Zamfara: Foreigners buying gold, precious stones with arms, says Gov Matawalle

Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle has attributed the influx of guns in the state to foreigners who use arms to pay for gold and other mineral deposits in the state.

Speaking with reporters after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, Matawalle said one of the measures his administration will take to check the illegal trade is to buy some of the resources after they have been mined.

“It is very important to us as a government to know the root cause of insecurity. Zamfara state is blessed with many mineral resources and some people outside the country come in to buy gold and other precious stones and sometimes instead of paying people, they pay back with arms,” he said.

“The state government will be buying some of these minerals so that we can block that chain.

“So now the state government is engaging the miners, we will be buying some of these gold from them with the limited resources we have.

“We have cases of guns running in Zamfara state. Mr. President is very happy with the system we have initiated and he said whatever support that we need, the federal government is ready to assist us, in fact he has given directive to the minister of solid minerals to work with the state government to make Nigeria a great country in terms of solid minerals, diversify from oil to solid mineral resources.”

The governor said miners in Zamfara should be supported so they can benefit from the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI).

He added that he told the president that the removal of service chiefs is not the solution to the widespread insecurity in the country.

“I told the president that all those are calling for the sack of the security chiefs should think of the best way to support them to perform better instead of sacking them, even if you sack them, you are bringing another one, so let us use the one that we have, we will support them as a government, my state now is at peace and everybody is aware,” he said.

“We have more than 3,000 policemen going round the mining sites in order to protect the mining site. We have the security agencies, it’s just for us as leaders to support them.”

Zamfara is one of the states where there is a high level of insecurity in the country.

Meanwhile, troops under Operation Sahel Sanity have arrested at least 160 suspected bandits and killed three in Zamfara State.

Briefing newsmen in Faskari town on Tuesday, the Acting Director Media Operations, Brigadier General Benard Onyeuko, said the troops uncovered a bandits’ hideout at Gadan Zaima where the suspected bandits were arrested on the spot.

He said, “On 23 August 2020, troops conducted a well-coordinated intelligence-based operation leading to the raid of an illegal mining site located along the Gadan Zaima-Zuru Road in the Bukuyyum Local Government Area of Zamfara State which also serve as bandits’ hideout

“During the operation, troops arrested 150 suspects and recovered 20 locally fabricated Dane guns. One of the suspects was neutralized while trying to escape.”

Onyeuko further explained that more bandits were arrested and three killed on August 20 and 21 in different parts of the state.

He maintained that the arrested suspects were currently in the army custody undergoing preliminary investigation and would soon be handed over to relevant security agencies for further action.

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