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Nigeria suspends mining in troubled state to halt armed banditry


[FILES] Map of Zamfara. Photo/ MNCH

Nigerian authorities on Sunday ordered the suspension of mining activities in the troubled northwestern state of Zamfara, which has been riven by kidnapping and banditry.

Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu told a news conference on Sunday that intelligence reports “clearly established a strong and glaring nexus between the activities of armed bandits and illicit miners”.

Gold-rich Zamfara state has been a hotbed of criminal activities, resulting in deadly clashes between the security agencies and armed bandits.

Bandits have long been a scourge of rural communities in Zamfara, raiding villages, stealing cattle, burning homes, looting food, and kidnapping for ransom.

Civilian militia groups comprising local people were formed as protection, given a lack of security personnel in hard-to-reach areas.

But the vigilante forces have only exacerbated violence and tit-for-tat attacks after being accused of extrajudicial killings of suspected bandits.

Adamu announced that all mining activities in Zamfara and its environs “are hereby suspended with immediate effect”.

He warned that any mining operator who continues activities in the area would have their licence revoked.

“All the foreigners that are within the mining sites in this environment are thereby asked to leave the mining sites,” Adam said.

Adamu, who was speaking alongside the heads of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and State Security Service (SSS), said a joint task force would be set up to take over the mining sites.

Adamu said the police, in collaboration with other security agencies, have already commenced a full-scale security offensive codenamed PUFF-ADDER against the bandits.

In the most recent wave of violence people were killed in clashes with bandits on Tuesday,

Some Zamfara residents staged a protest march Saturday in Abuja to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene decisively to halt the criminality and killings.

Buhari denied the allegation that he is indifferent to the deadly atrocities being perpetrated by the bandits.

“How can I be happy and indifferent to the senseless killings of my fellow citizens by bandits?,” he said Saturday in response to the protest.

“I am human and I understand the pains of the victims and their families who have been traumatised and impoverished by constant ransom demands by bandits.”

Buhari said he had ordered rapid and robust deployment of troops to all areas currently under attack from bandits.

He said “we are determined to tackle this challenge ferociously until these remorseless killers are crushed and utterly defeated”.

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