The depleting security situation in the North-Western part of Nigeria grew out of land disputes driven by environmental degradation, population growth, and government corruption over land rights.
Dr Murtala Rufa’i, a lecturer in the department of history at Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto said this in an interview titled ‘Criminal Gangs Destabilizing Nigeria’s North West’.
Dr Rufa’i said that those factors were at the expense of locals who found access to their historical grazing lands and cattle routes blocked.
“But when gangs recruited from disgruntled pastoralists started attacking farming communities and realized that they had the power, momentum, and ability to raid these communities at will, then the conflict took on a new dimension.”
Rufai also said the federal and state governments have not been able to acknowledge the gravity of the problem and have constantly downplayed it.
He admits that the government is not interested in understanding the dynamics and how these armed groups operate.
“Therefore, the government has never developed consistent or coordinated policies to address the rising kidnappings and raids conducted by these criminal gangs.”
Rufa’i said the recent government containment measures put the bandits on their heels for a moment, but they have adapted and taken advantage of the situation now.
Another interviewee, Kunle Adebajo, a journalist with HumAngle, explained how criminal groups currently operate for purely economic gain. “The groups make income from various means: stealing from locals, levying communities, or through ransom payments from individuals and government,” he said.
Adebajo said the gang attacks are worsening with time. He explained that previously, such attacks were done in rural areas but recently armed groups are extending their operations to bigger communities that are closer to federal highways.
“This is because many of those areas have been raided repeatedly and are increasingly impoverished. So bandit groups are turning their attention to urban communities to get more money, to rustle more cattle, and to get larger ransoms.”
The interview explored the escalating attacks on communities in northwest Nigeria by criminal gangs, who are responsible for mass kidnappings of school children and exploiting the limited security sector presence in the region.
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