In Niger, Continuous Peace Deal With Bandits ‘Is The Only Solution’. But Will Banditry End Soon? 

Making a truce with the bandits who terrorise their territories remains the last option for residents of many villages in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State to continue living peacefully in their communities. But peace ceases to reign when the truce agreement elapsed.

In the absence of a peace deal, residents often pay the supreme price — wanton killings — and restrictions from their farmlands. Sadly, different bandits’ groups come for peace deals at different times, making the farmers lose significant amounts of their profit to the terror groups. 

READ: Marauding Bandits Kill Five, Abduct District Head in Kano

Last year, residents of some villages in the area had to negotiate a deal to provide money, motorcycles, food, or other necessities to the bandits as a truce to allow people to return to their villages and farm during the rainy season.

Sani Abubakar Yusuf Kokki, a co-convener of the Shiroro Youth Association in Niger State, told BBC Hausa that the agreement became imperative for the people of the affected villages. He said about a dozen of residents had fled their villages last year because of bandits’ raids.

“All people you see here have returned after an agreement with the bandits was made, to allow people to return to their places to go and cultivate,” he said.

The youth leader opined that the deal was, however, ambiguous even though it allows them to return to farming. “But on the other hand, the gunmen would come and ask for other things beforehand to allow them to continue farming.”

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READ: Bandits Block Abuja-Kaduna Highway, ‘Kill Scores, Kidnap 30’

Being an area controlled by different bandits factions, “you can make a deal with one gang today, only to see another gang tomorrow asking you to give them something before they let you stay and farm.”

Koki said that his people had no choice but to follow the orders of the agreement. According to him, the only solution “is to provide us with security.”

Contrarily, the Niger State government doubts the deal. Ahmad Ibrahim Matane, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), said:  “Firstly, we do not even believe or expect that these villagers are in agreement with the bandits.  

“Secondly, if there is, I think it is minimal. Thirdly, because of the effort of His Excellency the Governor of Niger State Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello in collaboration with the Federal Government, the security forces have been very successful, we will sustain these and strengthen them to see the end of this terror.” 

WikkiTimes’ findings of how Niger State is becoming a colony of terrorists are seen here, here and here.

The virility of armed groups in Niger State is no more news, even though Matane discards the truce claims. Abubakar Sani Bello, the state governor in many instances had raised concerns about the presence of “Boko Haram terrorists” in the state.

The claim by villagers that some areas are under the control of the bandits and the consequential agreement to enable them to cultivate their farms have further explained how the security crisis continues to drag the people of northern Nigeria back.

Will Banditry End Soon?

What started as farmer-herders crises soon snowballed into full-fledged insecurity with a horrible approach of cattle rustling, kidnapping for ransom and ruthless killings. 

Earlier this year, Bello Matawalle, the governor of Zamfara State — a leading banditry hotspot in the country — said he foresees no end to the mayhem, “because of the caliber of individuals behind it.”

READ: Bandits Regroup In Kussasun After Losing Four Men To JTF In Niger

There are instances where district heads and local politicians were indicted for aiding terrorist activities in their communities. This did not exclude some residents working as spies for the terrorists.

Recall that WikkiTimes reported how a Kaduna councilor landed in the police net for allegedly delivering firearms to bandits in the bush. This came a few days after three monarchs were sacked for abetting banditry. 

Besides these unlucky scenarios, the banditry industry would be hard to quash, given the multifaceted dimension of kidnapping for ransom. 


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