NSA orders arrest, detention of gold buyers, group alleges, says they are being coerced to implicate Zamfara Governor

Gold Buyers and Jewelry Shop Owners Association has allegedly accused the National Security Adviser (NSA) Maj. Gen Babagana Mongonu of ordering the arrest and detention of some of its members with the intent of intimidating and coercing them into implicating the Zamfara State Governor, Bello Mattawalle of buying gold from them in exchange for arms for bandits.

Gold Buyers and Jewelry Shop Owners Association has allegedly accused the National Security Adviser (NSA) Maj. Gen Babagana Mongonu of ordering the arrest and detention of some of its members with the intent of intimidating and coercing them into implicating the Zamfara State Governor, Bello Mattawalle of buying gold from them in exchange for arms for bandits.

The group stated that three of its members in Zaria and Minna have been arrested and are being tortured on the orders of the NSA to get them to admit that the Zamfara State Governor, Mattawalle was buying gold from them which he allegedly exchanged for arms with bandits.

The Association in a statement signed on Saturday in Abuja by its Chairman Anwalu Musa said their members Musa Mustapha, Ibrahim Sani were arrested in Zaria while Abdullahi Mohammed was arrested in Minna on the orders of the NSA who is trying to frame them up to maliciously implicate Governor of buying gold from them for exchange for arms to armed bandits in his desperate bid to blackmail and mischievously pull him down.

Musa noted that the desperation of the NSA to continue to sabotage the peace initiative of the Governor Mattawalle administration at all cost had also resulted in the concoction of lies that an airplane was being used to take out gold from Zamfara and being in arms for bandits in the state.

The group added that the allegation among several others has led to the imposition of a no-fly zone and the banning of all mining activities in Zamfara State by the Federal Government.

“After the failed attempts to link Governor Mattawalle with the said alleged aircraft supplying of arms to bandits in exchange for gold in Zamfara State, it has now changed to another dimension of witch-hunting and intimidation of the gold buyers to implicate the Governor of Zamfara State.

“The arrested gold buyers have reliably confirmed to an investigative journalist that they are currently undergoing serious torture, harassment, the threat to life, and intimidation all aimed at coercing them to implicate Governor Mattawalle of buying gold from them an allegation they have denied and that they have never had any business transactions with the Governor but they are still under duress to confess to having dealings with the Governor.

It would be recalled that a non-governmental organization, the Centre for Sustainable Peace and Development had declared that the allegations that the Zamfara State Governor Mattawalle was using an aircraft to take out gold from the state and bring in arms and ammunitions for bandits is a hoax and lie from the pit of hell.

This is as the group had accused the NSA of orchestrating the fake news all in the bid to intimidate and frustrate the peace efforts of the Mattawalle administration.

The group had also faulted the allegation by the NSA that the Federal Government had uncovered plots by some individuals to sabotage the implementation of the presidential directive banning gold exploration and the no-fly zone order in Zamfara state, noting that the State has no airport or airstrip.

The Executive Director Dr. Bello Usman Abdul Ganiyu in a statement on Thursday in Abuja stated that there is no such plot as the National Security Adviser (NSA) is constantly raising alarm where there is none all in the bid to cover his shady deals and create an impression of tension in Zamfara State.

“How can there be a plot to sabotage the no-fly zone? When Zamfara State does not have an airport or airstrip,” it said.

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.