Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, on Tuesday, recounted his role in the negotiation for the release of 344 students of the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State.
Matawalle also threatened to sue the acting National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Yekini Nabena, for accusing him of sponsoring banditry in the North West.
The governor, who addressed journalists in Abuja, said the Kankara schoolboys were released in Zamfara State before they were moved to Katsina State, where they were received by government officials.
Matawalle said repentant bandits were contacted to facilitate negotiation and the eventual 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,” he said.
Matawalle said before he assumed office, over 7,000 civilians were killed and thousands kidnapped by bandits in eight years.
The governor said, “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, vandalised 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 vigilance 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.”
Matawalle claimed that the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and the Progressives Governors’ Forum were “satisfied with what I am doing to bring peace in my state and the region, and are all solidly behind me in my efforts to tackle banditry in the region.”