Apprehension, Outcry as Nigeria Comes Under Siege by Bandits

Apprehension, Outcry as Nigeria Comes Under Siege by Bandits

  • A number of Nigerians including prominent personalities have lamented the gradual takeover of the country by bandits
  • The criminals have continued to attack many communities in Nigeria in spite of the declaration of the federal government as a terrorist group
  • Hundreds of innocent persons have been killed and kidnapped, including schoolchildren, with some still in their custody

In a space of two weeks, Nigeria has come under heavy attacks by bandits who have now launched a renewed attack on the transport sector. Passengers travelling along the Kaduna-Abuja road, rail, and in the air have remained apprehensive over the renewed attacks by the men of the underworld.

What started in the northeast as Boko Haram insurgency has gradually metamorphosed into what authorities now call bandits, building an empire of their operations across most parts of the northwest, including the president’s own state, Katsina. Recently, Kaduna and Niger states have become their hotbed.

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Federal government of Nigeria, Bandits, terrorists
Buhari's government in an effort to end the constant kidnapping for ransom and killing by bandits declared the group a terrorists group. Photo credit: Femi Adesina
Source: Facebook

Recall that it took the Nigerian government several years before it could proscribe the activities of the gun-wielding men of the underworld. Currently, bandits are under the same category as other terrorist organisations operating in Nigeria.

Nigerian govt declares bandits as terrorists

On January 6, 2022, the Nigerian government in an effort towards ending the constant kidnapping for ransom and killing by bandits declared them a terrorist group.

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The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), had on this day gazetted a judgment of the court that ordered the government to officially declare bandits as terrorists.

This was to allow for a decisive security solution to what had started to threaten the nation’s security. The announcement was greeted with jubilation as most Nigerians were glad that the government’s decision came at last.

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Nigerians had earlier raised the alarm at different quarters over the slow action of the government against the dare-devil killers' group.

Bandits increase activities despite proscription

Despite the declaration of bandits as terrorists, more attacks have been recorded in recent times and debates are rife regarding the ability of the nation’s security architecture.

Legit.ng had reported several bandits’ attacks in the country, especially within the Kaduna axis.

Bandits attack FAAN quarters

On March 6, 2021, suspected gunmen attacked a quarter belonging to the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) abducting no fewer than nine persons, including a family of six.

Victims of the abduction included a housewife and her two children who were taken away by the bandits.

The gunmen stormed the quarters through the airport runway and left with their victims without much resistance from the security forces.

Bandits attack Buhari's minister’s home

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Shortly before the above incident, gunmen suspected to be bandits invaded the hometown of Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, the police affairs minister, in the Bodinga local government area of Sokoto state, killing one person and abducting the community’s chief Imam’s daughter-in-law and wife.

Legit.ng had reported that Yusuf Dingyadi, a senior special assistant to Governor Aminu Tambuwal confirmed the incident. Cars, houses, and other properties were razed by the suspected bandits.

Other Kastina communities come under attacks

Similarly, a Premium Times report on February 8, 2022, claimed that 13 people were killed and other residents were abducted by bandits in an attack that took place in three Katsina state communities.

The newspaper reported the three communities under attack to include Guga, Gidan Kanawa, and Dukawa, in Bakori and Funtua local government areas. The affected areas were said to be very close to Kaduna which is currently the centre of bandits’ activities.

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Governor Masari regrets negotiating with bandits

Katsina state, like Kaduna, has been under heavy attacks by bandits. Governor Masari had recently expressed his regrets for engaging the bandits in a failed negotiation, saying they deceived his government into believing that they were Muslims and were willing to end their violent campaign against his state.

Masari vowed never to engage the bandits in any form of negotiation again.

Zamfara under siege by bandits

Like other states in the northwest, Zamfara state has also been constantly attacked by the men of the underworld. On February 18, 2022, bandits stormed Kadaddaba in Anka LGA of Zamfara state, killing at least 18 people while several others were left to battle with various degrees of injuries.

Also in Zamfara state, bandits left at least 30 people dead and abducted several others. The majority of those affected were mostly women. It was a coordinated attack on several communities.

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The communities affected by the attacks were Nasarawar Mai Fara in Tsafe local government area, Yar Katsina in Bungudu local government area and Nasarawa village in Bakura local government area.

