Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Massacre: Buhari should declare “full-fledged” war on bandits, Niger governor charges

Mr Bello, who once proposed a soft-landing arrangement for bandits, made this call in a statement on Friday.

• January 15, 2022
Bello and Bandits
A composite photo of Governor of Niger, Abubakar Sani-Bello, and Bandits used to illustrate the story

Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has charged President Muhammadu Buhari to declare “full-fledged” war against bandits. 

“It is now time that full-fledged war should be declared on these unscrupulous elements since they have been proscribed as terrorists,” Mr Bello said. “We cannot just allow these people to continue with this massacre.”

Mr Bello, who once proposed a soft-landing arrangement for bandits, made this call in a statement by his spokesperson Mary Noel-Berje on Friday. 

“We are worried by the nefarious activities of these terrorists, Mr Bello continued, “Desperation has been noticed amongst them as a result of the onslaught of security agents which has made them target unsuspecting rural inhabitants.”

With a land mass of 76,363 square kilometres, the North-Central state is Nigeria’s largest, with swathes of ungoverned spaces occupied by criminals.

Bandits have, in different coordinated attacks, killed and kidnapped hundreds of schoolchildren for ransom in Niger State, forcing statewide school closure at some point. 

Peoples Gazette in October 2021 reported that Boko Haram terrorists have taken over five hundred communities, domiciled in eight political wards in Niger State.

Suleiman Chikuba, the chairman of Shiroro Local Government Area, listed Manta, Gurmana, Bassa-Kokki, Allawa, Kurebe, Kushaka, Kwati and Chukumba, among areas taken over by the insurgents.

However, in November 2021, Nigerian minister of information and culture Lai Mohammed, said bandits who impose taxes on citizens are not different from areas boys who extort people in southern part of the country. 

“The issue is not about bandits collecting taxes. But that’s not the same as saying there is a new caliphate. Do you know how many places in this country where area boys collect taxes and there is no banditry there? Mr Mohammed asked.

“I don’t want to mention names. In many of our cities, they carve out their own territories. So what they are writing is nothing. It is not indicative that the bandits have taken over,” he added.

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