The valour of banditry, the organized crime committed by outlaws in northern Nigeria seems to be increasing in brash and bravery, as the behaviour of the bandits is changing from boldness to fearlessness. This week alone, the news coming from the states of Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara, are not only pathetically painful, but callously challenging to the capacity of the country’s security.
Few days after bandits killed 63 vigilantes in Sakaba Local Government Area of Kebbi state, last Tuesday, the bandits reportedly killed 19 security agents in the entourage of the Kebbi State deputy governor, Samaila Yombe, in another part of the state.
According to the deputy governor, Col. Samaila Yombe rtd., an ex soldier, who narrowly escaped death, “the terrorists disguised themselves as members of the community, making it difficult to confront them”.
Yombe, who visited the village to condole them over the killing of their members by the bandits, was in the company of the 223 Battalion commanding officer. But despite the intimidating presence of the commander’s guards, the bandits were bold enough to attack.
“When we arrived at Kanya, we got reports that the bandits mixed up with the inhabitants of the village. So, It was difficult to have fought the bandits in the midst of the people because the collateral damage would have been much. We then adopted a strategy to move out of the town so that they follow us. In the process, because we were both vulnerable, both sides recorded casualties. From the gunshots, you will assume they were 200 or 250 terrorists. And the soldiers were a unit of about 30 troops, escorting the commanding officer”- Yombe.
Kebbi state shares boundaries with Niger State, another state that is one of the worst-hit by bandits’ attacks. Last week, about ten people were reportedly killed and several injured in coordinated attacks in some villages of the state.
According to eye witnesses, the bandits, numbering about 100, stormed the villages around 4 pm on Saturday, ransacked each community and unleashed havoc on the residents, including the rustling of an unconfirmed number of cattle.
As a show of cruelty, the bandits killed one person each at certain communities. And to further prove their barbaric behaviour, they stormed the venue of a wedding ceremony in Gbacitagi community and abducted the bride as well as one other girl.
Interestingly, this was happening almost around the same time with the beautiful piece of journalism from Abdulaziz Abdulaziz of the TrustTV, who thrilled viewers with what is now called the first media interview with Bello Turji, the notorious Zamfara banditry kingpin, that has taken it upon himself to unleash terror in the north west axis of Nigeria.
Using the skills of a professional, Abdulaziz succeeded in getting Turji to speak on a number of issues, including the root cause of banditry in the region.
Particularly puzzling is Abdulaziz’s courage in penetrating the den of the bandits, which literally looks like he was ahead of the security operatives, in terms of the use of intelligence.
Abdulaziz’s interview with Bello Turji started thus,
There is an open letter addressed to the emir, the governor and President Buhari, which has gone viral, said to have been written by you. Is that true?
Turji: Indeed, I am the one that wrote the letter.
Abdulaziz: Why did you write the letter?
Turji: Because of the people that are being killed who have no idea what is going on in the country. There is fake news in the media that we are being defeated. I consider the loss of lives while the people are being lied to that we are being defeated. I pity the lives being wasted, both the Fulani and Hausa; so I thought we should come together and live in peace and that we shouldn’t use the insecurity situation for politics.
Much as there is a rule that gives journalists the right not to reveal their sources of information, especially where the revelation may lead to the identification of the source, by that commendable piece of investigative journalism from Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, the military needs to wake up to its expected responsibility of nipping banditry in the bud.
If a journalist can have the ability to reach out to the den of the wanted, through contact with people that can be trusted, and the wanted can feel secured enough to welcome him and even entertain him, I think the military should have the capacity to do better.
It’s all a question of building confidence, and the provision of protection to the informants and whistle-blowers that provide the information. The military is well trained for that.
Long ago, the governor of Zamfara state, H.E. Bello Muhammad Matawalle, had warned that banditry would not end any soon in the region because as he puts it, “some people are behind it. Some people are using it and all they need is at least to show Nigerians that both the federal and Zamfara state governments are not serious on the issue of insecurity, despite the fact that some of them are involved in the crisis of this insecurity”
In agreeing with Matawalle, and with the success recorded by Abdulaziz Abdulaziz in meeting eye to eye with the wanted kingpin of the bandits, methinks the military can do it if they want to, i.e. bring an end to the brash and barbaric behaviour of the bandits.