Worries over Kaduna airport attack

But the recent attacks on Kaduna airports and the train as well as the expressway have resulted in major concerns by stakeholders who believe that everything is now falling apart with regard to national security.

It would be recalled that armed bandits numbering about 200 attacked the Kaduna international airport, where they shot dead an officer of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).

The gunmen further took over the runway and prevented AZMAN plane from flying out of the airport. The development was a shock to many passengers and politicians who have lamented the increasing cases of bandits’ attacks.

Airlines suspend operation

Following the scary attack on the runway of the Kaduna airport, some airlines operating from that axis suspended operation over the fear of further attacks.

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The first to announce the suspension of its operation was Azman Air Services Limited. The airline announced just after the attack on the runway which forced its plane to remain on the ground, that it had suspended operations into Kaduna for some days due to the attack launched on the airport.

A statement by the airline disclosed that it was to further guarantee the safety of travellers and workers.

Similarly, Air Peace airline announced the suspension of its operation from the Kaduna airport, expressing concern over the attack launched on the airport by suspected bandits.

Air Peace spokesman, Stanley Olisa, confirmed the decision but failed to provide further details.

This came hours after Azman air suspended its operation.

Bandits attack Kaduna-bound train

With the suspension of flight operations by some airlines, Nigerians travelling along the axis were left with the option of using either the rail or the road. But their hope was shortlived as bandits again launched another attack on an Abuja-Kaduna-bound train.

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Legit.ng had reported that a Kaduna-bound train derailed following an explosives attack launched on the rail track. It was reported that the IEDs went off around Katari, Kaduna state, forcing the train to a stop.

According to the report, the 6pm train which took off from Idu train station at the Federal Capital Territory was hit 30 minutes before Rigasa train station in Kaduna.

No fewer than eight persons reportedly lost their lives in the attack. While 25 others were injured, many have been declared abducted by the gun-wielding bandits.

The bandits have since contacted the families of those abducted and are beginning to place their ransoms. But the governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufa’i had vowed not to negotiate any form of ransom payment with the bandits as the state will remain with its earlier policy.

Nigerians, El-Rufai lament bandits’ takeover

Many prominent Nigerians, including the Kaduna state governor, have lamented the gradual takeover of the country by bandits.

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Lamenting the recent train attack, El-Rufai faulted security operatives for not doing enough in terms of intelligence gathering.

According to the Kaduna state governor, the location and the conversations of the bandits are constantly being tracked but the security operatives have done little or nothing to stop planned attacks. This to many is self-indictment as El-Rufai is the chief security officer of his state and a key stakeholder under the Buhari-led government.

Buhari givers marching order against bandits

The Nation reported that President Muhammadu Buhari had said that the attack by terrorists on a train in Kaduna state was a serious security threat, hence instructing the military and other security agencies to commence a serious campaign against bandits.

Buhari in the order instructed the nation’s service chiefs and other heads of security outfits to take a decisive approach in tracking down the bandits.

Kill them, eliminate them

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Insecurity in Nigeria: Bandits attack Zamfara community, kill village head, 19 others

A statement by President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, admitted that Nigeria is at war following the incessant attacks by bandits. According to Adesina, bandits had declared war on the country, and the earlier they are stopped, the better for the country.

He said, no matter what rights activists would want to say, the only option left is to kill and eliminate completely bandits and terrorists championing the constant attacks.

With the marching orders from the Villa, it’s yet to be seen if the men of the underworld will put on hold attacks on facilities and communities around Kaduna and Niger state. While efforts were on to track the bandits responsible for the train attack, more attacks have been recorded on the road and in villages within the axis.

There were rumours in town that the nation’s president was unable to go to the national stadium to support the Super Eagles for fear of insecurity, resulting in too many questions about the nation’s security situation.

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Senate raises alarm

In a previous report by Legit.ng, a motion raised by a Kaduna senator, Uba Sani at plenary last Tuesday, March 28, drew the Senate’s attention to “the continuing attacks on communities and public facilities in Kaduna State.”

In their resolution after expressing varied emotions over the ongoing bandits' attack, mostly characterized by fear, the lawmakers called on the military to, without delay go after the terrorists, bombard them, and ensure peace returns to the transport sector and other areas of concern.

Source: Legit.ng

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