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Defence minister says comments on supporting bandits not meant to discredit traditional rulers

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The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, has said a statement accusing some traditional rulers in the North West of colluding with bandits was not meant to discredit them.

A statement on Sunday from the spokesman of the minister, Colonel Tukur Gusau said, “the attention of the Honourable Minister of Defence was drawn to publications in some media organisations alleging that he accused some traditional rulers in the states affected by banditry of conniving with bandits.”

He said, “For the avoidance of doubt, the statement was not meant to discredit our highly revered traditional rulers in the states affected.”

Gusau added that, “However, the statement was meant to serve as a warning to some community leaders and their surrogates.”

“This is based on security reports available to the Ministry of Defence and cannot be divulged to the general public.

“The Ministry of Defence wants to once again assure all law abiding citizens of the commitment of the Armed Forces of Nigeria towards protecting lives and properties of Nigerians,” the statement said.

Last Tuesday, the Minister of Defence Mansur Dan-Ali had said some traditional leaders were among those helping bandits with intelligence to carry out kidnappings and compromise military operations in the North West.

The military and the police recently launched rejuvenated security operations to fight kidnapping and banditry that has ravaged communities and citizens in some North Western states including Kaduna, Niger, Zamfara, Plateau and Katsina.

The operations it is said is to effectively flush out the activities of criminal elements in the North West.  The Nigerian Air Force has also intensified air strikes against the bandits in Zamfara.

“In spite of the concerted efforts of the Armed Forces and other security agencies some unpatriotic persons including highly placed traditional rulers in the areas were identified as helping the bandits with intelligence to perpetuate their nefarious actions or to compromise military operations,” the minister had said in a statement.

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