THE SECRETARY to the Niger State Government Ahmad Matane said bandits operating in the state and other parts of the country are collecting ransoms to purchase more weapons.
Matane said this on Thursday when he appeared on Sunrise Daily to speak about security challenges in the state.
“Banditry has become an enterprise, making millions from the abduction of victims. They use a lot of the money to buy more weapons and that reinforces and strengthens their capability to continue what they are doing,” Matane said.
He noted that the economic gains in banditry will make it difficult for the government and security agencies to put an end to the problem.
“There are a lot of economic gains in banditry. Because of that, it will be difficult to cut it off because it has become an enterprise. It is not only the locals that are bandits. They hire mercenaries from outside the country to carry out the activity and they are paid off as mercenaries and they go back,” the SSG said.
The ICIR had reported that in 2021, at least N1 billion naira was reportedly paid to kidnappers as ransom in the North-West and North-Central regions of Nigeria
Matane further said that most of the banditry in Niger State revolves around Zamfara State.
Speaking on the use of dialogue to end banditry, Matane said the government has met with ‘bandit leaders’ but the bandits were not accurate with their demands.
He noted that the bandits cited lack of formal education, access to schools and healthcare as some of their reasons for taking up arms.
“They kept saying that they had been neglected for a very long time, they had lost their cattle, they have no western education, they have limited access to schools, healthcare and many more.
“But we said that was no excuse to take up arms against the government and the communities,” Matane noted.
In 2021, The ICIR reported that terrorists operating in Niger State kidnapped 38 residents of Kagara town, including women and children.
The terrorists demanded a N15 million ransom from the families of the kidnapped persons.
Earlier in January, the Nigeria government reluctantly declared the bandits as terrorists after initially ignoring calls to do so.
The terrorists have been responsible for the abduction of local commuters, death of schoolchildren, among other criminal activities.