DOZENS of so-called repentant bandits in Zamfara State have gone on the rampage in Zamfara State invading Kwanar Mayanci community in Maru Local Government Area and carted away food and petrol.
Over about the last year, bandits have run riot in Zamfara State, constantly terrorising the towns of Tsafe, Danjibga, Yan doto, Yan waren Daji, Kwarin Ganuwa and Keta. Local people have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to do everything within his powers to curtail the activities of the bandits who have been kidnapping, raping women, looting and killing innocent people across Zamfara State.
Last year, the then state governor Abdulaziz Yari offered to pay N1m ($2,750) for every AK47 Kalashnikov rifle handed in as part of a desperate attempt to mop up the large number of illegal firearms in circulation across the state. Like many of Nigeria’s states, Zamfara is awash with weapons and of late, the state has been the centre of some very brutal violence involving Fulani cattle herdsmen and local farmers.
In May this year, Zamfara local government officials confirmed that they regularly make cash payments to bandits as part of a programme to get them to stop killing innocent civilians because the security agencies cannot cope with the menace. However, despite all these measures, the killings go on unabated and this year, the state government offered an amnesty programme under which arrested bandits would be released in exchange for the freeing of kidnap victims.
This August, on a bid to end the violence once and for all, Governor Bello Matawalle invited the Fulani people and the repentant bandits for a festival in fulfilment of the peace agreement and reconciliation. His Sharo Fulani festival, which will be a yearly event, was organised at the end of the Eid-el-Kabir and was last held eight years ago before this year’s event.
Yesterday, however, things went sour again as there was a serious tension in Kwanar Mayanci after a large number of gunmen who came on motorcycles invaded the community. According to eyewitness’ accounts, the villagers immediately began to run away, thinking that they were Boko Haram elements ready to strike.
One local resident named as Ibrahim Sani, said that the bandits made away with many food items and some jerry cans containing petrol, which belonged to roadside vendors. He noted that the heavily armed men mostly youths, told villagers not to be afraid as they were not there to kill any of them.
Apparently, the leader of the bandits gave out the sum of N20,000 to the villagers and asked those whose valuables were carried away by his boys to share it as compensation. During the raid, the hoodlums occupied the Gusau-Sokoto road for over half an hour before they zoomed away on their motorcycles towards the forest.
Alhaji Abubakar Dauran, Governor Matawalle’s spokesman, said that the gunmen were repentant bandits moving out of the state. This was confirmed by, Muhammad Shehu, the spokesman for the Zamfara State Police Command who revealed that the gunmen were moving to Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State.