The federal government has begun a special operation called Puff Adder to flush out bandits in Zamfara State.
It has also suspended the mining activities and warned that any operative that proceeds with mining activities will have their licenses revoked.
These came as a result of unrelenting security challenges in the state, hence the Federal Government ordered all foreign miners there, mainly Chinese, to vacate the sites immediately.
Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, disclosed this while addressing State House Correspondents after a closed door meeting with service chiefs and other security chiefs of other agencies.
Adamu, who briefed alongsidethe Directors General of the Department of State Service (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi, and National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.
The police boss, who said the order on the miners to quit the site was indefinite for now, also stated that the federal government would take over the vacated mining sites as intelligence reports have substantiated a link between the mining activities and the deadly banditry in Zamfara State and neighbouring states, leading to kidnappings, killings and sacking of villages and communities in the state.
According to him, the joint security task force code-named ‘Operation Puff Adder’ has been charged with reclaiming territories from the bandits and bringing them to book while destroying their bases and arsenal.
The police boss also cautioned the public against spreading false information about the situation in Zamfara on social media.
The text of the IGP’s address to press reads: “As part of sustained efforts to flush out, and permanently put an end to armed banditry and criminality in Zamfara State in particular and the North West in general, the Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with the Nigerian Military and other Security Services has commenced “Operation PUFF- ADDER”, which is a full scale security offensive against the bandits.
“The operation is aimed at reclaiming every public space under the control of the bandits, arrest and bring to book all perpetrators of violence in the area and their collaborators, achieve a total destruction of all criminal camps and hideouts, mop up all illicit weapons fueling the violence and attain a full restoration of law and order in the affected communities.
“Our commitment at protecting the sanctity of life and property is irrevocable, and we will not scale-down the pressure on the armed bandits until they are totally flushed-out.
“Meanwhile, in the face of intelligence report that has clearly established a strong and glaring nexus between the activities of armed bandits and illicit miners -with both mutually re-enforcing each other, the Federal Government of Nigeria has directed as follows:
“Mining activities in Zamfara and other affected States are hereby suspended with immediate effect.
“Consequently, any mining operator who engages in mining activities in the affected locations henceforth will have his licence revoked.
“All foreigners operating in the mining fields should close and leave within 48hours e want to assure the general public, especially in the affected areas that the security services are doing their best to address the situation.
“May I appeal for the cooperation of the local communities, especially the traditional and religious leaders within the community. Meanwhile, we note the use of social media to spread fake news, falsehood and deliberate misinformation.
“We therefore urge our citizens to exercise restraint in circulating unconfirmed information capable of doing more damage to us all. Let us not allow the social media to hijack our sense of judgment and capture our minds negatively.”