tackle the problem, Matawalle is busy with the politics of jumping from one party to another. Zamfara State is a killing field. The blood of innocent people flows freely daily. This has been happening in the last six years. Residents of Kadawa Village, in Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State are still mourning the murder of their loved ones by bandits. Many women have been widowed and children orphaned in Zurmi. In all, 93 innocent souls were botched in this Zamfara State community early last month.

  Last April, blood flowed again in Dansadau, Maru LG, with the killing of 20 Fulani traders. It was a reprisal for the slaughter of three people in Ruwan Tofa village, including a member of Yan Sakai.

  Within three days, April 20 to 22, 80 people were killed by Fulani militias and counter killings by Yan Sakai in series of attacks in four villages – Gobirawa, Rini, Gora, and Madoti Dankule – in Bakura and Maradun LGAs. The slaughtering in Zamfara is a product of the unending dispute between Fulani herders and Hausa farmers. Fulani militias fight for the herders while Yan Zakai retaliates for farmers.

  These infinite killings are depressing. Security agents have abandoned the people. Matawalle has also compounded the problem by heaping money on Fulani militias in the name of amnesty. I was horrified when I saw Auwal Daudawa, who masterminded the abduction of students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, at the Zamfara State Government House, with Matawalle cuddling him. This outlaw, who should be in jail, was again on February 18 frolicking with Matawalle at Government House, Gusau, in the name of a ridiculous amnesty for the brigands. Of course, Daudawa (who eventually died by the sword) and his gang collected hefty ransom. The bandits surely got enough to buy more than the weapons submitted. That’s what Matawalle has been doing for the militias for almost two years; yet, the attacks have persisted. This governor has pumped huge money into this useless venture that encourages more militias to join the flourishing “business” of killing and kidnapping.

  The kinked Matawalle has also been justifying lawlessness by the militias. Can you imagine a governor saying “most of the bandits take up arms due to the injustice to them by some members of the society?” The Zamfara governor remarked: “If you investigate what is happening, and what made them to take the laws into their hands, some of them, sometimes were cheated by the so-called vigilante groups. They normally go to their settlements and destroy property and take their animals. They did not have anyone to speak with, so sometimes, they go for revenge. When vigilante groups attack them, they go for reprisals. That is exactly what happened.” It’s a big shame.

  Right in Matawalle’s backyard is the notorious Fulani militia leader, Dogo Gide, who controls the southern part of the Zamfara forest and further into Niger State. Matawalle knows the whereabouts of Gide and his boys. All the security agents know this location; yet, the militias still launch attacks unhindered.

  Few days back, hundreds of frustrated residents of Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State took over the Gusau-Sokoto highway in protest against unending killings by Fulani militias. The protesters, mostly from Bingi and other surrounding villages in Maru LG, forced travellers to make a U-turn. In Mau, blood flows like tap water daily. More than a dozen communities have been sacked. Many troubled citizens of Zamfara State have relocated to Lagos to join Okada-ridding business. This Zamfara governor should visit Lagos to confirm my assertion.

  Matawalle should find a political solution to these killings and poverty in his state instead of this prickly celebration of his hopeless defection.

  It’s so painful that Zamfara State has been unlucky in terms of governors in the last 22 years. The state gets largely corrupt and inept governors, from Ahmed Sani Yerima, to Abdul’aziz Yari, and now the languorous Matawalle. Yari was also on the stage last Tuesday dancing to the Matawalle beats. Last January, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordered the final forfeiture of huge cash found in the bank accounts of companies linked to Yari, to the federal government.

  Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu ordered that the funds, including $56,056.75; N12.9 million, N11.2 million, $301,319.99; N217,388 and $311,872 be forfeited because the former governor did not show good cause why the order sought by the ICPC should not be granted. The judge concurred that the funds were proceeds of unlawful activity. The bad news is that money stolen from Zamfara State is being forfeited to the federal government. Matawalle did not challenge this order in court to ensure the return of this fund to troubled Zamfara.

  The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, has also been in and out of court with Yerima. At a point, he faced a 19-count charge of fraud allegedly committed during his tenure as governor. Yerima purportedly diverted N1 billion meant for the execution of projects. He also allegedly diverted N684 million alongside other accomplices.

  Zamfara governors since 1999 have been raping and looting this poverty-stricken state. That is the situation hapless citizens of Zamfara State have been condemned to. The killings of the last six years have compounded its woes. An estimated 5000 innocent people killed so far. Who will save Zamfara State?

  Tetchy Push to Criminalise Freedom of Expression

  I find it shocking that there is a bill in the House of Representatives to amend the Act establishing the Nigerian Press Council, NPC, a government agency set up to regulate the print media. NPC’s existence is still a subject of litigation; so why trying to amend the law establishing such an agency? Our lawmakers should understand better. A case on the matter is still pending in the Supreme Court. The amendment bill should not have been presented because it is sub judice.

  In 2010, the Nigeria Press Organisation (NPAN, NGE and NUJ) got a judgement affirming that 17 out of 39 clauses in the NPC Act were unconstitutional. The federal government appealed and got a ruling in its favour in December 2015. That ruling has been appealed by NPO and it is pending in the Supreme Court. The most reasonable thing to do now is for the amendment bill to be stepped down.

  For me, the existing NPC Act is all rubbish and absolutely unnecessary. The amendments proposed are also all nonsense. The NGE was apt when it remarked that the amendment bill is unconstitutional as it runs against the principles and tenets of the rule of law. It further states: “The bill is, for all intents and purposes, draconian and anti-press freedom being an amalgamation of the obnoxious Public Officers Protection Against False Accusation Decree No. 4 of 1984 and the Newspapers Registration Decree 43 of 1993, both vestiges of the dark days of military rule and, therefore, incurably and irreparably bad, being also inconsistent with values of our democratic society.

  “The bill seeks to criminalise journalism practice despite the fact the laws of the country already have enough provisions and avenues for seeking legal redress; that the bill smacks of an attempt at undue interference in the operations of the media in Nigeria as businesses registered under the relevant laws of the federation; and that the bill seeks for the Nigeria Press Council to usurp the powers of the courts by assuming extra-judicial powers.”

  The idea of a government agency governing ethical standards in the Nigerian Press is clearly an attempt to hinder free speech. The federal government is simply aiming at muzzling the print media, just as it is doing at present with the broadcast media. The push for a self-regulatory body to oversee the press gave birth to the NPO. In the interest of free speech, an independent body, rather than a government agency should regulate the media. This is what professionals have been pushing for. The NPC Act must be abrogated and the NPO supported in regulating the print media and its professionals.

  Gruesome Murder of Joe Ayomike and wife

  The gruesome killings across Nigeria in the last six years are unending. The stories elicit tears. This country has never had it so bad. “Unknown gunmen” enter the home of a septuagenarian, stabs him and his wife. Then, kill them with gun and cuts their bodies into pieces. That was what happened to Pa Joe Ayomike (Emeritus Director of the Warri Choral Society) and his wife, Chinyere, last Monday at their home in the GRA area of Warri, Delta State.

  Son of the murdered couple, whose corpses were found decomposing said in a trending video: “Brothers and sisters, it is with a heavy heart I announce the death of my great father, Mr. Joseph Ayomike, who was found together with his wife murdered in his bedroom. He was found shot, cut with machete and stabbed.”

  It’s always “unknown gunmen” killing and raping across Nigeria. Killers of Pa Ayomike and his wife must be brought to book. We must pressure our security agents to do the needful. Ayomike was a respected Itsekiri leader, economist and businessman in the Nigerian hospitality industry.

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