FORMER Senator representing Kaduna Senatorial District Shehu Sani has said not less than five notable terrorist groups are currently operating in northern Nigeria, despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge to end insecurity.
Sani, who was a governorship aspirant under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna State, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with The ICIR in Kaduna.
He noted that insecurity has worsened under Buhari’s administration.
According to him, despite the promise made by the President to end insecurity, the northern states are being ravaged by different terror groups.
“What we need to understand is that the terrorists operating in the north-western part of Nigeria are not of a single organisation with a leader, they are diverse. We have the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), the Boko Haram, the Darul Islam, the Ansaru and the bandits.
“At least there are five notable terror groups operating in northern part of Nigeria. Now, the bandits also have different leaders located in different states, you have their leaders like Bello Turji, like Manjagara, like Baleri, and they have mapped out territories for themselves between Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states,” Sani said.
He added that the bandits sometimes clash with other terror groups over territories.
Speaking on the attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train, Shehu Sani told The ICIR that the train was first attacked in October 2021.
According to him, a terror group attacked the train by planting an improvised explosive device (IED) on the rail but luckily the train was not derailed when it ran over it.
“The attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train started sometime last October. I happened to be a passenger on the train at that time and I raised an alarm that the train was attacked.
“At that time what they did was to plant an improvised explosive device and the train ran over it but luckily for us the train did not stop. “
He blamed the government for not taking action since the first attack.
The lack of action by government emboldened the bandits, Sani noted.
“At a time they only attacked passengers who are plying the Abuja-Kaduna road or the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari road or the Zaria-Funtua road or the ones in Zamfara State or Katsina State, but having seen that many of the VIPs have decided to use the airlines so they are only dealing with people whom they are not going to get much from, they moved away or not away completely from attacking passengers on the road to now launching direct attacks on towns and cities.”
Sani expressed concern that villagers in Kaduna State are being impoverished by heavy taxes and fines imposed by bandits.
“In Kaduna, almost all the settlements on the outskirts of the city are constantly under direct attack by these bandits and terrorists. They also evolved to a point where they impose fines and taxes on villages. At a certain point in Birnin Gwari local government, villagers have to gather as much as N40 million to give to these terrorists for them to be able to go to their farms and plant their crops and also they have to pay the same amount to harvest their crops.
“They have succeeded in impoverishing a large number of our population apart from destroying smaller villages within the expanse of Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states,” he said.
Sani said Nigeria is at war.
According to him, terrorists from other countries are coming to fight in Nigeria.
“Nigeria is at war with terror groups and insurgents and bandits and we must find solutions to these because apart from our own home grown terror groups, it appears that the terror groups are also inviting other fighters and terrorist from other parts of West Africa and Central Africa to come into Nigeria. And because there is a systemic failure on the side of the government, they are becoming more audacious.”
Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M