Zamfara in the last 7 days has not ushered in the desired results following Military deployment. The Military and the bandits, at best, have been playing a cat and mouse game.
At one moment, expectations rise to the impending routing of the bandits in one particular forest and in the next moment the bandits have melted unscathed to other forests.
For instance, we are witnessing an upsurge of banditry and disturbing violence in Safana and Batsari areas in Katsina state. Media and public attention on this front is at zero level, but not any less more troubling than what had been reported in Zamfara.
Specifically, the Ruggu forest in Katsina is now home and the operational base for bandits/terrorists who fled from the Zamfara plains following Military incursions there.
Nevertheless, there are still disturbing occurrences in Zamfara State that point to the presence of terrorists or embedded mercenaries. The confrontation is now taking the form of guerrilla warfare.
There was an ambush last week of soldiers within the vicinity of Talata Mafara forest. That this particular cell used locally made IED or land mines points to a possibility that it’s going to be a very long day in the trenches for both sides.
Another development is the calibre of arms and ammunition, such as the French Famas assault rifle, etc., allegedly sighted in Zamfara, which is not used by the Nigerian military, indicating the growing transnational network between North West
#Nigeria and the #Sahel region.
I have previously reported on the activities of the Ansaru and it’s careful planning to build a strong in Zamfara. No superior intelligence has yet disproved that. Now, there’s new informatn about an IS cell searching for a foothold in the Zamfara/Sokoto axis of the North West.
Meanwhile, the Military arrested the Vice-Chairman of Anka Local Govt and libeled him an informant of the bandits, a claim many in the state that spoke to this reporter disagree with. This official was himself kidnapped by the bandits and later released, a few years back.
His experience and contacts wt some of the bandits remain and has assisted other families in the state to negotiate release of their loved ones. Recently the military will arrest ppl that r in touch or have ever been in touch wt the bandits irrespective of the nature of contact.
Already the hostile Military-host community relations common with the Nigeria Army has reared its head in Zamfara with the arrests and negative profiling of community leaders. Several community leaders and residents that spoke with this reporter frown at these developments.
In the case of the emirs, aside the critical line they have taken, another example was during the days of Buharin Daji, a notorious bandit killed by one of his associate. The govt also took advantage of the relationship between Daji and the Maru emirate for several negotiations.
The Emirate and other emirates were deeply involved in either negotiations for ransom or attempted peace settlement. The military is apparently using these contacts to say the emirs have aided banditry. It is important to mention that most of these bandits have family members.
However reports indicate that several traditional rulers are either involved or aided illegal mining in Zamfara, while the state government, also looked the other way, but many are of the opinion that, mining have little to do with the bloodbath in the Zamfara.
Mai Rakumi, a leading terrorist in Zamfara for example, will call the emir of Anka to threaten him and his emirate before and after an attack. Such calls cannot be rejected, neither can the emirs control who calls them. The best they can do is to appeal for peace.
Despite the military activity that has remarkably succeeded in reducing the number of attacks and abduction over the past weeks, some areas, especially around Gusau and Shinkafi in Zamfara are still experiencing cases of kidnappings. People are still being killed and abducted.
On 18 April, there was heavy gunshots by gunmen in Birnin Magaji town, with several casualties. The bandits proceeded to a nearby village, one Hisba official was killed there. People are now too afraid to report or confirm casualty figures because of ongoing military clampdown.
A few days ago, one Dogo Barti, believed to have over 200 fighters, threatened a community under Gusau, Masha’awo that they will not have peace or farm for the next 7 years. The community is not only displaced, but distraught by the fact that they can’t return to their farms.
Encouraged by the Military deployment, some communities earlier sacked by the armed groups have braved it to return but are not banking on staying once the Military pulls out. Even the members of the vigilantes are just like seating docks without the presence of the Military.
So far, we have not seen body bags or mass arrests of armed groups that may indicate that majority have been eliminated. Sources familiar with the violent activities in region said, the armed groups have simply moved to other locations to be back in no time to wreck more havoc.