Although insecurity in Nigeria is often associated with Boko Haram’s violence in the country’s northeast, banditry in the country’s
northwest is an increasing concern. In one notable case, for example, Nigeria’s popular publication Vanguard, reported on 21 December 2020 about bandits who kidnapped more than 300 schoolboys. The bandits claimed the operation in the name of Boko Haram, whose leader, Abubakar Shekau, released the hostage video of the boys before the bandits exchanged the boys for an unspecified ransom. However, the excerpted 4 February article in another mainstream Nigerian publication, Dailypost.ng, detailed efforts to reconcile with northwestern Nigerian bandit leaders, which provides reason for optimism but also reveals indications of threats ahead.
The article notes that bandit leaders met with Nigerian Islamic clerics and told the clerics that the Nigerian government was underestimating the bandits’ strength. One of the bandit leaders, Kachalla Turji, noted that the government once believed Boko
Haram was finished only to see the group become stronger than ever before. Turji, who is from Zamfara State, meanwhile, also accused the government of failing to protect Fulanis in Zamfara and neighboring states from other ethnic groups during disputes over cattle herding and land use.
At the same time, Turji stated that the only hope for peace was continued dialogue with the bandits. If that dialogue fails, however, Turji warned the bandit groups have large stashes of weapons that they are willing to use against the government. Another reason to be concerned about Turji is that he claimed to have been trained by Buharin Daji, who, according to a 9 November 2018 premiumtimes.ng article, terrorized northwestern Nigeria more than any other bandit leader. Finally, Turji threatened that if he is killed, then other bandits would replace him just as he replaced Buharin Daji upon Daji’s death.
This is how Boko Haram started; Nigeria has underestimated us and the problem.
Source: We were told to say Boko Haram kidnapped us—Released Kankara schoolboy,” Vanguard (centrist albeit Southern Nigerian perspective, Nigerian and international stories and perspectives, strong on politics and security), 21 December 2020. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/12/they-told-us-to-say-boko-haram-kidnapped-us-says-released-kankara-schoolboy/
Source: “‘This is how Boko Haram started’ – Bandit leaders dare Nigerian authorities,” Dailypost.ng (fairly centrist but southern Nigerian perspective, covers Nigerian affairs exclusively, breaking news/sensational), 4 February 2021. https://dailypost.ng/2021/02/04/this-is-howboko-haram-started-bandit-leaders-dare-nigerian-authorities/
Source: “Notorious bandit, Buharin Daji, terrorising Zamfara killed ,” Premiumtimes.ng (based in the capital, considered centrist, but not a “northern” Nigerian perspective, leans to pro-democracy and human rights focus), 9 March 2018. https://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/nwest/261302-notorious-bandit-buharin-daji-terrorising-zamfara-killed%E2%80%8E-officials.html
Bandit leaders in Nigeria have accused the federal and state governments of underrating them. “This is how Boko Haram started; Nigeria has underestimated us and the problem,” one of them, Kachalla Turji, said at a meeting with Islamic clerics.
In attendance were other Islamic clerics, another bandit leader, Kachalla Muhammadu Bello, and several foot soldiers. In his remarks, Turji, who controls Shinkafi/Sokoto Road in Zamfara State, said Nigerian and Zamfara authorities failed to fulfil their promises. Declaring that the fighters were not afraid of death, he expressed anger that Fulani were usually attacked by indigenes of Zamfara and elsewhere.
Turji hinted that the problem may linger except dialogue. He boasted about the volume of weapons they had and suggested gangs could bring the state to its knees. The bandit head, trained by late Buharin Daji, added that if he is killed, there would be hundreds of other fighters capable of replacing him.