A video footage obtained by Premium Times revealed that at least seven leaders of the terror groups including Ado Aliero were seen in attendance at the meeting with a top delegation from the federal government.
The meeting which was alleged to be sponsored by the federal government under the Ministry of Defense angered Zamfara state governor, Dauda Lawal who hitherto, vowed not to negotiate with terrorists, thus accusing the Aso Rock villa of negotiating with the terrorists in his state without his knowledge.
WikkiTimes has reported that Lawal has fingered some federal government agencies for secretly initiating negotiations with bandits without his knowledge.
Barely 24 hours after the governor’s allegation, the federal government through the Minister of Defence, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, refuted the alleged secret negotiation with bandits.
However, the clips and other sources confirmed that the clandestine meeting was held in a school at Fankama, Faskari local government of Katsina state on 18 September 2023, alongside two representatives of the federal government as well as officers of the Nigerian Army.
Sources disclosed that besides Aliero, other bandit kingpins present at the meeting include; Yusuf Yellow, Masume, Alhaji Bandi, Alhaji Kabiru, Goma Tashin Like, and Idi Muwange. They are allegedly responsible for the abduction and killings of thousands in the North-west region.
A source who requested anonymity for safety and for not being authorized to speak said other meetings were subsequently held in Zamfara State. “I can confirm that the meeting took place and several subsequent meetings were held in Zamfara State.”
Another source, a soldier, corroborated that the leaders of seven terror gangs that attended the meeting in Fankama were Ado Aleiro, Yusuf Yellow, Masume, Alhaji Bandi, Alhaji Kabiru, Goma Tashin Like (which is his alias), and Idi Muwange.
The two government officials believed to be from Abuja who led the meeting were someone simply identified as Bello and Muhammad Auwal.
In one of the video clips also seen by the medium, Mr Auwal introduced himself before addressing the gathering.
“Peace be upon you, My name is Muhammad Auwal from Abuja. I’m one of the committee… I’m one of the representatives sent from Abuja, from the ministers’ side after meeting with security agents and top officials of the federal government in Abuja.” Mr Auwal said standing on a school desk.
Beside him was a soldier taking notes of the proceedings and one civilian, who turned out to be Mr Tuggoje.
“Myself and Bello came from Abuja and met our colleagues in Gusau (Zamfara State capital) up to this meeting. As Alhaji stated earlier, this is the third time we’re meeting (negotiations); we’ve met in Bawo, we’ve also met in Bagega (all in Zamfara State) and we’ll continue by God’s grace.
In the footage, Auwal explained “We’ve come with official confirmation from the top concerning the need for negotiations.….,” he said.
Auwal said three items were being discussed during the negotiation – kidnapping, highway attacks and killings including of residents of rural communities, adding that the terrorists had started fulfilling their promises of stopping the attacks.
The insider source said the money was not involved in the Fankama negotiations. “Some of the things the delegation kept emphasising during the issue was that no one would be given money for accepting the peace accord.
“The reality is that when the bandit leaders came, the first thing they began saying was that several of their people were arrested by security agents. They said most of those arrested were innocent. So, the delegation took names of those they said were innocent with a promise to take the issue to the federal government,” he said.
In another video, one of the mediators was heard telling the terrorists to stop attacking motorists on the Funtua – Gusau highway.
When videos and photos from the Fankama meeting appeared online, Nigeria’s defence headquarters vowed to investigate the soldiers involved.
Tukur Gusau, the Defence Headquarters spokesperson, in a statement, said “The attention of the Defence Headquarters was drawn to a video clip in circulation across social media handles of some soldiers engaging with bandits somewhere in Katsina State.
“The DHQ is investigating the video to confirm its authenticity as regards the soldiers seen in uniform. The DHQ is aware of the resolve of some bandits to repent and hand over their weapons to the authorities. This is yielding good results and is ongoing.