Nigeria’s NorthWest is gradually becoming another major theater of violence, much like the northeast where Boko Haram terrorists have wreaked havoc in the past ten years. A crisis that took the form of localized disputes between herders and farmers over claims to land metamorphosed into an intractable crisis posing a major threat to regional and national security. Banditry in the rural areas of northwest Nigeria had escalated between 2014 and 2019, attracting a lot of neglected attention from state and the federal government. This has resulted in rural-urban migration, displacement, and death.
In Zamfara and part of neighboring Katsina state in the NorthWest, ramping gangs of armed bandits have engaged in violent acts, attacking, abducting, killing and robbing villagers and travelers as well as engaging in cattle rustling. Evidently, the casualty figures of these attacks are usually underestimated by the government to allay the fears of the masses without taking futuristic steps to solve these problems. Reports have shown that about five hundred villages and thirteen thousand hectares of land have been devastated and two thousand eight hundred and thirty-five people have been killed between 2011 and 2018. It is equally estimated that there are at least ten thousand armed bandits and cattle rustlers operating out of eight major camps in Zamfara State. Furthermore, some reports put the number of children orphaned as a result of such attacks at forty-four thousand since 2010.
The vast landmass and forests that circled Zamfara State had made the state susceptible to banditry attacks on outlying towns, villages and highways without the presence of the government. The Rugu, Kamara, Kunduma and Sububu forests have become a major hideout for criminals, this is necessitated by the defenseless rural villages with little or no security where the bandits come out freely in the broad day to carry out their heinous crimes without any atom of fear. The security operatives and the police are equally culpable in the protection of lives and property. Allegations have made by residents regarding bribing and conniving escapades of the local security and police force with the bandits. That is why the police have not been able to arrest and bring the bandits to justice.
In the NorthWest, the bandits are so brazen that they notify villages ahead of attacks and further impose tolls on farmers seeking to gain access to their farms. The irony still remains that despite the huge amount of money invested in military and security operations, the security situations in Nigeria is still deteriorating.
The question still remains, what has the government done to curb the issue of banditry? Is the government capable of solving this problem? For how long will the issue of banditry last? Where the funds allocated for security operation in the northwest do go? It quintessential to know that the northwest banditry has strong support from the political echelons of the country, those who see the problem as profits and divert huge amounts of money meant for security operatives to foreign accounts to the detriment of the citizenry. Therefore one can say that banditry in the northwest is a source of livelihood, a carefully planned embezzlement system or a religious incursion and invasion. Despite efforts by scholars to identify the cause of banditry, the remote cause of banditry in the NorthWest remain at large