THE number of armed groups operating across several states in the North Western region of Nigeria could be as much as one thousand, says Ahmad Salkida, a journalist who has vast experience of the insecurity situation in Northern Nigeria.
Salkida made this known in a post titled ‘Zamfara State in the last seven days’ which he shared on his Tweeter handle late Monday. He said over 70 persons were “reportedly killed within the days under review”.
According to Salkida, terrorists have infiltrated the ranks of the so-called bandits operating in Zamfara State and other parts of the North West almost without any challenge from security agencies.
“On Friday, armed bandits invaded a Jumma’a Mosque at Dumama village in Zurmi LG of the state. The killers arrived on motorbikes during the Khutbah (sermon) and opened fire at the worshippers. Over 20 people died and several others sustained serious injuries,” Salkida narrated.
“A detachment of the military and MOPOL (Mobile Police) in the state engaged and killed dozens of the bandits.
“Sources state that the number of armed groups may be as many as thousands operating in small fiefdoms across Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Niger states, and regularly cross to Niger Republic.”
“There were cases of abductions across Zamfara in the course of the week even on election day. One of my most active reporters couldn’t send me updates because his brother was shot. Doctors are battling to save his life at the intensive care unit in the Federal Medical Centre, Gusau.”
Salkida noted that the abductions and killings going on in Zamfara state were being carried out by Ansaru, a breakaway faction of Boko Haram, adding that “investigations point to a growing presence of terrorists working alongside bandits and cattle rustlers”.
Also, Salkida said that the leader of one of the armed groups operating around Shinkafi area of the state is named Haliru but the villagers nicknamed him Mairakumi “because he appears on camel backs while his fighters come in horses and motorbikes”.
“Mairakumi … is believed to be a Buzu, and looks like a Toureq from Niger Republic, light skin and about 7th ft tall. Mairakumi, eerily premeditated in his bloody campaigns across Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina states,” he tweeted.
“Mairakumi’s group is believed to have abducted and holding over 100 captives and he has so far released 30 with ransoms ranging from N500,000 to over N10 Million. The terrorists claimed they attacked Kawaye because the villagers were mostly vigilantes and aid security agencies.
“Investigations revealed that other bandits are increasingly joining the ranks of Mairakumi, but the likes of Dogo, a ruthless bandit may not have joined Mairakumi yet, but the two outlaws and their fighters don’t clash.
“This is the time to act to end the killings in Zamfara.”
Following incessant attacks, abductions and killings in Zamfara State, the Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, said he would not mind if the state was declared a state of emergency by the federal government. The incoming governor of the state, Mukhtar Shehu, whose victory was announced on Monday, already has his work cut out for him.