Dr. Bello Matawalle
Matawalle

OBINNA EZUGWU

The Zamfara State governor, Dr. Bello Matawalle has reacted to a report that he bought hilux vans for “repentant” bandits and also approved millions of naira to be given to them as compensation, describing it as “a false and malicious report by a dead newspaper clinging on spreading fake news to stay relevant.”

An online medium, Sahara Reporters, had in a report on Tuesday, alleged that the governor bought about 15 vehicles and approved millions of naira to be given to the ‘repentant’ bandits as compensation for bandits with whom he entered peace agreement in 2019.

The medium reported that despite the accord, communities in the state are still being attacked and residents kidnapped and/or killed.

It quoted a top military to have said that the bandits now carry out attacks with some of the vehicles given to them by Matawalle.

“Those bandits have different group, so if they say they repent, the governor will give them a Hilux vehicle but unfortunately they are now using the vehicles to carry out attacks,” the medium had quoted the military officer to have said.

“On Sunday, they attacked Jankara but were resisted by the local vigilantes, so they fled and left one of those Hilux vehicles and the motorcycles they came with behind.

“It’s so sad, he called it peace and reconciliation programme, but all you need to be rich now in Zamfara is to take up arms against the people.”

However, in a swift reaction, the governor said the report is not only false, but very malicious.

Matawalle explained that he bought vehicles for security agencies in the state to assist their efforts in battling insecurity, but never bought vehicles for repentant bandits.

“This is false and malicious report by a dead newspaper clinging on spreading fake news to stay relevant. Sahara reporters should’ve professionally sought out our government to verify this information before rushing to press. This is against the ethics of journalism,” the governor said via his twitter handle @Bellomatawalle1 on Tuesday.

“The said vehicles, 200 of them were donated to security agencies in the state to boost their morale in tackling insurgency. This is a display of quackery and sheer mischief targeted at disabusing the minds of law abiding and patriotic citizens of the state.”