Banditry In The North: The Hidden Truth You Were Not Told.| Abuja Network News

By Mohammed Bello Doka. 
North West in particular and Northern Nigeria in general have become a killing zone courtesy of a rampaging hordes of bandits ranging from the fertile plains of Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi Niger, Benue and Nasarawa States leaving blood, sorrow and blood in its wake.

Gradually this tragic incidence have encroached to other parts of the country which were hitherto peaceful. 

I have come across many reports, papers, and writings by scholars who have either neglected the major cause of the crises or are ignorant of the basic causes of the said crises. 

Before delving into the causes of the crises it is important to note three important key points neglected by most of the research and reports I've come across by both the academics, security agencies, traditional rulers, clergy, and the media. 

There are three major players and other supporting actors in the crises.

1. Established or traditional Thieves. 
Zamfara state is the only state in Nigeria that has villages solely belonging to thieves. A whole village of thieves, everyone, and everybody in the village is a thief from the traditional ruler, the imam, the town carrier are all thieves. Some of these villages include but not limited to "Kagaran barayi, Tamusqe, Shamushalle etc. 

These villager thieves have their system, their laws, their values and tradition they even have their entertainers. Prominent among those entertainers are the late" Gambu Mijin Kulu" a musician that only sing for thieves. Gambu is widely known in Northern Nigeria and beyond and enjoys a celebrity status in his days, he enjoys the patronage of the high and mighty in the North either from fear, protection or show off. 

2. The Lauri Cult. 

The Yan Tauri are can only be described as a cult due to their use of charms, traditional worship and rituals that in some cases include human sacrifice, bloodbath, and bravery. 

The Tauri are not thieves, they don't steal and take so much pride in what they do. They are immune to most of the known traditional arms of warfare, swords, knives, sticks etc. and in some cases even guns. 

Yan Tauri are mostly used as security guards by the traditional rulers, the rich and in government institutions. Due to their occupation as guards, they are mortal enemies with the thieves and have a history of enmity that spans generations. It is important to also note that the Yan Tauri have occasional clashes with the Fulani's because they are often paid by farmers to secure their farms against the Fulani invading flocks. 

3. The Fulani's, the Fulani's are traditional cattle and animal rearers who have lost their grazing lands called “Burtali” due to encroachment by farmers. This particular section of the bush, typically near river or lake banks, is not only fertile but has abundant supply of water sources was reserved for the Fulani's for their grazing without wandering into the farmers' lands, which are mostly Hausa. 

But gradually, the farmers, with the active connivance of the traditional leaders and regularly with support of constituted authorities have encroached on this land and have added the same to their lands. The Fulani's feel cheated and betrayed, left with very little option to resort to sending their cows into the farms as a form of vengeance.

Please note that the Hausa's who are predominantly farmers, do play some role also in the conflict between those warring parties. 

Conflict and clash of interest. 

The thieves, Fulani's, Yan tauri and the Hausa's lived together continuously for as long as history can remember. Both having their own different mode and way of life, the Hausa's as farmers, the Fulani as herders, the Yan tauri mainly as guards and the thieves as parasites sucking the blood of both parties, yet with an understanding that guarantees some sot of sovereignty and independence between both parties, yet as characteristic of every society conflict and its resolution mechanisms are in place. 

The villagers know each other, and there is some form of status quo that's been maintained between both parties.

Whenever someone loses a property, being it animal, grains or other goods that can be recovered except for cash, it has gotten to the extent that those who fall victims to the thieves will go to those villages controlled by the thieves, the meet the chief of the thieves and lay a complaint the chief will summon one of his subjects the victims will describe the things that were stolen from them and the subject that knows the operation of every thief in the town will tell the Chief the thieve who stole the said item. The chief will put a fine to be paid by the owner of the property and his property will be brought back to him. 

Gradually, the thieves evolved and arm robbers began to emerge from among them. But they hardly use arms in their surroundings, they go to the cities and to other regions of the country and even to the neighboring countries to rob and return to their comfort zone. 

 Governor Yarima, Shari,ah And the foundation of a wider conflict. 

In 1999 Nigeria returned to democracy and civilian governors were elected across the 36 States of the federation, in the year 2000/2001 Governor Ahmed Sani Yariman Bakura implemented Shari, ah law in Zamfara State. 

With the implementation of the Sharia, the government initiated various programs aimed at reforming the system and eliminating some cultures, taboos considered inconsistent with the Islamic values and tradition.

The thieves were among the major targets, the government determines  to eradicate them rather than to reform and reintegrate them. 

Yarima raised a troop of security forces, guards, Yan Tauri and other forces and stormed those villages owned by thieves. Many were killed, properties destroyed, their houses destroyed. 

As this was going on, the villages surrounding these thieve's jubilant and assisted the government in the campaign. Anyone of the thieves who escaped from the onslaught into any of the surrounding villages met his end at the hands of the villagers in the surrounding villages. 

But Yarima transgressed one of the basic laws of warfare. Rather than total annihilation, he chooses to hurt them, allow them to flee and chase them into the jungle leaving them to recuperate thus establishing new camps or hamlets, this time banded together with only one intent in mind which is vengeance.  

Since the Government is out of their reach, they resort to go into cattle rustling and ferrying same to the Lagos and other southern States.

The thieves found another willing collaborator also driven by the urge for vengeance, a group more dangerous, more sophisticated in warfare and more elusive that's the Fulani's.

How The Fulani Came Into The Picture. 

The farmer herders conflict has been as old as anyone can remember. Even though there has been a history of symbiotic relationship between the two groups, yet both groups still harbors ill feelings for one another. 

The Hausas who were mainly farmers using the Yan Tauri capitalized on the crises between them and the Fulani's and inflicted a grave injury on the Fulani. 

They use the opportunity provided by the government's crackdown on thieves and other taboos to descend on the Fulani's, killing many of them in broad daylight and butchering their cows.

If one Fulani is caught for rustling or any other crime, the Yan Tauri serving as guards of the Hausa  villages will unleash unimaginable terror on him and his family, anyone repeated to him his parents, his brothers and immediate family who are male and strong enough will be slaughtered in broad daylight with active support and collaboration of other villagers. 

At a time, a general patrol against the Fulani's became widespread that almost all the able-bodied young males had to flee the surrounding villages and their hamlets. They move deep into the forest far from the reach of their tormentors, there they met willing Allies the thieves.

The Death of Gaddafi and the influx of arms into the conflict.

Initially, the thieves relies on arm robbery and rustling as a means of survival, and they got arms and ammunition through the normal smuggling and arm dealership that has been supplying arm robbers across the country.

With the fall of Gaddafi smuggling in assault weapons and ammunition increased.....

To be continued.

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