By Suleiman Umaru
In spite of the Presidential declaration that there would be peace in the restive Communities across the country in the coming months, the Bandits Group, operating in the north west geo-political region’s state of Zamfara, described as home of the Bandits, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi and the north central state of Niger, have continued unleash mayhem on the people.
This is evident with the recent attack in two Communities in Zamfara state , killing 27 people, thus making mockery of the various startegies put in place by the military and the state government to restore peace in the state.
Security reports has it that the killer gang Bandits had attacked Nasarawar Mai Fara in Tsafe Local government area and Yr Katsina, in Bungudu, LGA, of the state, throwing the Communities and its environs into fear as people run for their safety. Mohammed Shehu, a Superintendent of Police and Zamfara state Police Command spokesperson who is never tired tired of issuing Statements about the Bandits turned terrorsits Group killings in the north west state had said that that seven persons were killed in Nasarawar ommunity alone while 10 were in Yar Kastina Community.
Given the close working relationship between Matawalle Bello, the Zamfara state governor and Hussaini, the state Commissioner of Police to ensure peace in nooks and cranieso f the state, may have informed why the Police Commissioner visited the villages on Saturday, February, 5, 2022, to assess the existing the security arrangement and to reassure the people that there was cause for alarm as the situation was under control. The visit of the top level security official in the state to two attacked by the Bandits may have restored the ‘’Confidence of the locals on the government to protect life and property in the state’’.
Unconformed report has it that the Bandits attack On Nasarawar Mai Fara Communty in Tsafe LGA, may not be unconnected to the failure of the residents to pay the N40 million levy imposed by the illegal Criminal elements government in the area. But the state police Command had said that they were not aware of such levies.
Recall that that the Bandits Camp which are scattered all over the Zamfara state forests, were said to have sent letters to nine Communities in the north west state to start paying levy that runs into millions of naira to them ‘’to avoid being attacked’’. The Letters were said to have sent to Wawan Icce Salihu, Wawan Icce Ibrahim, Gangara, Gande, Tungae Gebe, Nan Narki, Ruwan Kura and Yar Galma and several other undisclosed Communities in other LGAs, in the state.
in Bukkuyun local government Area of the state. The Bandi had boldly claimed to be in-charge of the rural Communities and there residents must pay tax to them . This is the sad situation in rural Zamfara Communities where the rampaging Bandits appear to reign supreme as they could turn their guns on the natives at any times if their financial demands are not met. It is not surprising why the attacks which seems to have died down some few months a ago have suddenly become more pronounced in the recent time.
Recall that Rabiu, the state Commissioner of Police had said that with the tight security mounted in the state, 80 of the Bandits, operating in the state , had relocated to Sokoto ,late President Shehuu Shagari, home state and other parts of the northwest state and Niger state while 20 are still operating in the state. Ibrahim Dosara, the state Commissioner For Information had revealed that that there are over 100 Bandits Camps, operating the forest in different Local government areas in the state , with 32 armed followers that are causing trouble in the rural Communities, meaning that there is no end in sight in sight to the Bandits attack in the state for now.
The situation in Zamfara rural Communities may not different from what is happening I Katsina, the Nigeria President home state. Although, there have not been established case of the Bandits imposing levy on the villages to buy their safety, but they have not stopped attacking the people. Only recently, the Bandits had attacked and allegedly killed 16 people in Katoge and Yanturaku Communities in Batari local government Area, one of the most attacked in the state by the maruding Criminal elements. The attackers were said to have also njured 13 other persons with varying degrees of injuries as survivours in the Communities scamper for safety.
The Bandits who are never tired of turning the guns on the defenseless Nigerians in the north west tates of Zamfara, Katsina and Sokot in the recent time were said to have killed seven persons in Kaduna state Communities during their recent attack. The victims were said to be Commuters along the Ungwan Rimi- Afana road in Zangon Kataf LGA. The armed Bandits were said to have also attacked Communite in Sabon Garin Ungwar Dalha Igabi LGA, in the state with loss of lives.
May are worried that that the Bandits are becoming too many despite the intensified surveillance operations in the areas regularly exposed attacks because of lack of presence of presence of security Operatives in such areas.
While the Locals in Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna are no longer finding it funny staying in their homes for fear of attack by Bandits, the situation is more worrisome in Niger, Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General and former military President home state. With the repeated attack , killings and kidnappings ravaging the Niger state Communities that had forced Abubakar Bello, the state governor to cry out to Lt. General Farouk Yahaya, the Chief of Army Staff, may have encouraged him to pay an Operational visit to Army bases the state.
Angered by what he saw on ground may have forced him to read the riot Act to the Operational Commanders ‘’to rise up to the Challenges and take bold steps to tackle the menace of Banditry, terrorism and kidnapping in the state’’.
Onyema Nwachuku, a Brigadier General and Director of Army Public Relations, had said that ‘’the tour was a continuation of ongoing evaluation and review of troops’ Operations in the fight against Banditry, terrorism and other sundry crimes in the country’’.
The COAS, who is under pressure from the retired Army General , to deliver on his mandate to mobilise his soldiers to crush the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram , the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, operating in the north east states of Borno, Yobe and the Bandits Group in the the north west region including the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, operating in the south geo-politiccal region and other Criminal elements across the country appears to be a hurry to do so ahead of the 2023, general elections. He will not want any Operational Commander to play a spoiler’s role to his efforts in this trying times that the country is passing through a phase which demands much from him with the Confidence reposed on him by the retired Army General.
Although , Tukur Buratai, a retired LG.General and former COAS, and now Nigerian Ambassador to Benin Republic , could not do much when he occupied the office but he is optimistic that the present crop of service Chiefs are’’ equal to the task of crushing Banditry and terrorism and kidnapping activities across the country’’.
The reopening of the 13Km, Maiduguri – Dikwa- Gamboru Ngala, road for motorists after several years of Closure in Borno state, by Babaga Zulum, a Prfessor and the governor, alongside the military, confirms what Buratai, the former COAS, had said about the service Chiefs that they will deliver on their mandate of restoring peace in the restive states.
Appreciative of the military an vigilantes , for securing the region, the has urged the road users ‘’to be law-abiding and Cooperate with the security agencies personnel for full return of economic activities in the area’’. Note that that the Maiduguri-Dikwa-Gamboru Ngala, Highway is one of the busiest and most popular Commercial road linking the north eat subregion to the neighbouring West African countries of Niger , Chad and the Central African country of Cameroon.
The Highway had been closed as a result of the several attacks on Dikwa, Mafa and Gamboru Ngala by Insurgents crisis –crossing the Lake Chad region, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria, thus crippling economic activities I the area. The closure of the road for motorists may have reduced the terrorists attack on Army Operational bases in Dikwa, Mafa and Gamboru-Ngala. Let u hope that the Operation Hadi –Kai, troops would be alive to their responsibility instaed of relaxing that may give room to the BokoHaram and ISWAP, to beat their security to penetrate these Borno towns again to launch attack, kill and return to the forest to restrateegise and prepare for another attack. The Army Commanders in the region may have known that COAS, would not take any excuse for resumed attack in the affected towns if they fail to checkmate the terrorists and movement on the reopened Maiduguri-Dikwa-Gamboru-Ngala road. Many see the reopening of the busy Borno Highway as a victory for Buhari, for keeping to his promise of going to restore peace in the north east state in the coming months.