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Gov. Matawalli expels NGOs from Zamfara state

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Story from Haruna YUSUF, Abuja

The Zamfara State Government has ordered all Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to leave the state over what it described as “illegal activities” by the establishments.

The Commissioner for Security and Home Affairs, Mamman Tsafe, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday.

“It is further noted that the majority of these illegal NGOs have not registered with the state in line with the laid down rules and regulations of government. Some of them have also been found to be engaging in activities fueling insecurity in the state and its neighborhood.

“Henceforth, the government has ordered all NGOs in the state to pack their belongings and leave the state immediately. Ministries and Departments of government have been ordered to stop any further relationships with any NGO, as punitive measures will be taken against any MDAs found having any relationships with such NGOs.

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“Security agencies in the state are by this announcement directed to be vigilante to the NGOs, they are hereby directed to investigate and prosecute any NGOs operating in the state without due clearance from designated authorities.

Reacting to the order, the umbrella body of the Non-Governmental Organisations in Zamfara State, the Zamfara Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations, has berated the state government over its order to ban the NGOs from working in the state.

In a statement issued by the coalition on Wednesday, the coalition said it condemned the ban which according to it, the government said was owing to the high influx of NGOs carrying out illegal activities that contravened the existing laws of government in the state.

The statement partly read, “Concerning the special public announcement dated 14th February 2023 by the Zamfara State Ministry of Security and Home Affairs, the Zamfara Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations (ZASCONS) and other civil society organisations in Nigeria and worldwide has received with shock the order by the government to expel NGOs working in the state due to what is termed ‘the high influx of NGOs into the state carrying out illegal activities that contravened the existing laws of government’.

“It is given the above that the Coalition of NGOs, an umbrella body of NGOs in Zamfara State, arising from an emergency meeting of its members has condemned the said order as we consider it very punitive, diversionary, and harmful to the cordial working relationship existing between the NGOs and the state government.”

The group further stated that the order has threatened well-meaning and friendly civil society organisations, development partners, and donors.

Speaking further, the coalition said the order threatens the civic space and tarnishes the conducive atmosphere between the NGOs and the government of Zamfara State and Nigeria.

The coalition calls on the Zamfara State Government to withdraw the order, stressing that “it has portrayed the state in a bad light in the eyes of the international community.”

“Recall that Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer to the former head of state General Sani Abacha, expressed concern that while Nigerians were running away from the North-East, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) were comfortably investing in the North East,” the coalition said.

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