By Johnbosco Agbakwuru,
Zamfara State Governor, Bello Muhammad Matawalle on Friday said that over 31 foreign nationals have been repatriated as a result of illegal mining in the state.
The Governor also said that 20 persons were killed on Wednesday by bandits after the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, a unit of the Nigeria Police Force.
Governor Matawalle, who disclosed this to State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, pleaded with the President to order the redeployment of the disbanded SARS to the state.
He said that he was at the State House to brief the President on the security situation in Zamfara and the activities of illegal miners.
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According to him, “I came to brief Mr President on the current security situation in the state. After the disbandment of SARS we had some challenges, particularly the day before yesterday (Wednesday), about 20 people were killed in Talata Mafara local government.
“So, I am soliciting for Mr President to intervene and see how we can have more security personnel to secure the state’s territory.
“I also informed him about some illegal mining activities taking place in the state. We have been able to form a committee, a task force on illegal mining so that they can go round the state and fish out those behind the illegal mining activities.
“Most of the illegal miners are not Nigerians but with the support of army, police and other security agencies in the state, some of them were apprehended and repatriated to their respective countries.
“Those were the two issues we discussed with Mr President.”
Asked whether he was demanding for the reestablishment of the disbanded SARS, he said, “To me, in Zamfara State, SARS are doing very well because they are tracking those criminals and prosecuting them, particularly those in the high area.
“SARS has the capacity to track and bring them to justice. So, to me, in Zamfara State we are in need of SARS, we know with their presence we have experienced peace in the state.”
When asked how he would control the disbanded SARS if sent to the state bearing in mind that it was disbanded because of extortion, rape and extrajudicial killings, he said that he would have no problem working with them.
The Governor said, “I am not saying it must be SARS, whatever name will be given to it, we want them in our state. We did not experience any of those things they did that caused them to be disbanded in my state.
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On what was the President’s response, he said,”He directed his Chief of Staff to take measures to connect with other relevant government agencies that we have discussed with about the issue of security.
“So, the Chief of Staff will contact the army, police and other security agencies to mobilize more security to the state with immediate effect.”
Fielding question on how many illegal miners have been deported, he said, “About 11 Chinese nationals were repatriated and over 20 from Burkina Faso and Mali. And you know the problem we have is that we have a porous border particularly from Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Niger Republic.
“We have a very porous border where people take to come in but with the measure taken by the Nigeria Immigration Service, I think they have put some drones at the border in order to checkmate the infiltration of other nationals to Nigeria.
“I have confidence in them and I believe for now we may not have foreign nationals coming into Nigeria.”
He said that the central government needs to do something and put measures in place to harness gold mining which he described as “untapped mineral resources in the state.”
He said, “As you are aware, the ministry of solid minerals is working hard with a genuine workable document that will benefit both the state and the federal government.”