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Controversy trails suspension of two Zamfara lawmakers over ties with banditry

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LAST Tuesday, the Zamfara State House of Assembly suspended two of its lawmakers Yusuf Muhammad representing Anka constituency and Ibrahim Tukur (Bakura constituency) over alleged ties with banditry in the state, but one of the suspended lawmakers has said he was witch-hunted.

The motion to suspend the lawmakers was moved by Yusuf Kanoma representing the Maru North constituency, who alleged that the lawmakers were collaborating and celebrating banditry in the state.

“One of them is suspected of having supplied information to bandits leading to the death of one of our lawmakers, Muhammad Ahmad, representing Shinkafi Constituency, who was killed on his way to Kano a few months ago.


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“The other was seen rejoicing after the kidnapping of our Speaker’s father, who died in bandits captivity,” Kanoma said.

Following his motion, the House adopted it and slammed a two months suspension on the lawmakers pending the end of an investigation into the matter by its Committee on Ethics and Privileges.

In June, a lawmaker who represented the Shinkafi constituency, Muhammad Ahmad, was killed and buried by bandits in the state.

Director-General of Information in the Zamfara House of Assembly who spoke to The ICIR over the matter confirmed that the lawmakers have received their notice of suspension on Friday.

On the rationale of the suspension, he said the Assembly rule dictates that the lawmakers be suspended till the conclusion of the investigation. However, he noted that facts are yet to be gathered over the allegations.

On the importance of the suspension, Kaura said there had been reports that bandits in the state say they were sent by the ‘government’.

“Sometimes, you will hear bandits say that they were sent by the government; who is that government that sent them? That is why we must take action and investigate such allegations,” Kaura said.

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The ICIR gathered that the suspended lawmakers alongside three others in the House were among members who refused to swear by the Qur’an that they were not involved in banditry.

Responding to the allegation, Yusuf said he had no connection with banditry and did not celebrate the abduction of the Assembly Speaker’s father as alleged by Kanoma.

He alleged that he was being witch-hunted over his plan alongside some other members to impeach the Speaker of the house.

A day after their suspension, both lawmakers were seen in separate videos swearing by the Qur’an that they were not involved in banditry.

When The ICIR asked the Spokesperson of the Assembly if the swearing with Qur’an meant that the lawmakers’ suspension would be called off, he responded that it does not affect the duties or the decision of the House.

“Whether they swear by the Quran or in the shrine, that does not prevent the Committee from doing its work,” Kaura said.

Zamfara state has been one of the Nigerian states affected mainly by terrorism and banditry. Recently, telecommunication services were shut down in the state as measures to curb the rising insecurity in some states.

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Earlier in March, President Muhammadu Buhari also declared a no-fly zone in the state and a ban on mining activities over insecurity.

Axis like Munya, Shiroro, Mariga and the Lapai-Agaie in the state were said to have been taken over by bandits.

Bandits are attacking schools, and ordinary civilians are also not left out. In March, some bandits operating in the state abducted over 300 schoolchildren in Janzebe Local Government. There are also regular activities of insurgent groups in the state.

Zamfara State Police Command has severally restated its commitment to ending banditry in the state has been silent over the allegations levelled against the lawmakers.

The ICIR contacted the command’s spokesperson Mohammed Shehu via, he read the message but did not reply.

The Zamfara state government said it was ‘worried’ over the allegations against its judicial arms.

Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity Zailani Baffa, who spoke to The ICIR in a telephone conversation, said, although the Executive arm was worried about the allegations; there was nothing they could do.

“We are concerned, but we cannot interfere in the process of the House; we are the most concerned people, but we don’t want to muzzle in the affairs of the House,” Baffi said.

Baffa said that until the Assembly’s investigation, the Executive government would not interfere in the matter.

Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via [email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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