Terrorism: Nigeria’s Northwest Communities Raise Concerns Over Stringent Measures

After moves by the Northwest state governors of Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, and Kaduna to curb terrorist activities, HumAngle gauges residents' reactions.

Zamfara State governor, Bello Muhammed Matawalle, was first to order the closure of weekly markets across the 14 Local Government Areas (LGA) of the state, followed by the ban of ‘black market’ operations in all corners of the state. 

Added to these measures are the daily restriction of movement from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sequel to these orders, the Katsina, Kaduna, Niger (in North-central) and Sokoto state governors of Nigeria’s Northwest region, also signed their respective “containment orders” due to incessant insecurity. 

According to the governors, this is meant to ensure peace, protect lives and properties, and ultimately end terrorism and ‘banditry’ in their domains. 

Sanusi Janyau, a resident of Gusau, Zamfara State, said “all these strict measures are apt and appropriate. What the government needs to do now is that it’s security operatives have to track and follow all the identified terrorists and criminals without fear or favour.”

“In fact, these terrorists, I can say without doubt, have humiliated, harassed, embarrassed and shamed the Zamfara State Governor. Because he allowed them to treat us with impunity and injustice.” 

Another resident, Musa Sulaiman Tsafe, lamented that “the circumstance at hand is telling on all of us, including those in the position of authority, that nobody is safe in Zamfara State. In fact the state is clearly crashing and burning.”

Dr Anas Sani Anka, a lecturer with the Department of History and International Relations, Federal University Gusau, warned that governors in the region should set politics aside: “To me, all the measures taken by the governor are no doubt apt and timely, but the government needs to keep politics and blame game aside and bring everybody together to chart the way forward for the state.”

“It’s two years into this government and we cannot accept hiding under the mistakes of the past government of Yari to allow the bloodshed to continue in Zamfara. We are very ready to comply with the right measures taken by the government if only the terrorists’ deadly attacks can be brought to an end. The government should be honest and sincere in ending this bloodshed so that life can return to normalcy in the state.”

Dr Anas further added: “If the government shuts down markets, filling stations, schools and enforce restriction of movement without the bloodshed stopping or minimizing terrorist attacks, at least to a minimum level, then the government should expect resistance from people if their hard conditions persist.”

“Business people are forced to remain indoors hence markets are closed. Those who trade on a daily basis, especially at night, are pushed off the streets because of the curfew. So there is a need for the government, and its agents to be more civil in their utterances so that people should not feel as if they are under the rule of dictators.”

Malam Murtala Musa, another Zamfara resident, said “I am appealing to the governors of the northwestern states to use the resources at their disposal to augment the efforts of our overstretched security operatives by massively recruiting the Civilian JTF who will be readily available to foil all impending attacks on rural communities.” 

In Sokoto State, a resident of Sabon Birni, Aminu Gobir, told HumAngle that “we are pleased with the latest sanctions imposed by the Sokoto State Governor meant to curtail insecurity. Even though we are not happy with all the restrictions, we are seeing its positive impact because the terrorists operating in our villages spent three days without attacking our communities.”

Dr Jalaludden Ibrahim, a Lecturer with Federal University Birnin Kebbi and a resident of Maradun LGA of Zamfara State lamented that “our homes, farms, schools, markets, roads are not safe in this country.”

He also pointed out that the terrorists cannot survive without food, fuel, and other basic needs and commended the Northwest governors’ efforts. 

Reacting, ElKabir Mafara, another lecturer with the Department of Accountancy, Abdu Gusau Polytechnic Talata-Mafara in Zamfara State, said “if Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi states could follow suit, it will complement and make Zamfara State Governor’s policy stronger, more effective and sustainable.” 

It could be recalled that, in July, 2021, Gudde Turji, a renowned terrorists’ gang leader, warned and threatened Zamfara State Government to facilitate the safe release of his father before unleashing terror against Shinkafi communities. This led to the abduction of about 120 residents from Kursasa, Kurya, Badarawa, and Kware in Shinkafi LGA.

Similarly, Ado Aleiru issued a similar threat in Tsafe LGA headquarters. Aleiru kept Tsafe under siege for nine hours following the arrest of his father by the security operatives.

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