The federal government has refuted claims that it authorized negotiations with bandits on its behalf. This comes in the wake of allegations made by Zamfara State Governor Dauda Lawal, who asserted that undisclosed federal agencies were secretly engaged in talks with bandits operating in the state without his knowledge.
Governor Lawal’s statement, conveyed by his spokesman Sulaiman Bala Idris, expressed concern over these negotiations and called on the federal government to investigate and clarify the actions of individuals undermining the efforts to combat banditry in Zamfara.
However, both the Minister of Defence, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, and the Minister of State, Dr. Bello Muhammed Matawalle, have denied the governor’s allegations.
Minister Abubakar stated, “The said allegation is false and misleading as the ministry has not mandated any body or group to negotiate on behalf of the federal government.”
Meanwhile, as the issue of banditry and kidnappings continues to plague the nation, the ministers reassured the people of Zamfara and all Nigerians about ongoing efforts to secure the swift return of the female students from the Federal University, Gusau, who were abducted by bandits over the weekend.
Both ministers expressed confidence in the joint security task forces working tirelessly to rescue the students and reiterated the federal government’s commitment to their safe return.
Minister Abubakar condemned the act and extended his sympathy to the parents, academic community, and the entire populace of Zamfara State affected by this tragic abduction. He urged all security forces to intensify their efforts and utilize all available resources to ensure the safe release of the abducted students.
Additionally, Minister Matawalle assured the citizens of Zamfara that both air and ground military units had been extensively deployed within the state to protect lives and property. He highlighted that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had issued a directive to the military and security agencies to secure the release of those abducted.
Minister Matawalle reported that as a result of the President’s order, 13 of the abducted students and three others were successfully freed on Monday, March 25, 2023, through the professional efforts of the military.
He expressed his condolences to the families affected by the abductions and condemned the reprehensible actions of the suspected bandits responsible for these incidents.