Zamfara Abduction: GGSS Watchman Sold Students Out to Bandits – Gov. Matawalle

Bello Matawalle with the abducted students Photo
Bello Matawalle with the abducted students

Alleges Sabotage by APC.

Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle has alleged sabotage against his government by the opposition political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC in the state in last Friday’s kidnap of 286 students of the Government Science Secondary School, Jangebe. The governor also disclosed that the watch man in the school was exposed by the bandits as being complicit in the abduction saga.

Matawalle who made startling revelations about elements behind the security challenges in the state Wednesday night on Channels Television programme, Politics Today, also reacted to the declaration of Zamfara as no-fly zone, and other security measures announced by Babagana Monguno, the National Security Adviser, NSA on Tuesday, stating that it ought to have been extended to all states grappling with security challenges and not his state alone.

Recall that 279 students abducted from the GGSS, Jangebe were released Monday morning by their captors. Seven students had earlier escaped from their kidnappers. Substantiating his allegation of sabotage and role of the opposition party, Matawalle said, “Yes, the security in the state are aware that when we were trying to rescue these children without paying ransom, but other people went behind talking to them that money will be given to them; that they shouldn’t release them to the state government. This is a complete sabotage for my government and we have a lot of intelligence; we have the documents which we are going to discuss on this. But I am going to inform the relevant authority so that they should be informed and we give them our own record that we have so that they should take care of that”.

On the involvement of the security man in the school, the governor disclosed that “Even the watch man of the school, the children have mentioned that when they were there after releasing them, the bandits were telling them that they should greet the watch man for them; they even mentioned his name that he is the one who gave them the go-ahead to come. He was involved. They have said this in front of the commissioner of police in Zamfara State. But I assure Nigerians that investigation will be carried out and all the people involved will be known”.

Responding to a question on the challenge by the Northern Elders Forum, NEF and Afenifere, Yoruba socio-cultural organization to mention those behind the abduction of the girls as he had stated, and the allegation in a viral video accusing government officials of sponsoring banditry and supplying them AK 47 weapons, Governor Matawalle contended that the video was shot in Kaduna State and not Zamfara.

According to him, “If you look at that interview, it was done in Kaduna, not in Zamfara State. It was a bandit in Kaduna State who said that when Ahmed Gumi went to one of the villages and the man even swore with Koran that some people from the government was keeping them and that bandit is in Kaduna, not in my state.

“But you see, like what happened even today when our people – the commissioner of police, the security, the army and everyone went there to return these our children, the youth leader of APC instigated the villagers, together with (name not clear)…they prevented the arrest of the watch man because they were aware. That indicates that people were aware. Even the revelation that these children made before the CP, they said the people that were giving them that target are people from Jangebe – from the same village; that they were even received from the outskirts of the village to the school. They even informed the girls that they did not even know there is a girls’ school in Jangebe but people from Jangebe had given them that target.

“As for what happened today, you call to confirm from the commissioner of police in Zamfara State. The APC youth leader of the Jangebe ward instigated the villagers to be throwing stones to the army, to police and everybody because they wanted to arrest that watch man. But as I said, a proof is going to take place and the truth would come out. As I told you, we don’t want to pre-empt what is happening because the collaborators will understand where we are going so they are going to form another scenario or form another drama.

“If you talk to Bongadi; I saw when he was talking. The one that is a broadcaster at Vision FM. Luckily, he was in Zamfara when it happened that day. Many APC stalwarts celebrated. In fact someone did a very big rally – with drums and everything – singing, appreciating; what kind of human being is this? What kind of heartless human being is this? You can ask from Vision FM reporter; he saw it by himself and we have the video. The same day that the thing happened in the morning, this guy, coming out publicly, jubilating; and he was dancing in Gusau metropolis”.

Miffed that “People are happy with whatever happened particularly if it is negative in the state”, the governor said “and we have a lot of information. The security have some of them; some of them were arrested even before. They were released. Some of them would not be allowed to be taken into custody by the security. So, these are the issues. As I said, we are going to sort it out with the security agencies so that the whole country will understand the gravity of what is happening in these activities of banditry. People are taking advantage of it. Some information and classified names will be mentioned when the appropriate time comes”.

