The Presidency has said there is a strong suspicion that choppers are being used to transport arms to bandits, while defending the Zamfara State no-fly zone order given by the Nigerian government.
The Senior Special Assistant to The President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu told Daily Trust on Wednesday that the move was taken to boost security in the state.
Also speaking on the ban on mining activities in the state, the presidential aide noted that there were strong suspicions that gold was being swapped for arms by criminal elements operating in the state.
He said, “Even in Zamfara, there is a strong suspicion that some of those choppers are being used to ferry arms for bandits and also to evacuate gold and illegally smuggled out of the country, so the country loses everything in the mining.
“As you are aware, the Nigerian gold market is a big business and the government wants to do two things at the same time by doing this; end banditry and economic sabotage through the smuggling of gold."
Shehu also noted that a big market in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is called the “Nigerian Gold Market”, explaining how Nigeria's gold reserve is being gradually depleted.
However, the state governor, Bello Matawalle, had kicked against the no-fly zone order, expressing doubts that the Nigerian government understood the issues surrounding insecurity in his state.
The Nigerian government on Tuesday instituted a no-fly zone above Zamfara State as part of efforts to tackle the security challenges being witnessed in the state.
National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, disclosed this while briefing journalists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to Monguno, the government also banned mining activities by non-state actors.