Some residents of Zamfara State have denied claims that bandits in the state were relocating to neighbouring states or fleeing due to the hardship brought on them by the security operations adopted by government to curb banditry.
Residents who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend suggested that bandits are still living in their midst in Dansadau Forest and only embark on raids in neighbouring states after which they return to the cover provided by the thick forests of Zamfara.
The spokesman of the Zamfara State Police Command, Muhammad Shehu, could also not provide a definite response to suggestions that bandits were moving out of the state and setting up base elsewhere.
According to the residents, there is nothing like bandits moving from Zamfara to form new bases in Sokoto State.
Speaking with residents, LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that bandits only move to the local government areas neighbouring Zamfara to operate and return to their camps in the state.
Neighbouring local government areas such as Isa, Sabon Birnin, Goronyo, Rabah, Tureta up to Dange/Shuni recently experienced attacks.
It was gathered that the bandits have permanent camps in the various forests of Dunburum in Zurmu local government area which borders Katsina, Sububu and Bayan Ruwa forests in Maradun local government area as well as Gundumi Forest, which harbours bandits who operate within communities in Sokoto State.
It was further gathered that communities in Zamfara State are not free from series of attacks from the bandits as in recent times, they ransacked Kurya town, Kungurki and Sakajiki in Kaura Namoda local government area where scores were killed and vehicles, including a police patrol van were set ablaze.
The stringent measures imposed by the Zamfara State government have had mixed results as it seemed the activities of the bandits were not threatened by the shutdown of GSM networks.
In some cases, it was thought to have even facilitated the free movement of bandits within Sokoto and Zamfara as there was no means of communication to alert security agents about their movement.
A resident of Sakajiki town, Mallam Abdullahi, said he once saw the bandits coming out of Maradun Forest, crossing Kaura Namoda-Gusau road and moving to the eastern part of the state.
Also, one Mallam Adamu said the bandits in Zamfara never settled outside the state but casually operate in Sokoto or Kebbi state and return to their base in Zamfara.
“It is hard for the bandits to move out of Zamfara to settle in Sokoto because of the thick forests they enjoy in Zamfara and almost all the bandit commanders have their permanent camps here in Zamfara,” he said.
According to him, bandit commanders such as Sani Mochoko, Damana and Dogo Gide all reside in Dansadau Forest.
The bandits were said to have imposed levies on some villagers in Maradun local government area in order for them to harvest their farm produce.
A resident of Falau village said a bandit commander in the Bayan Ruwa forest, Jimmo, imposed the levy on every household to either pay in cash or give grains equivalent to the levy.
Worried over the perpetual attacks and rampant rape of women, a group of women from Tsafe town recently staged a peaceful protest and barricaded Zaria-Gusau highway for three hours.
A traveller from Kano who was also trapped, Zainab, said over 1,000 motorists travelling to or from Gusau, Sokoto and Kebbi states were blocked for several hours.
The women appealed to the state and federal governments to be more focused in the fight against banditry as the current measures adopted by the state government had no effect and never yielded any positive result in the fight against banditry.
The police spokesman, SP. Muhammad Shehu, said he had nothing to say about the movement of bandits from Zamfara to anywhere.
“What do you want me to say on the movement of bandits out of the state? Had it been communities moving from their villages then I can talk about that, but nothing to say about bandits’ movement,” he said.
Emir Threatens Traditional Rulers Over Collusion With Terrorists
The Emir of Ningi in Bauchi State, Alhaji Yunusa Mohammed Danyaya, has threatened to suspend any traditional ruler, be they district, village or ward heads, found to have connived with any terrorist or bandit.
Giving the warning at an emergency meeting with traditional rulers and title holders over the state of security in his domain in Ningi yesterday, the emir said any title holder found in such an act of connivance would have himself to blame.
He said, “I do not play with issues bordering on insecurity in the emirate. It is for this I summoned you all to physically warn you with a view to ensure that you guard your areas of responsibilities so as to maintain the relative already achieved.
“I called this emergency meeting with leaders under the Ningi emirate based on media reports that some traditional institutions are conniving with bandits to perpetuate crimes. It is for this singular but magnificent reason that I call this meeting to abreast you on the happenings within the state.
“I called traditional rulers under my domain asking them about the truth of the matter on the various media reports circulating across the country. I have also ordered full investigations into the matter to ascertain the genuinely or otherwise of the matter. Anybody found in the act would be flushed out from the system”.
“But if there are those in the connivance, because we want to determine between now and when the investigation would be concluded, anyone found greasing hands with the bandits would be shown the way out.”
He said the PDP-led government under Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed was making every effort to ensure the safety of lives and properties in the state, hence, “In our positions as traditional rulers would continue to join forces with the government to ensure that insecurity problems are nipped in the bud.”
It would be recalled that the Ningi emir had three months ago held similar meetings with traditional leaders in his domain in the effort to curb security problems in the emirate.
Police Arrest 14-year-old Bandit in Katsina
Meanwhile, Police in Katsina State have announced the arrest of a 14-year-old boy for allegedly being involved in a series of cattle rustling and banditry attacks in the state.
The boy who was taken from Tsamben Dankulumbo village in Jibia local government area of the state was among several other suspects paraded yesterday at the headquarters of the police command where he confessed to being under the command of one Maliki, a notorious bandit leader hiding in the forest.
He also confessed to having participated in several attacks in Mallamawa and Jibia among others where he shot and killed two people and participated in rustling an unspecified number of cows.
The command’s spokesman, Gambo Isah, who paraded the suspect, said he also confessed to having been involved in an attack on Dankulumbo village in Jibia where they rustled five cows after which N50,000 was given to him as his share of the proceeds.
“The suspect said he acquired skills of operating an AK-47 rifle from bandits in the forest. The investigation is ongoing,” Isah said.
Abuja-Kaduna Train Attack: Insecurity Taking New, Terrible Dimension – ACF
The apex northern socio-cultural organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), yesterday condemned the attack on Abuja-Kaduna train by suspected bandits.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Weekend on telephone, ACF national publicity secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, while describing the attack on a train as unfortunate.
He urged the civil populace to support government and security agencies to tackle the insecurity.
He said:”We condemn the reported attacks on Abuja-Kaduna train in strong terms. The insecurity is taking a new and terrible dimension.
“Many people now use train as the Abuja-Kaduna road is under rehabilitation, now train services have been suspended following the unfortunate attack”
“They attacked plane, they harassed people on the road and they have attacked train, it’s unfortunate. That means one day if care is not taken, they will hijack a train and imagine the number of people in the train, it will be terrible.”
“The attack on a train is a wake-up call not only for the government and security agencies but also for the civil population. People living around the rail track should be vigilant, Nigerians should all cooperate and support the government and security agencies to tackle insecurity” ACF said.