A gang of bandits tormenting the Northwestern part of Nigeria says banditry in the region began as far back as when Zamfara was carved out of Sokoto under the regime of the late military Head of State, Sani Abacha in 1996.
The bandits revealed this in a video interview they granted as seen with Daily Trust on Wednesday.
The leader of the gang who spoke in Hausa disclosed that Fulani herders have been subjected to humiliation, suffering, and neglect in the past under the democratic governments that began in 1999 till date which compelled them to take up arms.
According to them, the entirety of wealth in Nigeria is not shared with the nomads by the successive governments leaving them in illiteracy and hunger, and choosing banditry to survive became a necessity.
“It’s been long we started. We started not long after Zamfara State was created. We took up arms because we are herders and despite this country’s wealth, we are not carried along, we are not educated, we do not know anything. We do not have security, we do not have any benefit.
“We are the ones being killed but are always seen as the aggressors. We don’t have anything. Wherever a herder is, he is uneducated and has nothing. In this country, there is everything but we are not carried along. It is as if though we don’t exist. We are just being killed,” the leader of the gang said in the video.
Also, he spoke about a deal that was breached by the Nigerian government in the past which should have put an end to banditry in the region.
The bandits revealed that the government did not fulfil its end of the deal, lamenting that killing happens almost every day in the North West, with no particular regard to any tribe.
“Of course, it has been breached. You have asked for an armistice. An agreement was reached but you left that person in the forest with a gun and nothing was to substitute. What do you expect? How do you want that person to survive?
“All promises made to us, none of them was fulfilled and nothing was done to enrol the young ones in schools. We should be treated the same way and given jobs, by the government. The Hausa, Yoruba, and Fulani should be treated equally,” the bandits said.
Speaking, the leader of the marauding gang said President Muhammadu Buhari should head the peace talks if he is serious about ending banditry and insecurity in the country.
Furthermore, the bandits claimed they supported President Buhari because he promised to fix the country, but they can see now that the promise was merely a fantasy.
“The president should personally come and preside over the talks. When he was campaigning, he travelled all over, why would he not do it now? He does not take these peace talks seriously and every day people are being killed. There is no day that someone is not killed between Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna, Sokoto, and Katsina. No two days pass without someone getting killed in these places.
“There is no tribe that is spared. Gunmen kill, soldiers kill, vigilantes kill. Whoever you see with a gun today in Nigeria, uses it to kill people. You may not know, but if I were to tell you the situation of things in this country, you will cry. Even the president will cry. We supported this administration and accepted dialogue because we thought he will fix the country but he won't fix the country.
“From the time he praised Goodluck (Jonathan), (Olusegun) Obasanjo, and late (Umaru) Yar’Adua. These were not praiseworthy. It would have been better if he had praised (Sani) Abacha because, under Abacha, pastoralists were being educated. During Abacha, there was allocation in the budget for the nomadic communities. There was no such thing again since Obasanjo became president.
“They stopped looking after Fulani. Their forests and grazing areas were taken over. You will see one person having as much as 1,000 hectares, just because he is rich,” the leader said.