By Olugbade Ni’maah
Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State on Tuesday has disclosed the role he played in the negotiation for the freedom of 344 students of the Government Boys Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State.
He made this known while reacting to allegations made by the acting National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Yekini Nabena, that he was the mastermind behind banditry in the North West.
Matawalle promised that he would not take legal action against Nabena for alleged libelous comments against him and his government after the intervention of highly respected organizations and individuals.
It was gathered that the Kankara schoolboys were released in Zamfara State before they were moved to Katsina State, where they were received by government officials.
Governor Matawalle has also made it known the role played by repentant bandits in the release of the boys.
“As soon as the boys were kidnapped, we stepped in. We reached out to repentant bandits in the state. Negotiations were made and that was how they were released. The boys were released in Zamfara before they were moved to Katsina.
“Before I came on board as the executive governor of Zamfara State, over 7,000 people were killed in such crisis and a dozen of hundreds of others were kidnapped by bandits within the eight years of my predecessor.
“Records have also shown that almost a million cattle and related animals were rustled by bandits in the state. Property and farm produce worth billions of naira belonging to innocent citizens were either destroyed, vandalized, or carted away by these criminals. All these calamities and catastrophic consequences occurred in the hands of the APC government that ruled Zamfara State for almost a decade.
“However, between May 29, 2019, when I took over the leadership of the state to date, I rescued more than 2,000 kidnapped victims from their abductors. I collected over a thousand weapons from both the bandits and the members of the vigilante groups operating in the state.
“It is also worth noting here that, for almost two years of my administration now, Zamfara State has not recorded such a number of deaths, as was the case before my administration when hundreds of innocent people were being massacred almost on a daily basis.”