Zamfara Governor Bello Matawalle has given bandits two months to surrender their weapons and embrace the state’s peace initiative. Matawalle gave the ultimatum on Tuesday in a broadcast on the security situation in the state. The governor, who listed other steps his government will take to tackle insecurity in Zamfara, said President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the deployment of 6,000 additional troops to the state. “As a fall out of my discussion with President Muhammadu Buhari and security high commands in Abuja, it was resolved that 6,000 additional troops are to be deployed to the state to complement the current efforts by the security forces. The troops will soon arrive in the state for their operations,” he said. “Again, the president has agreed to a timeframe within which the recalcitrant bandits should accept our peace truce and surrender their weapons to the government. “Even though we are enjoying relative peace as a result of the dialogue and reconciliation programme, many bandits have refused to key into the programme and elected to sustain their attacks and other nefarious activities against our communities. “As a further push to bring to an end the activities of the recalcitrant bandits so as to bring lasting peace to the state, the recalcitrant bandits have been given two months from today within which to embrace the peace process and surrender their weapons to the government.” He warned “political actors” against compromising the security of the state, and directed traditional rulers and sole administrators of local government councils to “always remain in their respective domains to monitor the influx of any suspicious characters”. “Conveyance of more than two persons on a motorbike is hereby banned with immediate effect. Security agents are directed to arrest and arraign the violators of this order for prosecution,” the governor added. Movement of motorcycles in large numbers has also been banned in the Zamfara, just as social media handlers have been warned against spreading fake news, as the government “will no longer tolerate such unethical conduct and will deal decisively with anyone found in this act”.

The FG and the Republic of Benin have entered an agreement to end the importation of rice across West African countries. This agreement was announced at the end of a meeting between a delegation from Benin, the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) and Ibrahim Gambari, the chief of staff to the president, in Abuja on Tuesday. The meeting was to solidify the agreements and tap from Nigeria’s experience in reviving rice production. Representatives of RIFAN recently visited Cotonou, Benin capital, to sign a memorandum of understanding on how the association will help the country boost its local rice production. The delegation was received by President Patrice Talon in his residential house in Cotonou along with his minister of agriculture and foreign affairs. Addressing state house correspondents after the meeting, Atiku Bagudu, governor of Kebbi state, explained that the meeting was to advance ongoing talks between the two countries on how to replicate Nigeria’s rice farming programme in the Benin Republic. “Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria met with the chief of staff to the president to progress the discussion which has been going on between them and the Benin Republic for the two countries to replicate the success of Nigeria’s rice farming programme in Benin, so that we can stop rice importation in West Africa in shortest possible time,” Bagudu said. During the delegation visit in Cotonou, Talon had said the closure of Nigerian borders served as an eye-opener and as such, the country was ready to work with Nigeria to stop the smuggling of rice.

Petrol tank drivers and other articulated vehicles on Wednesday blocked the Benin-Ore highway, at Ofosu over the killing of two drivers by suspected Fulani herdsmen on Tuesday night. Ofosu is the boundary community between Edo and Ondo States. The hoodlums were said to have also made away with an undisclosed amount of money stolen from their victims. The angry drivers, who blocked the ever-busy highway at the military checkpoint, refused all pleas made to them by other motorists, to vacate the road. A driver, who delivers newspapers to Edo State, lamented that he was stuck in the traffic since early Wednesday morning, saying business has been disrupted by the blockade. “It is a terrible experience getting stuck on the road. The protesting drivers said two of their colleagues were robbed and killed by suspected herdsmen. We are all stuck here and our businesses have been disrupted,” he said. It was also gathered that the security operatives at the checkpoint have abandoned their posts due to the chaotic atmosphere, while the angry drivers are insisting that Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State must come to address them before they will open up the road for use. When contacted, PPRO of the Edo Police Command, Kontongs Bello, confirmed the incident but said the location is under the Ondo Police Command.

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli is being treated in a hospital in Kenya and is in a critical condition, opposition leader Tundu Lissu has told the BBC, citing well-placed sources. He has had coronavirus and a cardiac arrest, Mr Lissu said he was told. Mr Magufuli, who has not been seen in public for 11 days, has faced criticism for his handling of COVID-19. The East African country has not published its coronavirus cases since May and refuses to buy vaccines. The 61-year-old president has called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the virus. Earlier this month, at a funeral for a top presidential aide, Mr Magufuli said Tanzania had defeated COVID-19 last year and would win again this year. The aide died hours after the vice-president of the country’s semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar, who was being treated for COVID-19. Mr Lissu said he had been told that President Magufuli was flown to Kenya for treatment at Nairobi Hospital on Monday night. There has been no official response from the government, which has warned against publishing unverified information about the Tanzanian leader, who was last seen at an official event in Dar es Salaam on 27 February. Mr Lissu told the BBC that the government’s silence was fuelling rumours, was irresponsible, and the president’s health should not be a private matter. It would not be a surprise to Tanzanians that Mr Magufuli had contracted coronavirus as he had been reckless in the face of the virus, he said. “He has never worn a mask, he has been going to mass public gatherings without taking any precautions that people are taking all around the world,” Mr Lissu told the BBC’s Africa correspondent Leila Nathoo from exile in Belgium. “This is someone who has repeatedly and publicly trashed established medicine, he’s relied on prayers and herbal concoctions of unproven value.”