Banditry And Its Connection To Boko Haram Insurgency

When Boko Haram faction leader Abubakar Shekau affirmed the responsibility for the abduction of over 300 school boys in Kankara, Katsina State in December 2020, then did it dawn on Nigerians these two seemingly separate groups – bandits and insurgents – may have a connection, although Lai Mohammed said Shekau is only looking for relevance. Over the past decade, Boko Haram militants have been most active in North-east, predominantly in Borno and neighbouring states kidnapping, killing, destroying properties, displacing people and ruining villages, above all, disrupting the peace, tranquility and security of the nation.
Starting out from a school in Chibok, Borno State, where hundreds of girls were abducted by the terrorist group in 2014 and many remain missing till today – 7 years later -, to another mass kidnapping of schoolchildren in Dapchi, Yobe in 2018, there have been fears over the group’s growing regional influence. The group at first said it was against Western Education in the North as it was ‘robbing the North of its tradition and culture’ but upon the death of its first leader, the vision of the group blurred into an undefined one and became more notorious.Banditry And Its Connection To Boko Haram Insurgency
In 2011, organised Fulani raids began on Hausa villages in an escalation of what had been more localised conflicts and supposed self-defence. Farmers and herders had conflicts in their fields which intensified into cattle rustling, kidnapping for ransom, sexual violence and killings between 2017 and 2018. As these actions continued, the name bandits became the tag for the peace and security disrupting group. These bandits are one of the scores of armed gangs that have killed, raped, and plundered across the Northwest, forcing more than 200,000 people from their homes. Their actions have affected populations living in Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto, Kebbi and Katsina States and the bout 21 million people living in these States have been exposed to insecurity. While Boko Haram is launching its attacks and expending territories in the NorthEast, bandits are taking over the NorthWest and Central.
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The Institute for Security Studies (ISS)’s Regional Office for West Africa, the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin, Malik Samuel, said an ongoing research he is conducting for the institute shows that not only did JAS (an insurgency sect characterised by the use of more violent methods and continues to perpetrate systematic attacks against both Muslims and Christians) participate in the abduction, but the link between the group and bandits pre-dated the incident. Noting that the Book Haram’s interest in the North-west especially can be traced to a 2014 internal ‘Message to Fulanis’ video where Shekau was seen expressing gratitude to fighters in Katsina State and other unspecified locations, the ISS said there are numerous reasons for Shekau’s forays into the North-west and North-central areas. These include the desire to create an Islamic state that goes beyond the North-east, recruitment and financial gains from ransom payments and other activities like illegal gold mining.Banditry And Its Connection To Boko Haram InsurgencySpeaking about gold mining, an anonymous soldier had taken to Twitter to say that when the Zamfara State Government under the leadership of a former Governor knew the  Goodluck Jonathan administration got wind of the illegal act and tried to put a measure on it, a perfect plan was drawn to bring in foreign business under the disguise of helping the State while the activities continue underground. These activities of illegal miners competing for the control of gold reserves have served to further intensify the existence and activities of armed groups in the Northwest – everyone wants to have a stake.
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Another major reason the bandits are springing forth in North-West States, according to the ISS’ research is to create a diversion, stoking security threats elsewhere to remove or reduce security forces’ pressure on the North-east, particularly Sambisa Forest, thereby giving Shekau some breathing space from the military operations at his Sambisa base. The ISS research shows that a group of former Boko Haram members led by Adam Bitri – a pioneer member of the group and close friend of late founder Mohammed Yusuf and Shekau – was crucial in the alliance between bandits and JAS.Banditry And Its Connection To Boko Haram Insurgency
The ISS also said its research shows that a group of former Boko Haram members led by Adam Bitri – a pioneer member of the group and close friend of late founder Mohammed Yusuf and Shekau – was crucial in the alliance between bandits and JAS. As more of the plans surface, some communities have been accused of working with these groups, feeding them with information and carrying out their tasks. For some of these communities, working with violent extremist and criminal groups is about survival and safety. Majority of these communities do not feel the presence of government, especially in the area of safety and protection which allows criminal groups to step in and take advantage by entering into social contracts with communities – not that these communities have any choice.
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All of the actions of the groups are majorly suffered not by the Government officials but the masses and innocent residents of the areas. By March 2020, more than 210,000 people have been internally displaced. More than 35,000 refugees have crossed communal borders to Maradi in Niger Republic by the beginning of March 2020. In addition to displacement, the violence has hampered agricultural activities and heightened the risk of acute food insecurity. Livelihoods have been disrupted, fear and insecurity among the population have increased, and IDPs and host communities are competing for scarce resources such as water, land and food. The activities of the bandits in the region are creating a wide gap in education between the North and South.Banditry And Its Connection To Boko Haram Insurgency
Banditry has claimed the lives of many teachers. It is estimated that about 4.7 million children of primary school age are still not in school. Parents prevented their children from attending schools due to insecurity on major roads. Even when children are enrolled in schools, many do not complete the primary cycle. A current data shows that 30 percent of pupils drop out of primary school. A lot of schools in these areas have been shut down and the few that are still existing are unable to operate properly for fear of kidnap of students or attacks and killing by bandits.
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Over the last few years, a lot of school children have been kidnapped from their schools and while some have been returned to their parent(s), others are still stuck in their kidnappers’ den. In the North-East, a high level of illiteracy is being recorded as these students have now lost access to formal education, not to mention the economic effect on the nation, poverty level and the psychological effects of the activities on the residents of the areas. More than anything else, the Government really needs to find a solution to insecurity in the nation.TRENDING VIDEO OF THE DAY: Baba Ijesha’s Saga: Iyabo Ojo Drags Yomi FabiyiPhotos Credit: Getty
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