Nigeria’s North West has been plagued by years of imperilment ranging from cattle rustling, clashes between herders and farmers, attacks by heavily-armed robbers on highways, kidnapping as well as religious, political and communal conflicts.
The series of devastation and renewed attacks on innocent civilians in the name of banditry have left many people, not even the security agencies on the front to come to grips with the reality of the situation as to weather the heinous act being perpetrated in the region is banditry-related or Jihadits’ occupation.
Lives are been lost on almost daily basis and people live in tension with agonising uncertainty due to constant onslaught. People live in terror; many villages, especially in Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states were reduced to ashes by terrorists and this poses a serious threat to that zone and if the right thing is not done, it may become yet another epicenter of terrorism in the Sahel.
As it was rightly established that man can’t shoot what he is not seeing, neither can he fight an enemy and succeed without understanding the essence, motives and ideological root of the crime. This is to say that there’s a dire need for security agencies to fully understand whether the violent killings being carried out in Nigeria’s North West region were by bandits with financially driven motives or by jihadists with a politically driven motives to establish an Islamic state.
In May, the representative of Sokoto East Senatorial District in the Senate, Ibrahim Gobir, has claimed some parts of his constituency are under the control of bandits, adding that the biggest problem is that the bandits have taken over many villages and are having a field day.
He said they have constituted themselves as judges and sacked traditional and political institutions.
The question here is why bandits sacked and appointed judges without political motives? The Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organisation has fragmented into different units in order to improve their chances of carrying out attacks without being detected by the security agencies.
The group seems to be making a comeback under the guise of bandits, forging tighter relationship with other criminal gangs and continue to carry out attacks in the region while our security agencies are being lured into believing that they are engaging with bandits and therefore, maintaining the same security architecture, engagement and neutralising bandits.
The situation, if left unchecked, will worsen the security situation in northern Nigeria in its entirety. The Nigerian state is strongly advised to check the resurgence of terrorism in the North West and its strategy towards the war on terror. This is necessary because banditry and violent extremism are quite different; the former has political inclination while the latter can be carry out for financial gain.
Rabiu Musa, Kano.
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