Expressing reservation about the no-fly zone order by Monguno, and supporting the position of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP on suspected ploy by the federal government to impose emergency rule on the state, the governor however said he was all for any measure that would flush out bandits from the forests, not just in his state, but every troubled state in the country.

According to him, “I was a parliamentarian; I was in the House of Reps for almost 12 years. I know what happened during Obasanjo’ administration when he declared state of emergency in Plateau State which was challenged and the Supreme Court had to reverse it. So, maybe the people don’t know. What is emergency rule they are talking about? The emergency rule means that they shall put more security in the area so that they can flush out all the criminals. And if it is about that, it’s not happening just in Zamfara alone. It has happened in Katsina, and it has happened in Chibok and Daptchi and Kagara, not just Zamfara State.

“So, if the national security adviser thinks that he can do something about it, let all these states, not just Zamfara; all the northern states, most of the states that are affected, they should put that emergency so that all the governors will all come together because all we need is how can these bad elements be flushed from our territories. It’s not about emergency and all that, no. What it means is how can they put more security so that they can secure all the areas in the northern part of the country, not just Zamfara; in all Nigeria because so many crises there are everywhere.

“And even in Nasarawa, when I was chairman, House Committee on National Security, about 19 DSS staff were killed in Nasarawa State. Since that time, people have been saying that helicopters used to bring weapons to the bandits in Nasarawa. So, if that should be the case, it should be extended to most of the states that are involved in this crisis. That is what it is supposed to be”.

On whether he felt intimidated by the security measures announced by the federal government as insinuated by the PDP, Governor Matawalle said no, declaring that he would not hesitate to resign as governor if it would guarantee his people better security.

“How can I be intimidated? Remember that it was God that gave me this position and I have been telling it to people; if I know my resigning as a governor can make the people of Zamfara State to sleep with both their eyes closed, and if I know that if I can resign, the whole scenario in Zamfara State would finish, I assure you that I can resign today. I am not that power monger. Since I came to this power, I am not that very zealous that I must be a governor, no, because I am doing it because of my people. If not because of my people, I will not be having a sleepless night trying to protect the lives and property of the people of Zamfara State”, he stated unequivocally.

Feeling discriminated against in the perceived extreme security measure by the NSA, Matawalle stated that “And this decision of Mr. President on no-fly zone; I accept it and I agree with that because if the national security adviser thinks that …People don’t even know that Zamfara State doesn’t have airport. So, there are some states that have airports and they are encountering this kind of situation, what happens to those states that have airport and are encountering this problem? How many times have we heard that aircraft used to go to Birnin Gwari and other places and dropping weapons?… I told the Security Council that they should invite me so that I can come and inform them and give them more information that can help them and do whatever they want to do”.

Denying the allegation that helicopters were coming to drop arms for bandits which informed the declaration of the state as a no-fly zone, the governor described it as “just misinformation” and threw that challenge that “if anybody has that proof, he should prove it beyond any reasonable doubt’. He insisted that as the chief security officer of his state, “security of lives and property of my people is my primary responsibility and I therefore support any measures aimed at eliminating the menace of banditry in the state”.

On the ban on mining activities in the state, Governor Matawalle asserted that “I have no problem with that because already, there is ban on illegal mining in Zamfara State and His Excellency, the President, has approved about 10 companies that should engage in mining activities in the state which the ministry of mines and power has given licenses to do. So, the president, I believe is not talking about banning everything, but illegal mining”.

The governor maintained that no ransom was paid for the release of the 279 abducted school girls, stating that “there is nothing to exchange for the release. We used those bandits that are repented. When we used them, they engaged them and I said they should ask them why they did that.

“Some of these guys did not accept our peace accord; they are many. Some of them even refused to show their faces to the government. But those that have a good intention of repenting and coming back to society, they are working with the security agencies to make sure that the state is safe”.

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