In a bid to appease bandits, the Zamfara State Government reportedly gave some of the suspected criminals 15 brand new Hilux vehicles.
The government, with the approval of Governor Bello Matawalle, also gave the alleged serial kidnappers millions of naira. The bandits now carry out kidnappings and other attacks with the aid of those vehicles and money, a top military reportedly said.
This is according to a story by Sahara Reporters which the state government is yet to refute.
Instead of denying the story, the government threatened to drag Sahara Reporters to court for denigrating the image of Zamfara and its governor.
Zamfara said the publication was “malicious and libellous” but stopped short of calling it “fake news”.
The government, through a statement justice commissioner Nura Ibrahim Zarumi issued on Tuesday, demanded “an unequivocal retraction”.
“You are to also enter into negotiation for damage with the state government,” Zarumi demanded.
“It amounts to a suspicious gamble if you treat this letter with levity but if you decide to do, the gamble is clearly yours.
“It is our mandate to intimate you of this grievous breach on the image and hard-earned reputation of the state with patent collateral damage on its people.
“Our state finds it rather strange that instead of military and other security personnel in the state to appreciate the governor toward building an efficient and reasonable peace in the state by providing the security agents with adequate vehicle to ease their national assignment, including military in the state, your organisation chose to maliciously denigrate the governor by denting his image and that of his government.
“The whole scenario becomes bewildering after reading your publication and the description of the state is totally out of place and libellous.
“Having regard to your previous publications against the state government, our state has come to the conclusion that your publication is both malicious and libellous.”
Meanwhile, the Muhammadu Buhari government has told Governor Rotimi Akeredolu that he has no right to expell herdsmen from Ondo forests.
Akeredolu had on Monday ordered herdsmen to leave the forests within seven says so the state could tackle increasing cases of kidnapping and other crimes.
But Buhari’s spokesperson Garba Shehu, on Tuesday, told the governor the herdsmen would not be leaving.