By Suleiman Umaru
Matawale Bello, governor of Zamfara, described as home state of the Bandits Group, is a happy man. Matawalle’s source of happiness was the declaration of the activities of Yan Bindiga Group/ Yan Ta’adda Group, popular, Bandits Group, as a terrorist Organisation in accordance with an Abuja Federal High Court declarations. ‘’We have all been waiting for the declaration’’, the Matawalle had said.
The amfara governor had repeatedly said that’’the military had been restrained from using some of its sophisticated weapons like the newly procured super Tucano fighter Jets, from the North American country of the United states, US’’ to bomb the Bandits hideouts in the forests to avoid playing into the hands of the International Community who may see it as an opportunity to condemn the Nigerian government of Human Rights abuse and subsequently drag it to the World Court.
He had said that with the declaration of Bandits Group, which Ibrahim Dosara, the Commissioner for Information, had said has over 100 Camps, scattered all over the forests in the state, with 32,000, armed followers, the military may no longer be restrained ‘’to use some of its sophisticated equipment like the super Tucano and possible weapons, to fight these Bandits, now turned terrorists.
As a prelude to ensuring that the introduction of the US, manufactured, super Tucano fighter Jet, in order to flush out the Bandits, now terrorists, all over the forests in the state, the governor disclosed that the state government has started discussions with the higher military Authority on ‘’the best way the super Tucano will be deployed to the state, which currently shares boundary with Sokoto, Katsina, Buhari home state, and the neighbouring West African country of Niger Republic so that all the grey areas would be cleared of the Criminal elements.
Ayba Elkanah, the state Commissioner of Police, had revealed that with the intensified military operation in the state, 80% of the Bandits Group armed followers operating in the state have relocated to the Caliphate state of Sokoto while only 20% of the remaining Criminal elements are still scattered all over the forests in the state , wrecking havoc in the Communities.
Mohammed Bazoun, President of Niger Republic had said that the Bandits had entered Nigeria from Madawa and Bayan Dutsi regions of the country forests and escalated to Zamfara, and other parts of the country, through the forests in Maradi and Gao regions.
The recent attacks and killings on Communities in Anka and Bukkuyum Local Government Areas where many of the villagers were said to have been killed and several others rendered homeless may have encouraged Matawalle, the Zamfara , governor, to resume the meeting with the security Chiefs in the state comprising of the state Commissioner of Police, , Commissioner for Security, the Army Commandant, Director of Department of State Service, DSS, and other security Chiefs in the state. What was most worrisome to the security Chiefs in their various meetings was the alleged mass murder of 58 people in Communities in two LGAs, attacks in the state. The Wednesday, January 5, 2022, attacks was said to have claimed 36 people in Bukkuyum LGA and 22 others in Anka. But unofficial sources disclosed that no fewer than 200 people were killed in the attacks in the two LGAs.
‘’We have already strategized on how to deal ruthlessly with the Bandits without incurring the wrath of the International Community’’, Matawalle had said. He noted that the results would soon begin to manifest over what have been done to crush the Bandits, which is a combinations local and their foreign Bandits. The governor may have been forced to speak out after ‘’inspecting the screening of new Army recruits from all the fourteen Local government Areas of the state.
President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General had declared on Saturday, January 8, 2022, that the Bandits attack and killings in the two LGAs, in Zamfara state was a clear –cut case of ‘’desperation’’ that they have lost the battle. According to the Katsina state born Nigerian President ‘’the Bandits Group and their armed followers are now under relentless pressure from the military Forces who are well-equipped to effectively deal with these mass murderers’’.
Prior to the declarations of the Bandits Group as terrorists, which modus Operandi, are not quite different from the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram and its 2015, breakaway faction, the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, Nasir El-Rufai, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, during the Olusegun Obasanjo Administration, and now governor of Kaduna state, had urged the Nigerian President, ‘’to declare the Bandits Group, whose members are scattered all over the forests in Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto, Katsina , Niger as terrorists
El-Rufai had confirmed that that the state had ‘’written several letters to the Federal government between 2017 and October, 2021, calling for the declaration of the Group as terrorists to allow the military deal with them without any major consequences in the international Law’’. Even the National Assembly were said to have called on the retired Army General ‘’ to declare the Bandits Group as terrorists’’ but that was how far it could go. An elated Matawalle who had applauded the Nigerian President for declaring the armed Bandits as terrorists had said that ‘’it will help in flushing out the Criminal elements from the Nigerian forests’’.
