The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, says the lingering banditry in the North-West and North-Central Nigeria has an international undertone.
Mr Adamu said this during a town-hall meeting on peace and security held on Wednesday in Zuru, headquarters of Zuru Local Government Area of Kebbi State.
“We have realised that most of the banditry has an international dimension. The bandits come from outside the country. We arrested Sudanese, Nigeriens and Malians, among other nationals.
“We also believe that because of what is happening in the North-East and the fact that the military troops are doing a great job in the fight against insurgency there, most of the bandits are running toward the North-West of the country and we have evidence.
“When we operated in Kaduna, Birnin Gwari, where we attacked a group of bandits, we realised that most of them came from Islamic State of West Africa, who are terrorists, kidnapping for ransom.
“So, the issue is not at the level you are looking at it. It is a big issue and we must work together to address it.
“This is why President Muhammadu Buhari does not rest because of these complaints coming from the North-West and North-Central on banditry,” the IGP said.
He said he came with a high-powered delegation, comprising the heads of the intelligence community in the country.
“This is because of the seriousness the president attaches to security and the rising security challenges that are happening in the North-West in particular.
“During one of our briefings on security to the president, the issue of insecurity was seriously discussed as it affects the North-West in particular and we saw an emerging trend from Zuru Emirate.
“And the president ordered us to move to Zuru and listen to the stakeholders and come up with a solution on how to bring lasting peace in Zuru Emirate and that’s why we are here.
“The security situation in the North-West, including North-Central, are issues that bordered on kidnapping, banditry and insurgency,” he further said.
Mr Adamu urged every Nigerian to see the fight against insecurity as a collective responsibility.
He, therefore, underscored the need for people to continue to furnish the security agencies with genuine, reliable and intelligent information about suspicious elements in society.
He further said: “When you look at what happened in Zamfara, it used to be the epicentre of banditry.
“When we tried to know the cause of the problem, we identified the cause and we said ok, let us go for (a) solution.
“What fuelled insecurity in terms of banditry in Zamfara is what is fuelling insecurity in Katsina and invariably the same here in Kebbi State.
“When the situation was so bad in Zamfara, we brought all the stakeholders and, in another development, we met with all the governors from the North-West to Katsina.
“A lot was discussed and we realised that Zamfara’s situation was caused by the problem of “Yan Sa Kai.
“This is because there was no control of command of the activities of Yan Sa Kai.
“When we moved to Katsina State we wanted to know what had been fuelling the banditry and reprisal attacks.
“Again, it was the activities of Yan Sa Kai because they organised themselves genuinely to protect their environment, their communities and their families but there was no command of control, so they went out of control and that is what is happening now in Kebbi State.”
Also, the Director-General, State Security Services, Yusuf Magaji-Bichi, appealed to the people of Zuru Emirate to remain calm and peaceful.
“There is no doubt that the people of Zuru are peace-loving, accommodating and determined to achieve results,” Mr Magaji-Bichi said.
According to him, the result in this context is to have peace in Zuru Emirate.
“If we extend this result to security agencies, I think we shall see light at the end of the tunnel, that means peace will reign in this Emirate by the grace of God Almighty.
“On a lighter note, I used to tease the people of Sokoto, especially the elite.
“I will always say nowadays we do not have Sokoto people, the learned are gone, everything of theirs is gone, you only have Zuru people or Zamfara people inside Sokoto township,” Mr Magaji-Bichi said.
He described Zuru people as accommodating and loving, pointing out that people from Kano reside and do business.
Earlier, the President of Miyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Muhammadu Kiruwa, appealed to the security agencies to investigate the extra-judicial killing of 68 Fulani pastoralists in Zuru, Sakaba, Fakai and Dango/Wasagu Local Government Areas under Zuru Emirate.
He alleged that the victims were killed by the Dakarkari “Yan Sa kai” group this year.
“This dastardly act, which started on April 29, continued unabated and no one is being arrested or being held accountable for these killings.
“The first murder took place in broad daylight at the premises of the Technical College, Zuru, where eight Fulani people were killed.
“This trend continued in the communities of Danko, Maga, Ribah, Joli, Kadurga, Marafa, Kanya, Unashi and Ayyu, where 68 people were killed for no just cause other than being Fulani herders.
“This murderous gang is getting bolder and bolder by the day and if care is not taken the crises in these areas might snowball into a larger conflict.
“The silence and in-action of the traditional institution, the local and state government to deal with this lawlessness is capable of escalating insecurity in the North-West Region,” Mr Kiruwa said.
He, however, said that the association had directed its Kebbi chapter to ensure that its members, affected in one way or the other, exercise restraint and allow the law to take its course.
“As a responsible and law-abiding association, we will not allow the situation to deteriorate because we always believe two wrongs do not make a right,” the president said.
In a remark, the Chairman of Yan Sa Kai, Mani Giwa, said that the Zuru people were known for their hospitality and peace-loving attributes.
“What is happening in Zuru today is that some people have taken up arms for the past three years, killing our farmers, destroying their farms and houses, raping, kidnapping and displacing them.
“The lack of media focus might be the reason our voices were not heard until we resorted to self-defence,” he said.
Mr Giwa, who described the emergence of the group as a self-defence group, said they only engage in arresting individuals that had direct or indirect links with criminal gangs.
“We are not fighting against MACBAN members, rather we are fighting criminals who cut across all tribes and cultures within and beyond Zuru emirate.
“We have agreed to handover any arrested suspect to the appropriate authorities and we will monitor the court proceedings to ensure justice,” he said.
He thanked the state government, security agencies and all the traditional rulers for their untiring support and cooperation to Yan Sa Kai.