Service Chiefs General Lucky Irabor and Faruk Yahaya
Service Chiefs General Lucky Irabor and Faruk Yahaya

Bandits’ Leaders: Turji, Sububu Still Calling the Shots in Zamfara Forest- Report

A new report has debunked recent pictures and videos circulated on social media platforms suggesting that notorious bandits’ leaders including Turji and Sububu were captured while scores of other bandits were killed.

A report by Daily Trust disclosed that top bandits’ leaders are alive and still roaming their areas of responsibility while the Nigerian military is not performing to the expectations.

The report also stated that non-military measures put in place to strangulate activities of bandits in Zamfara and neighbouring states are paying off as the menacing gunmen scamper for fuel and other logistics,

Three different sources confirmed nothing has happened to Turji.

“Turji is hale. Nothing has happened to him,” Halilu Sububu, Turji’s ex-boss turned rival, told Daily Trust reporter.

Two other sources who craved anonymity said Turji was alive and with his gang.

“He has been wandering in the bush,” one of the sources said.

Like Turji, many other bandits, including Halilu are said to be roaming around villages along Zamfara’s boundaries with Sokoto, Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger and Katsina states.

On Friday, marauding bandits attacks communities in Tureta Local Government of Sokoto State and abducted several persons after killing six and maiming many.

A source attributed the attack to Halilu Sububu’s gang which, like Turji’s has reportedly moved into Sokoto State.

States worst hit by rural banditry—Zamfara, Katsina, Niger and Kaduna—had last week proclaimed executive orders banning the sale of fuel in jerry cans, suspension of cattle trade and, in some places, weekly markets, among other measures.

The measures, according to the state governments, were designed to cut down the lifeline of the bandits who transact in cattle and use a large number of motorcycles to move within the forested areas of the states to carry out criminal activities.

In addition to these measures, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) last weekend announced a two-week cut in the telecommunications network in Zamfara State, following a request by the state government.

The cut in telecommunications, fuel supply and source of food and other logistics to the bandits is said to be taking a toll on them, sources with knowledge of the situation told this newspaper.

The disruption of the telecom network in Zamfara, according to authorities, was to support a major security operation to “crush” the bandits.

In addition to Zamfara State, local governments neighbouring the state in Katsina and Sokoto are also affected by the telecoms shut down.

But while the gunmen are being asphyxiated by the non-kinetic measures, there are concerns that there was no “serious military operation” to decimate the ranks of the bandits, as expected.

Multiple sources who spoke to Daily Trust confirmed that nothing much was being done by the military in the forests of Zamfara to rout out the bandits.

“The impact we expected has not been recorded. The reported successes are being exaggerated. In fact, this is making our jobs difficult because when false victory is recorded it makes the government relax when the problem is not yet addressed,” a source with knowledge of the situation told our reporter during the week.

But in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, the Director Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Benjamin Sawyerr, said troops should be allowed to finish the operations before commenting.

“Let me tell you, we don’t discuss operation when it is going on. What I mean is that we don’t discuss operation in the middle of an operation. As you can see, the military is recording successes,’’ he said.

The senior military officer said that talking about operations while it was ongoing could jeopardise the successes being recorded which was not ideal for the country.

Some of the bandits at Dansadau forest were said to have abandoned their motorcycles after they ran out of fuel.
A source in Zamfara, Yusuf Mohammed, told Daily Trust that some of the bandits around Tsafe had set free captives in their custody as they could not feed them, nor be able to communicate with their relatives.

Multiple sources spoken to by our reporter expressed disappointment at the failure to have an all-out military operation while the siege was on.

A security source confided in Daily Trust that the Zamfara operation was not well coordinated at the top, which explained the lack of sustained and strategic action.

He said the jamming of the telecommunication network was not approved by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), which ought to analyse the import of the action and vet the action plan.

The army and other organs of the military were yet to make any formal briefing on the new anti-banditry push, aside from unofficial claims and rumours.

But a source told Daily Trust that some stray bandits were killed at the outskirts of Dumburum forest of Zurmi Local Government on Monday. A fleeing company of bandits also had an encounter with troops on Thursday though no details of the clash were obtained.

SOURCE: Daily Trust