TERRORIST kingpin, Ada Aleru, who the head of a town in Zamfara State recently crowned the Sarkin Fulani Yandoton Daji Emirate (the head of the Fulani in Yandoton Daji) says he does not kidnap people but kills them.
Aleru reveals this in a BBC Africa Eye documentary titled ‘The Bandit Warlords of Zamfara’, billed to be aired on Monday, July 25, 2022.
“My men do that; I just go and kill them (people),” the terrorist says.
The coronation of Aleru, the leading terrorist in the Tsafe and Faskari axis of Zamfara and Katsina states, generated public outcry across the country.
An unnamed associate of the terrorist in the documentary says the terrorists were aggrieved because the Fulani were being excluded from the national polity.
“The Fulani are systematically excluded from government jobs and other economic opportunities, and the Nigerian air force attacks innocent Fulani herders and kills their cattle.
“How have the Fulani become so worthless in Nigeria?” he asks.
The Zamfara State government has suspended the Emir of Yandoton Daji, Aliyu Marafa, who conferred the title on Aleru, who himself has been declared wanted in neighbouring Katsina State for mass killings.
The Katsina government placed a bounty of N5 million on information leading to the arrest of Aleru, accused of killing 52 people in Kadisau, a community in Faskari Local Government, in 2019.
In his first and only known interview with the media, Aleru tells the BBC that he was angry with the Hausa people and the Nigerian government.
He laments that the grazing routes the Fulani relied on had been closed off, while land and water for their herds had become very scarce.
The BBC Africa Eye interviewed terrorists who had abducted pupils from the Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Talata Mafara, a local government area of Zamfara State.
While the state government insists that no ransom was paid, the unnamed bandit says they were paid N60 million before they released the pupils.
When asked what they did with the money, he replies, “We bought more rifles.”
Distressing scenes, including that of a boy dying from a gunshot wound, are shown in the documentary.
“I remember how he raised his head to look at me while in that condition,” the boy’s father tells the BBC. “It pains me how much my boy suffered…I am devastated.”
The BBC gathered that the teenage boy, whose sister was among the abducted Jangebe school girls, was killed by security forces.
Part of the findings by the documentary team is the growing bitterness against the Fulani community by the Hausa community, which is evident in the encounter between the team and residents of Kurfar Danya.
“If allowed, we will kill every Fulani man, even in the town,” says one of the vigilantes, “because they killed our mothers, our fathers, our children, and dumped their bodies here.”
In another scene, a resident is seen protesting the killing of over 200 people by the terrorists.
Residents took the reporter to sites of mass graves. The documentary further confirms that the violence in the region is largely aggravated by vengeance rather than protection.
The vigilante groups are largely residents of Hausa communities.
“Many Nigerians are, quite rightly, disturbed by the idea that the violence contains elements of an ethnic conflict. But that is the inescapable conclusion from listening to the voices in this film,” the BBC had said in a statement announcing the documentary’s release.
Hassan Dantawaye, a terrorist among the first Fulani men to bring guns into Zamfara and take up arms at the head of a terror gang, says it’s a tribal conflict.
“If not, how can someone pass settlements but burn down only the Fulani ones? Why would a Fulani kill an innocent Hausa? It’s a tribal conflict,” he says.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.