The Bandits of Zamfara ,By Ali M Ali

gunmen-300x182One life taken in cold blood is as chilling as millions taken in pogrom-Dele Giwa

Look around you. Nigeria’s brand of criminality is ‘democratized’.It takes this format. Let’s begin with the notorious flashpoints. North-east. Here it takes the form of insurgency. A bunch of misguided youth routinely commits arson, murder and sundry crimes in the name of God. Next is South-south. Here, another bunch of self-guided,fortune seeking not so youthful militants have decided to help them to state resources.

Next is Southeast. Here,it is a thriving business of kidnapping and abduction. A well-oiled machine with tentacles in the security services thrived and probably still flourishing years after its infamous leader who went by the nameOsisikankwu was   killed by soldiers sometime in 2010.

And in the Northwest,a band of barefaced bandits is calling the shots.They routinely unleash their brand of ‘democratic dividends’ on a hapless citizenry. This is chilling. In two short years, gangsters in Zamfara state for example, have killed more defenselesstownsfolk than Boko Haram did in one single attack. This is not hyperbolic. Yet ‘nomadic’ governor,Abdul-Aziz Yari, was jumping for joy that his     ‘good’ governance has kept Boko Haram at bay. Our political leaders never cease to amaze me.In ‘the lack of shame’ department, few can equal the brazenness of Yari.In truant leadership,he takes the lead in the whole of Northwest. With little or nothing to show as his mid term score card, he resorted to the delusion of ‘good governance keeping insurgents away’ orchestra. This probably explains why he eagerly told unimpressed state house reporters soon after he led traditional rulers and other public office holders from the state to visit the President, Goodluck Jonathan as his major ‘achievement’.

Zamfara and some parts of Kaduna are on a roll presently.Banditry is gradually becoming a way of life.From 2011 to date, these miscreants have killed nearly 200 people. In August 2011,these outlaws went fro house to house searching for   members of the vigilante groups in some villages under Dansadau Emirate. Ten persons were reportedly killed in the attack.

The criminals were said to be on a revenge mission after some of them were said to have been extra-judicially executed by members of the local vigilante groups mobilized by the people of Dansadau and environs to halt incessant robbery cases.

Emboldened they returned to what has become to them conquered territory, in October of that same year and killed 23 persons and injured many others in the same village; they made away safely.

January 2012:  Not less than 15 traders were ambushed and killed, their corpses burnt in Birnin Magaji Local Government Area of Zamfara State, allegedly by the same gang.

June 2012: The same gang returned to Dansadau; they went from house to house, killing the residents and setting their houses ablaze unchallenged for hours by security agencies. 27 residents were killed in that orgy of bloodbath

July 2012:  Armed robbers said to number about 50 invaded some two villages in Chikun LGA of Kaduna State, looting and killing 11 persons.

October, 2012:  Dogon Dawa was thrown into mourning as 24 people lay dead after a rescue mission by armed robbers to free some of their arrested comrades in crime.

Last Tuesday the robbers returned with greater vengeance. In a dare devil operation that lasted for more than five hours, the bandits killed at will sparing no one, unrestrained by age or gender. The people of Kizara village may have heard of nightmare but were stranger to it. Now they now what it is. It is criminals riding motorcycles and raining bullets.

Like the previous attacks, this last one was a revenge attack on vigilante groups.

I shudder to think that Yari still thinks that he is doing ‘good’ governance in his troubled state. Unless there is a different Zamfara from the one these miscreants are kings, the governor and his government should really tackle this menace headlong.Unlike the Boko Haram menace,the Zamfara killings are the handiwork of common criminals driven solely by profits.

From the dawn of time, criminals have always dared the state and they almost always and invariably get crushed. They are not ideologues. They are simply attracted by the ease with which they could make money from the villages and villagers in those areas. The   state government under Yari should, as a first step, take full responsibility of protecting the citizens and not pass the buck. The security agencies, on their part, should intensify intelligence gathering. They must protect and keep the identity of informants, asecret. Otherwise, these robbers may turn out worse than the confused ideologues pretending to wage a crusade against infidels.

Bayero Golden Jubilee

Last week, the venerated emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, celebrated a milestone. He clocked 50 years on the throne. It was remarkable. I recall the very first time I interviewed the monarch some 20 years ago. I was the news editor of the state run Triumph in 1993,and hot headed. The emir had just clocked 30 years on the throne and had welcomed us, the Triumph team which I led to his palace. Looking back now, some of the questions I asked the emir were quiet provocative and he answered them forthrightly with an amused tinge in his eyes. I pointedly asked the emir how many kids he had at the time. My colleagues in the team stared at me disapprovingly, but the emir answered by saying “All the people are our children”

At the end of the session we collectively prayed for the emir wishing him long healthy life. And I asked that I hope to return to the palace when he clocked 50 years on the throne for another interview session.

Late last year the emir received the management of this newspaper, which I was privilegedto lead ahead of the official opening of our Kano office. Again the emir was his usual warm self. I also reminded him have the encounter 19 years earlier and the quest for an exclusive interview when he marks 50 years on the throne. Despite his advanced age and the vagaries of life, the emir has held himself with stoically and dignified.

The Monarch has been the face of stability in the otherwise topsy-turvy politics of Kano. My generation has not known any ruler with such profound influence in the last half a century than Bayero. Allah ya JA zamanin Sarki!


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