NIGERIAN government officials have been warned by the leaders of armed bandit militia groups that they risk another major insurgency similar to the Boko Haram uprising if they are also under-estimated.
Over recent years, heavily-armed bandits have been terrorising the northwest geo-political zone, controlling large swathes of territory, particularly in Zamfara and Katsina states. Powerless to stop them, state governors have been forced to enter into dialogue with these bandits and even offer them money to lay down their arms.
So far, however, every agreement entered into has broken down, leaving several states at the mercy of bandits who attack villages and towns with impunity. In a bit to resolve the crisis, Islamic Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, travelled from his base in Kaduna to Zamfara State yesterday to meet with the bandits.
At the meeting which held in Makkai Forest, the bandits told Sheikh Gumi that the Nigerian and Zamfara State authorities had failed to fulfil their promises. They warned that if the government does not honour its pledges, they will step up their actions, which will have dire consequences.
Bandit leader Kachalla Turji, said: “This is how Boko Haram started. Nigeria has underestimated us and the problem.”
Among those present at the meeting were another bandit leader Kachalla Muhammadu Bello, several Islamic clerics and several foot soldiers. Mr Turji, who controls the Shinkafi/Sokoto Road in Zamfara State, said his fighters were not afraid of death and expressed anger that the Fulani were usually attacked by indigenes of Zamfara State and elsewhere.
Mr Turji hinted that the problem may linger except dialogue is entered into, boasting about the volume of weapons they had, with which they could bring Zamfara State to its knees. Trained by the late Buharin Daji, Mr Turji added that if he is killed, there are hundreds of other fighters capable of replacing him.