In order to enforce their demand that Governor Dauda Lawal engage in negotiations with them so that peace can rule, News Central gathered that the assailants have resorted to targeting local farmers who live in rural areas and then releasing them.
The bandits made this statement on Sunday following the conditional release of seven of the 13 farmers who had been kidnapped in the state’s Birnin-Magaji Local Government Area (LGA).
The bandits carried out fresh onslaughts in 13 villages and locations within the local government areas of Shinkafi and Zurmi. In the week preceding May 29, they barricaded the highways between Alawa and Kwanar Boko, killin and kidnapping commuters.
Locals in the affected areas told newsmen that the security personnel only respond after each roadblock where they scare them away and leave the scene.
A resident, Adamu Kwashafawa, who escaped Monday’s attack told newsmen: “I was coming from Gusami village to Gusau to witness the swearing-in of the new Zamfara Governor Dauda Lawal, only to discover that about seven members of the armed group were standing on the road pavement hiding their guns behind their backs. We didn’t notice from afar until we got closer.
“They kidnapped 13 of us just now and killed four other commuters.”
It is pertinent to mention that News Central reported earlier in May 2023 that hundreds of bandits, led by notorious bandits kingpin Dan karami, have migrated to territories between Safana and Batsari Local Government territories of Katsina State, Northwest Nigeria.
This is following military onslaughts in Zamfara state and its surroundings. In order to coordinate their attacks, the bandits infiltrated Tsaskiya, Runka, Gora, Labo, and other communities in the two LGAs.
Northwestern Nigeria’s Zamfara State has experienced an upsurge in violence during the past ten years. Armed with machetes, assailants invade villages on motorbikes and set them on fire, rape, steal, and kill.
They suddenly emerge on the roadways, shooting drivers and taking scared passengers from their vehicles to be either shot or ransomed. Even children are not safe; hundreds of students have been kidnapped from boarding schools throughout the state and held captive at bandit hideouts buried deep in the woods while being demanded for ransom.
The trend of armed banditry in Zamfara state and across the Northwest region partly has its origins in Nigeria’s farmer-herder crisis, which has forced herders into farmlands through indiscriminate grazing, thereby often damaging farmers’ crops in the process and creating heightened tensions and conflict.
This resulted in the formation of local vigilante groups by farmers to provide protection against armed bandits. Recall, in 2022, the Nigerian Government proscribed armed bandits as terrorists, paving the way for the use of force against these groups, as part of its broader military strategy. This policy decision could potentially trigger cooperation between armed bandits and terrorists.
Numbering in the thousands with as many as 30,000 armed bandits in Zamfara, the epicentre of the crisis, and five other northern states, these bandits have also imposed eviction notices on local inhabitants in addition to perpetuating acts of sexual violence against women and girls.