By Suleiman Umaru
For years, there have been rumours making the rounds that there is a working relationship between the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram, Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, a splinter group of BokoHaram and the Bandits operating in the north west states of Zamfara,Kaduna and Katsina, Buhari ‘s home state
Officials of the Directorate of State Security, Directorate of Military Intelligence, DMI and in other Intelligence agencies of the government may not have taken it serious. The rumour mongers had exposed the fact that the Bandits operating in the north west states are using the money realised from the state governments and families of kidnapped victims to fund the Bokoharam Insurgents in the north east states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
Take for instance, the Zamfara state government, alone, as revealed by one of the state Commissioners recently had oaid over N900,000 million ransom to the Bandits for the elease of kidnapped victims in the state over the years. There are indications that Aminu Masari, a former Speaker of House Of Representatives and now governor of Katsina state had paid $76,000, equivalent of N30million to secure the release of344 kidnapped kidnapped studens of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in the state.
Nasiru El-Rufai, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and now governor of Kaduna state who may have been following the operations of the Bandits in his home state, Kaduna, and may have been involved in paying ransom to the Bandits in the past to facilitate the release of kidnapped people from the state coffers may have realised that it is a waste of Tax payers’ money.
. He may have stopped such payments when his eye opened to the realities on the ground that he has threatened to prosecute any person found Negotiating with the Bandits in the state. He had said that’’ ‘’the Bandits renewed attack in the state were as a result of the government’s decision that it would not Negotiate with them’’. This may have drawn the battle line with the Bandits.
Hear him: ‘’We will not give them any money and they will not make any profit from Kaduna state, insisting that any Bandit operating in the state with the hope of making money would be disappointed as he will never get dine from the state government but bullet wounds.
Note that that the Bandits have been keeping in their Custody 39 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation Afaka, in the state and there is no hope of their release as the Bandits are insisting that the money , which runs into millions for their ransom, demand as ransome , to facilitate their release must be paid to the last Kobo or they would be wasted. The governor may not want that that to happen as he may be forced to go back on his words but Negotiate with the Bandits despite the assurance that that the Authorities are doing everything within their powers to secure their release.
The Kaduna state governor may have given an insight on the link between BokoHaram, ISWAP and the Bandits operating in the north west, when he opened up that the ISWAP insurgents had been attracted by the Bandits operating in the state to strengthen their kidnapping operations in order to raise money to procure arms and ammunitions to sustain the tempo the war in the war in the north east.
He had said that the ISWAP insurgents, which are currently Camping in the Lake Chad region, bordering the West African countries of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and the Central African country of Cameroon have started assembling in in the forest of Birni Gwari Local government Area of the state. The group which operates in the name of Ansa Ur, he said has the same objectives as BokoHaram though they are not against western Education which was their point of departure.
Perhaps, this may have informed why there had been several kidnap cases in Kaduna state in the recent time. Appearing on Channels Television, Sunday Politics , on April 4, 2021, the former FCT , minister, during the Administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, popular, OBJ, had said that ‘’the kidnapping operations by the Bandits in the north west Geopolitical region, and Niger, home state of Ibrahim Babangida, a retired army General and former military President in north central Geo-political egion are substantially funding the BokoHaram insurgents activities.
According to him the terrorist groups have no way of getting more money to fund their activities in the recent time because of the close monitoring of the money entering or leaving the country in any international transactions by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
El-Rufai, may have hit the nail on the head when he said this may have informed why many of them have’’slipped and joined the ranks of the Bandits in the north west to kidnap and ask for ransom. The aggrieved Kaduna state governor maintained that under the current circumstances there was no way BokoHaram or the ISWAP insurgents could raise enough funds from their local or foreign sponsors to stand the Nigerian military because of the CBN, monetary policy, to fund their operations in the north east, let alone support any other Criminal gang, without the help of the Bandits from the north west who had resorted to kidnapping.
Describing the Bandits and The insurgents kidnapping operations in the north west, a structured industry where the Criminal elements now have specialized roles to play within their ranks to enable attack Communities and schools, he declared that the government are out for them.
Giving an insider information of those who had been sustaining the operations of the Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgents in the north west as well as the Bandits in the north west, he had listed the petrol suppliers, informants, truck suppliers, food suppliers, gun runners who supply the arms and ammunitions , including the medical doctors who are involved treating the insurgents who had sustained bullet wounds from the Nigerian and the Multi-National Joint Task Force, MNJTF, troops during attacks
For President Olusegun Obasanjo and Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, an Islamic Cleric, the only way to put an end to the activities of the Bandits in different parts of the country is for the government’’ to establish Special Courts to handle cases of kidnapping, ransom demanding and unlawful carrying of weapons in the country’’. But whether the Nigerian President will cue to the suggestion by the two elder statesmen remain to be seen.
Many believe that the Nigerian military and MNJTF, has the capacity to crush the Bandits, operating in the north west and theBokoHaram and ISWAP insurgents operating in the north east going by what happened this Easter as the security Operatives did not give them any opportunity to strike because of the tight security in different parts of the country.
This is an indication that the security Chiefs already know what to do but had failed to do so. They should be ready to fish out the informants of these enemies of state among the various security agencies and flush them out to be able to secure the security of the country. Mohammed Adamu , the Inspector General of Police, may have taken the bold initiative to do so when he gave the matching order to the Assistant Inspector Generals of Police, AIGs and the State Commissioners’ of Police to mobilise their officers and Men to protect their areas of Jurisdictions. The AIGs and The state CPs, may have known the implications of any adverse report coming out from their areas of control that the Bandits , BokoHaram or ISWAP , had kidnapped travellers or struck , this Easter. It was not surprising why they had tightened up security in different parts of the country , particular, the north west and north east ,including the north central states that they could not have the opportunity to strike.