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“I am a Bandit”: The origin of banditry species in Zamfara [pt. 1]


The following report is based on a lecture by a renowned security researcher, Dr. Murtala Ahmed Rufai of the Department of History, Faculty of Arts and Islamic Studies Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, titled “I am a Bandit”.

“I am a Bandit” is a seminar presented by Dr. Ahmed Rufai after a ten year one-on-one interactions with bandits and their commanders in their dens and hideouts.

The research was delivered under the chairmanship of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lawal Suleiman Bilbis.

According to the report, contemporary rural insecurity, otherwise known as rural banditry started in Zamfara around 2011, as a traditional farmer-herder conflict or insignificant rural unrest, changing into full-blown conflict, engulfing most parts of the Northwest.

Multiple factors accounted for the transformation of this conflict. Traditional rulers, politicians, security agencies, gold miners are among the notable actors in the conflict.

Rufai narrated: “The first criminal gang was formed by Kundu, and Buharin Daji.

“It grew from a single cell, mainly in operating in Zamfara in 2011, to over  one hundred and twenty (120) gangs across six states in 2021.

“These gangs are basically associated with mass killing of innocent people, cattle rustling, kidnapping, gender based and sexual violence (GBSV) and other related human rights abuses.

“At the beginning they lived in the woods and mountainous areas, from where they unleashed terror on the rural and urban areas in the states.

“Some of the bandits have become very daring to the extent of operating from their respective villages.

“Approximately, there are over 10,000 armed bandits operating 4 across different parts of Zamfara state.

“These gangs have so far killed over 12,000 people and stole about 250,000 livestock from 5 2011 to 2021.

“About 120 villages destroyed while 50,000 people were either internally displaced or made refugees in the neighbouring Niger Republic.

“Since the outbreak of this violence, several attempts and mechanisms were put in place to arrest the situation, by both the state and non-state actors, but to no avail.

“The intent of this paper is to study the origin, operations and structure of armed groups in Zamfara state.

“It demonstrates with clear evidence the remote and immediate factors that led to the emergence and transformation of the groups and their operational tactics over time.”

To be continued…


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