The Minister of State for Defense has blamed those he described as “conflict entrepreneurs” as responsible for the endless banditry in north-west Nigeria.
Matawalle said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (YAYA), in Abuja.
“Banditry has its economy, which is fueling crime in the country.
“The businessmen in conflict do not want the insecurity in this country to end. Many people from the North are part of the business.
“Now I call it a business because those who sell medicines are part of it, those who sell food, fuel and other essential items are all part of it.
“Informants get a lot out of this. They are paid handsomely for that crime.
“So they don’t want the evil to end. “A lot of people have gotten into the business,” she stated.
Matawalle, immediate past governor of Zamfara State, one of the most terrorized states in Nigeria, said that during his tenure he observed that when a bottle of coke was sold for 100 naira in the city, some people would sell it for as much as 500 naira to bandits in their enclaves.
“Also, when a bag of rice sells for between N18,000 and N21,000, when it reaches the bandits’ enclave, it sells for up to N80,000,” he added.
The minister, however, said security was a collective responsibility of all Nigerians, urging everyone to put aside their differences and unite to fight it.
He said that if it weren’t for some of the actions he took as governor, the northern part of the country would already be burning.
“If it were not for some actions I took when I was governor, at that time northern Nigeria would be in a big fire.
“Remember that I was the first governor in the entire North to cut off the communication network in his state.
“I cut the network to allow security agencies to come in and expel those criminals.
“I did that because there were many times that if our soldiers were going to conduct some operations before reaching the bandit’s enclave, the bandits would be informed.
“Their informants will inform them, so they usually ambush our soldiers and kill them.”
The minister said the worst thing about the situation was that people did not appreciate what the military was doing.
“I’m sorry because if they kill a civilian, the news would be everywhere, but if they kill a soldier, nobody says anything.
“There was a time when 22 army officers were killed, but since the businessmen of the conflict were involved, people did not care and they dedicated themselves to promoting fake news, propaganda and all kinds of things.
“So, the issue of security is very delicate; The actions we will take now is to ensure that we eliminate all criminals from this country.
“We hope that with your prayers we can achieve a lot through the many actions that I know will be taken,” he said.
Matawalle, who has been criticized by his successor Dauda Lawal for worsening insecurity in the state, debunked the claims.
“Some people say my government was negotiating. What type of negotiation? With whom and for what?
“They should come out and tell the world what kind of negotiation. In military operations, there are kinetic and non-kinetic approaches.
“In a non-kinetic approach, for example, the community must be involved, as was the case in the Niger Delta.
“I was in the House of Representatives when amnesty was granted to the Niger Delta militants. It was up to them to stop carbon deregulation and other crime in the region.
“But if you look at the bandits, why are they agitated? Nothing. They are just normal criminals like armed robbers.
“But now, with what we have implemented through community reforms, we can fight these killers.”
Matawalle said the bandits were not anonymous and noted that people knew them.
“They are actually known, so all you have to do is have the right equipment to eliminate them. And we are going to do it one by one. We want to do it. We will do it.
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“But, even if we put an end to the bandits, what about the people within the community who are already benefiting from that business? The informants. Fuel suppliers. The food vendors. The other people who control the conflict are the businessmen.
“Yes. Yes, other non-state actors. How about them? We have to come up with a way to address all segments of violence to destroy the entire chain and free Nigeria from all shackles,” he said.