ANALYSIS: What About Zamfara Govt’s Peace Deal With Celebrated Bandit Kingpin, Bello Turji?

It is over a week since the overwhelmed (by insecurity) Zamfara State government allied with Bello Turji, one of the terror kingpins inflicting the state and its neighbourhoods. According to the state government, Turji would help fight his unrepented brothers in the forest.

Albeit, the government also formed an alliance with nine different bandit groups, urging them to lay off their arms. But this came with a price. The terrorists also urged the government to dissolve and disarm unrestrained local vigilantes, often foiling their atrocities. That is not all, they also requested that their seized properties, like land, be returned.

The state government, however, instructed displaced persons to return to their homes. But they protested, fearing they could be targeted again. Circumstances did not prove them wrong, a few days later, bandits embarked on another spree, killing, kidnapping and pillaging local communities, especially in Bukuyum and Anka LGAs.

READ: Will Zamfara Police Boss Be Ruthless With Bandits Like He Was With Harmless Civilians In Kano?

Yesterday, the waylaying assailants disrupted a Jumat service in a mosque at Zugu village of Bukuyum LGA, kidnapping worshipers including an Imam of the mosque. Two day earlier, the Zamfara State Commissioner of Women and Children Affairs, narrowly escaped the marauders at Kwanar Dogon-Karfe, along the Sokoto-Zamfara highway.

On August 28, the terrorists ambushed a Nigerian Army convoy in Zamfara, killing two soldiers, according to reports. 

All these happened after the peace accord with the bandits. In what seems like devising another approach, the government announced two days ago that it is training some guards at the police training school to protect locals and fight unrepented bandits. This was after disarming vigilantes. Although there are allegations that the vigilantes, otherwise known as Yan Sakai, were worsening the situation with their extrajudicial killings of Fulanis.

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But Where Is Turji?

The terror kingpin was suppossed to be at the war front killing his “unrepented” brothers at the moment, according to the Deputy Governor of Zamfara State Hassan Nasiha. Turji ought to have foiled yesterday’s invasion of the Zugu mosque. Or did the peace accord fail? Who knows!

A few days after romancing Turji, the Zamfara State government urged him to publicly surrender his arms. He has not. Does this mean the peace deal was not successful?

Whatever it is, Nasiha had shamelessly disclosed that Turji would be enjoying Governor Bello Matawalle’s amnesty programme.

Why amnesty?

Turji, born in 1994 in Shinkafi local government of Zamfara State, became notorious in Nigeria, especially in the northwestern region where he left behind stories of sorrow and blood.

Raised as a Fulani cattle herder without education, Turji reigning mayhem in September 2021 when his gang attacked a market in Gonroyo, Sokoto state killing about 60 innocent people. 

This, according to him, was a retaliation for the killings of his six family members by the outlawed Yan Sakai group during an attack on a mosque in Gwadabawa. The genesis of the attack, according to reports, was linked to some cattle rustled by Yan Sakai and given to the Emir of Zurmi.

READ: After Negotiating With Terror Groups, Zamfara Govt To Buy Arms For Anti-banditry Guards

Still not satisfied after the Gonroyo attack, Turji and his gang in Sabon Birni ambushed a bus and set it alight. This led to the mindless killing of about 30 passengers.

Earlier this year, Turji masterminded the slaughtering of over 200 locals in Zamfara State. This was among the numerous attacks on civilians and security forces coupled with the abduction of farmers, women and children in the Sokoto-Zamfara axis.


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