by Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi
The northern part of this country has suffered more of the protracted war against terrorism for a good ten years. This war with its theatre’s centre in the heart of the north-east, has taken away well over 25,000 Nigerian lives. The PMB administration inherited this war against insurgency when it was six years old. In the last 4 years, the Nigerian Military has doubled down on its fight against the terrorists, and the war that was fast spreading to north western states, the FCT and even Lagos, has now been cornered to Maiduguri, Borno state, and mostly Sambisa forest, and also border communities of the Lake Chad Basin. This has seen to the concentration of military personnel in those areas, their machinery, as well as a more proactive approach by the Multinational Joint Task Force, MNJTF, comprising of military personnel from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Benin and Cameroon. The spokesperson of the Operation Lafia Dole had just released estimate figures of about 400 insurgents, that had been killed in the last 21 days of the military operations in the war theatre. Over 130 hostages were also released from various camps of the insurgents who are mostly women and children.
Banditry has also claimed over 3000 lives in Zamfara state and up to 2000 people have been rendered homeless by the activities of banditry, another form of terrorism. Violence was visited upon the inhabitants of mostly rural areas of the gold rich state. Local governments like Birnin Magaji, Shinkafi and Gumi have borne the brunt of most of these killings, which made Zamfara a land of blood gold. The bandits sacked thousands of people from their villages which was believed to be a scheme to create space for their mining activities. Livestock were rustled too, along with the killings of innocent villagers. It took Operation Hadarin Daji, which was a combined team of airforce and military personnel, in an operation to combat and put a stop to the savagery carried out by the bandits. More lives were being lost in Zamfara daily, than all the other lives that were lost in other bandit or terrorist activities in the country put together, at the time. The people in the state did not even trust the government was going to do anything about their predicament before the Hadarin Daji swoop. That was the nail in the coffin to bandit activities in Zamfara state, and from then on, any such attacks were few and far between.
Bandit activities then resumed in Katsina state as well, when in mid April this year, an estimated 50 people were killed in another round of bandit attacks in 3 local government areas of Katsina state namely; Dutsinma, Danmusa and Safana. On the 12th of May this year, another attack claimed more lives in Daudawa and Angwan Baki communities, again in Katsina state. Back in September of 2019, the Katsina State governor had struck a truce deal with the bandits which saw to the release of 30 persons that had been kidnapped in the state. Katsina was fast becoming a kidnappers paradise and the bandit activities that had run amok in Zamfara, had found new accommodation in Katsina. Even the governor’s mother inlaw was kidnapped at the time and it was clear that no one was safe from the activities of these rogues. It seemed as if the truce deal had nailed it but it was only temporary and the bandits were back again; thirsting for more blood. On the 18th of May this year, PMB launched a major military offensive for Katsina, to combat the bandits that had been running down communities in his home state. The Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, had revealed that he was working out a modus operandi of the major military operation to flush out bandits from Katsina. A more proactive Special Forces he said, were going to replace the hitherto reactive strikes against insurgent camps in the state. Another major military operation named Puff Adder, launched by the Inspector General of Police, was successful in killing a whopping 250 suspected terrorists in the forests of Southern Kaduna.
However, Sokoto state is currently the new hotbed of bandit activities, with a single bandit attack killing over 70 people. The people from Sabon Birni local government were again stopped by the bandits from offering funeral prayers for their deceased ones. The villages attacked include; Garki, Dan aduwa, Kuzari, Katuma, and Masawa. Local governments from the eastern part of the state including Gada, Gwadabawa, Illeila, Isa, Rabbah, Sabon Birni and Wurno were the targets of the bandits, sacking traditional and political authorities in those areas. The Coalition of Concerned Citizens of Sokoto state had confirmed that, from January 2020 to date, over 270 people have been killed in Sokoto state. Some attacks have even taken place near the Sokoto metropolis, at Ummarawa village. The Sokoto state governor has had to rush to Mr. President to seek superior military support, as the attacks were getting out of hand.
The North is facing a war at different ends and in various corners. Thousands of bandits are stationed in Sokoto, Zamfara, and Katsina states, while Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states have their own share of terrorists in the face of Boko Haram. It’s like a hydra headed monster with several heads, each reaching out to different locations, brewing fire and mayhem, killing its victims in a flash. The very populous northern Nigeria is fast losing its size from the mayhem of bandits and terrorists. Neighbouring countries like Niger, Chad and even Mali, capping the northern boundaries, have flushed in bandits that have imported an insurrection within northern Nigeria. At times they are said to be fulani herdsmen, sometimes bandits, and other times Boko Haram or terrorists but they all have only one thing in common – killing people with machine guns in hundreds. They are thoroughly blood thirsty and are very well trained. The new revelation in Sokoto that they are settling down in communities and becoming authorities and even serving as Judges, unveils the idea that they are perhaps foreign nationals.
It seems these bandits are connected and most likely come from the same place/s. The fall of Libya has opened up a canal for weapons to lawless persons and this weapons market has infiltrated western Africa. Northern Nigeria being a very vast and populous land is more than enough territory for them to visit their violence with. Our borders need proper surveillance and so do our rural communities. We need more policemen and perhaps the take off of the Peace Corps is long overdue. Orchestrated or not, the north is burning and needs all the operations that the military can come up with.