While the heat is now on the Bandits operating in the entire north western geopolitical region, the Bandits which have also extended their operations to Niger, home state of Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General and former military President, may have further extended their operations to Kwara, home state of Ibrahim Gambari, a Professor and Chief of Staff to Buhari, thus giving the people of the state and the neighbouring south west states of Oyo, Osun and Ondo a cause for concern. The Bandits, who may have infiltrated Kwra state from Niger, were said launched attacks on two different local government areas recently.
One of the attacks was said to have occurred at Egbejila along Obate village, in Asa local government Area, where a fish farmer, identified to be a retired Deputy Comptroller of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, one Mohammed Zarma, was kinapped on Thursday, January 6, 2022. The Bandits were said to have invade the retired senior Customs officer fish farm with AK 47 rifles and took him away through the bush where they were said t have attacked Ogele, Pampo and Arowosaye villages
The second attack was said to have been carried out by the Bandits Group along Obo Ayegunle/Osi road in Ekiti local government Area of the state. The infiltration of the Bandits to Kwara state may have informed why Professor Gambari had used his position to ensure adequate military and Force presence in the state to forestall future attacks.
The Bandits infiltration of Kwara and the armed herdsmen reported killing of three persons in Molege , an Agrarian settlement in Ose Local government Area of Ondo state may have informed why Onyemi Oyediran, the state Commissioner of Police visited the Area last Friday, to assess the level of damage in order to give a field back to Usman Alkali Baba, the Inspector General of Police, IGP. The worry of many is that the Bandits who have penetrated the ranks of the armed herdsmen and are now working together are doing everything within their capacity to turn the south west state into another Benue state.
Angered by what he saw on ground in the Molege village, the Police Commissioner was said to have deployed men of the special squads and Police Mobile Force personnel to the Community ‘’to ensure the protection of lives and property and to forestall the armed herdsmen attackers from extending the attack to other Agrarian Communities in the state and subsequent spread to the towns. Appealing to the people to give the Police genuine information, he disclosed that it is the only way that ‘’crime could be reduced to the barest minimum in the state’’.
Already, the President has made it clear to those that cares to listen, that ‘’in keeping with his commitment to tackle the monster of terrorism head-on, in the Communities being attacked by the terrorists in the north east states of Adamawa, Borno, Yobe and the north western states of Zmfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi and the north central states Niger and Kwara state, the government will not abandon them , stressing that ‘’it is more determined to get rid of these outlaws’’. He has vowed that ‘’the mass murderers will become history soon because the military are not going to relent in the current operations to get rid of these Criminals terrorising innocent people in different parts of the country’’.
At present the Nigerian Army under the close watch of Farouk Yahaya, a Lt. General and Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, the Chief of Air Staff, CAS, are working closely together ‘’to flush out the various terrorists Groups across the country. The retired Army General has given his words’’to procure more military hardwares ‘’to crack down and eliminate all the Criminal gangs operating in the Nigerian forests that are terrorising innocent people including those imposing illegal taxes on Communities under siege’’.
Buhari could beat his chest that the military are going to deal ruthlessly with the terrorists because the government has bowed to pressure based on the Abuja, the FCT, Federal High Court , declaration that the Bandits Group operating the north western geopolitical region are terrorists.
Given the declaration of the Bandits Group as a terrorist Organisation which have given the military edge over them , Samuel Orytom, governor of Benue state, would want the FG, to also declare Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and the Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM, terrorising farmers in the state and security operatives, as terrorist Organistations to give the military powers to kill them without restraint. Security experts believe that this may be a difficult decision for the Nigerian President to take given his response to questions asked by the Channels Television Interviewers relating to the conflict between armed herdsmen and farmers , across the country last Wednesday which was very revealing.