Just when many Nigerians thought bandits were being routed by the military, the bloodthirsty terrorists killed an estimated 200 people and displaced 10,000 in Zamfara last week.
According to reports, more than 300 gunmen on motorcycles stormed eight villages in the Anka local area in Zamfara last Tuesday and started shooting sporadically.
The attackers rampaged through 10 villages in Anka and Bukkuyum districts on Wednesday through Thursday, firing at residents and looting and burning homes.
The bandits burnt down the five villages, killed many residents and mutilated their bodies. The survivors have since moved to communities in the headquarters of the two affected local councils.
The terrorists who carried out the attacks were said to be fleeing from their enclaves in Fakai forest in Shinkafi Local Government Area following relentless strikes from Nigerian Air Force fighter jets.
It was gathered that trouble started when members of local vigilance groups confronted the terrorists, who were moving in a large convoy with about 3000 cattle, apparently to Gando forest in the western part of the state.
In his reaction, President Muhammadu Buhari said, “The latest attacks on innocent people by the bandits is an act of desperation by mass murderers, now under relentless pressure from our military forces who are well equipped to effectively confront these enemies of humanity.
“In keeping with my commitment to tackling the monster of terrorism head-on, let me reassure these besieged communities and other Nigerians that this government will not abandon them to their fate because we are more than ever determined to get rid of these outlaws. These criminals will be history because we are not going to relent in our current military operations to get rid of these thugs who have been terrorising innocent people.”
Recently, the Nigerian Air Force killed two notorious bandit leaders, Alhaji Auta and Kachalla Ruga, following an air raid of a forest in Zamfara State. The notorious bandit leaders were killed after a NAF aircraft, under Operation Hadarin Daji, acted on credible intelligence and bombarded their enclaves at Gusami Forest and Tsamre Village in Birnin Magaji local government area of the state. Some bandits were also killed by the military jet when they went to retrieve the body of the bandit leader, Alhaji Auta, from the scene of bombardment.
We recall that another kingpin, Bello Turji, recently released 52 kidnap victims as part of his efforts to appease the Zamfara State government towards granting him amnesty.
Sadly, Zamfara State has been the epicentre of banditry in the country and all efforts to end the menace seems to be yielding minimal results.
Last year, about 279 schoolgirls were kidnapped after gunmen invaded Government Girls Secondary School Jangebe, in Talatu-Mafara Local Government Area of the state.
President Buhari had in March declared Zamfara a no-fly zone, approving a ban on mining activities in the state. The steps are to curb the rising insecurity in the state.
Illegal mining had been linked to the rise of banditry and killings in the state. Yet the ban on mining didn’t stop the killings.
Indeed, the Zamfara State government had negotiated and granted amnesty to bandits and this newspaper had vehemently condemned the move. We warned against the futility of such a move and we were proved right as the bandits have since resumed their orgy of bloodletting and killings in the state.
The governor, Bello Matawalle, had since vowed never to negotiate with the bandits again. It is trite to say the carrot and stick approach did not turn out as he had expected.
It is gratifying to note that the federal government has declared bandits in the North West and North Central parts of the country terrorists.
In the gazette, the federal government outlawed the activities of the bandits in the two regions and any other part of the country.
With this latest move, we expect the military to use every weapon at its disposal to wipe out all the bandits. The Super Tucano jets should be used maximally against the bandits in Zamfara and other northwestern states.
Needless to say, the government should reject fresh peace moves by the bandits. They are not people you can reason with. They are terrorists and terrorists only derive joy in spilling blood and destroying property. The military onslaught should be coordinated and sustained till the last bandit is taken out. That is the only language they understand.