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Wednesday, 07 June 2023 08:26

Terrorists intensifying attacks to force new governors into peace deals – Survivors

In the last five days, residents of rural communities in both Zamfara and Sokoto states have been at the receiving end of renewed terrorist attacks which survivors say are aimed at forcing the new governors in the states into negotiating with the assailants.

On 29 May, new governors were inaugurated in all seven states in the north-west region and Niger State in central Nigeria; the states most affected by banditry.

Some former state governors of the region like Aminu Masari of Katsina, Abdulaziz Yari and Bello Matawalle of Zamfara at different times, entered into peace accords with the terrorist gangs operating in their state. However, the deals quickly fell through with the gangs returning to kidnapping travellers and villagers and carrying out widespread killings in the area.

Governor Bello Matawalle and Governor Aminu Masari
Governor Bello Matawalle and Governor Aminu Masari

PREMIUM TIMES spoke to two victims of kidnapping in Zamfara State who said that the renewed onslaughts are being perpetrated to force the new governors into negotiating with the outlaws.

“When we were at the bandits’ camp, we heard on several occasions the bandits discussing how they would intensify attacks on communities and highways to force the new governor to embrace dialogue with them,” a 37-year-old local trader in Katuru village in the Shinkafi area told PREMIUM TIMES.


The victim, who asked not to be named for fear of his safety, said the terrorists who abducted him were under Bello Turji, the notorious banditry kingpin operating in northern Zamfara and eastern Sokoto.

Another victim of kidnapping who was abducted recently along with her three brothers in Gora in Zamfara State said the leader of the terrorist gang that kidnapped them reprimanded his boys for abducting a “small girl” when they should be killing people and abducting high profile community leaders.

“Walahi, I heard it with my ears when he was shouting at his boys. He said they should let me go. He said he wanted them to kill a lot of people and abduct big people so that the government will know they are serious. He said if the governor is serious, he would call them and listen to them because they’re indigenes of the state too.

“I was taken to the main road in the evening while my brothers were held. Our family members had to gather money for their release,” the 24-year-old, who now lives with her uncle in Talata Mafara told PREMIUM TIMES over the phone.

Sulaiman Mafara, abducted on Funtua - Gusua highway
Sulaiman Mafara, abducted on Funtua – Gusua highway

A community worker who has conducted extensive research on banditry in Zamfara State, Buhari Moriki, said the reports could be true.


He said he supports sitting down with the terrorists but that it must be done on two conditions.

“I support the idea of dialogue but it must not be the one that will allow the bandits to keep their weapons. It should also not be a situation where the bandits will be provided with money or to be given priority over other residents.

“When they lose such priority and money, they’ll return to their old ways. They also use the money given to them to buy more arms and continue to perpetrate violence,” he said.

He advised that government should reach out to local leaders who can sit with the terrorists and their leaders to reach an agreement.

When contacted, the Zamfara State governor’s senior special assistant on media and publicity, Mustapha Jafaru-Kaura, said the state government was not aware of such reports.

He said the governor has always been clear that he would not dialogue with terrorists.

“His Excellency (Dauda Lawal) has been clear about the issue of a peace accord. He even granted an interview to Radio France (International) and he said that he would not sit with the terrorists to discuss anything. Besides, it’s not the government that goes around looking for bandits to discuss with,” he said.

Attacks continue

After what appeared to be a lull in terror activities in the North-west during the elections, attacks have increased since new governors were sworn in on 29 May. Within three days, in the past week, PREMIUM TIMES gathered that terrorists have killed at least 61 people and abducted several others in Zamfara and Sokoto alone.

Dead bodies in Janbako in Zamfara State
Dead bodies in Janbako in Zamfara State

Last Saturday, the terrorists killed 21 residents in Janbako, a community in Maradun in Zamfara State. Most of those killed were vigilante members. Three residents of neighbouring Sakkida were also killed during the same attack

Over 30 women and girls were abducted in Gora on the same day. The abductees were later released by the terrorists.

The cemetery in Tangaza, Sokoto State
The cemetery in Tangaza, Sokoto State

Similarly, in the Tangaza area of Sokoto State, 37 people were killed in Raka, Rakar Dutse, Bilingawa and other communities in the area and nearby Gwadabawa.

The abduction of motorists on Shinkafi-Kaura Namoda road, Zurmi-Kaura Namoda road, and long Shinkafi-Isa-Sabon Birni roads has also increased.

[Premium Times]

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