Crimes/Tragedy

15,000 Notorious Kidnappers In 40 Camps — Investigation

 

Northern forests that used to provide food, water and environmental safety for the people are no longer safe.

In place of the serenity that used to define the forests and give succour to farmers and others to source for essential resources for survival, the forests are now the playground for evil machinations, destruction, maiming, killing and dens for ransom negotiations and collection.

Life is no longer safe in any of the forests as evil merchants have brutally driven away farmers, hunters and other forest users, thereby, adding to the growing food shortage, prohibitive prices and the attendant insecurity, starvation and diseases. It is like ‘evil lives here’

From Zamfara State in the North-West, to Sambisa in the North-East, and Niger in the North-Central, the story of kidnapping, mass killings and terrorism orchestrated in the thick forests that abound in these places, is the same.

But of all the states in the North, the worst of the evil forests are easily those of Zamfara from where bandits have been staging nefarious operations and sending shivers down the spines of everyone.

Government comes and goes with threats to dislodge the malevolent elements but they stridently defy each government that tries to upstage them.

for security agencies to penetrate and fight the bandits at their camps.

According to an official report presented by Zamfara State government, over 15,000 bandits are operating in the state from 40 camps made up of eight main camps and over 32 minor camps embedded in numerous forests.

The report said that the bandits and terrorists were staying and operating fearlessly and seamlessly from the forests before the military confronted them and they decided to spread themselves into different camps to avoid being dislodged.

Bandit kingpins said to be operating in different camps in the state include Ali Kachalla, Dogo GiWali, Kachalla Halilu, Sububu Seno, Kachalla Turji, Dan Karami, Ado Aleru, and Adamu Aliero Yankuzo.

Meanwhile, Gidali was reported to have been killed by an Improvised Explosive Device planted by some members of his group to stop advancing troops of the Nigerian armed forces.

A security source noted, “They will be here today, after the security agencies would have gotten intelligence and ready to strike, they will leave and when you come in, you will not see anybody and they are somewhere else”.

An official report indicates that from 2009 to date, Zamfara has lost over 15, 000 lives, over 20, 000 people injured and more than 18, 000 villages destroyed, thereby throwing up 10, 000 widows and 20, 000 orphans.

Echoes of 2014 Chibok girls’ abduction in Borno

But while bandits have succeeded in embedding themselves firmly in major forests in Zamfara, terrorists have taken firm control of the dreaded Sambisa forest that shares borders with Borno and Yobe states.

Of all forests that harbor bandits and terrorists in Nigeria, Sambisa forest remains the most outstanding hotbed and epicenter for killings, kidnapping and coordination for terrorism.

The military knows it and the people confess about the prime position in terrorism in the country.

The feared Sambisa forest is not only vast and rich in resources but it also stretches hundreds of kilometres and covers many states in the North.

In Borno State, Sambisa covers Maiduguri, Jere, Konduga, Bama, Gwoza, Dikwa, Mafa, Marte, Kaga, Biu, Hawul, Chibok, Askira- Uba and Damboa local government areas while in Yobe State, the evil forest covers Gujba, Gulani, Damaturu and Bularafa LGAs.

This is in addition to pockets of forests that abound in the two states, which provide cover for criminals to perpetrate their heinous crimes without any challenge from the security agents.

Due to the seeming isolation that these places offer, criminals have successfully hidden in them to conduct kidnap operations and collect millions of Naira in ransom without fear.

It was from here that the plan for the kidnap of the Chibok girls was hatched and implemented in 2014 and it is from this same evil forest that subsequent attacks have been unleashed on others.

Rape, killings in Kaduna

•Ansaru terrorists take over Kaduna-Abuja Expressway forest

In nearby Kaduna State, the hotspot for kidnapping is the Birnin-Gwari forest located on the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway.

Thousands of innocent persons passing through or residing around the area have either been killed or kidnapped for huge ransom while many women have been raped and killed as well by bandits and terrorists who have located their operational bases in the forests there.

According to the Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, no fewer than 214 persons were killed as a result of attacks by terrorists, communal clashes, violent attacks and reprisals across the state.

Out of this, 746 people were kidnapped in the first quarter of 2023 around the Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Igabi, Chikun and Kajuru areas of the state.

It Is in Biirnin-Gwari that the dreaded Ansaru terrorist group has entrenched and use the forest to unleash attacks on innocent Nigerians using the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway.

Following their attacks, travelers have become wary of the road.

One of the bandit leaders believed to be operating from Kaduna forests, Boderi Isyaku, was eliminated only last week in a gun duel with security forces.

Governor Uba Sani, who confirmed the killing, described “the elimination of Boderi Isyaku as a notable milestone in the ongoing fight against terrorism and banditry”.

Sani’s words: ”Boderi, as he was simply known, had for nearly a decade propagated a reign of fear, death and destruction in Kaduna State and neighbouring Niger State, with a trademark of brutal attacks, mass abductions and cruel, relentless killing.

“His elimination comes as the culmination of tireless efforts by dedicated troops committed to restoring peace and security in the region. The General Officer Commanding, 1 Division, Nigerian Army (and Force Commander, Operation Whirl Punch) Major General VU Okoro, coordinated the operation through meticulous planning and intelligence.

way to freedom or through the intervention of security personnel, some others were not so lucky to come out of the kidnappers’ dens alive.

Though many of these cases go unreported, prominent among those who died or killed by their abductors was an elder statesman and pioneer Chairman of Ukum LGA, 81 years old Pa Raymond Erukaa who was abducted in Zaki Biam on September 23, 2023.

The octogenarian died in the captivity of his abductors after a ransom of N2 million was paid for his release.

Plateau outlaws operate viciously from border communities

In Plateau State, kidnapping, killings and armed robberies are said to be common in border communities with Bauchi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Taraba states.

Burra forest after Nigeria’s forces dislodged the terrorists from Sambisa forest in Borno State. Sunday Vanguard’s findings reveal that Burra forest also links through a corridor to the Falgore forest in Kano State and Saminaka in Kaduna State.

Last year, after several kidnappings and killings across many communities by men of the underworld, a combined team of security operatives, after gun duels, rescued 16 people kidnapped by gunmen in Burra and surrounding forests between Ningi and Toro Local Governments of Bauchi.

In Adamawa, the Cameroun connection

Many factors are responsible for the presence of many kidnap forests in Adamawa State and a hub for kidnapping and terrorism.

The major reason Is that Adamawa has land borders with the Republic Cameroun in all the three senatorial zones, a development that makes it easy for kidnappers to abduct innocent persons and ferry them across the borders to Cameroun thereby taking them away from the prying eyes of Nigerian security agents.

The evil merchants are also aided by the fact that Adamawa is surrounded by many mountains to the East, West, North and South, which make it almost impossible for security operatives to invade and confront the malevolent elements.

These areas are located in Jumo in Song LGA, Ya din, Chigari, Kojoli and Karlahi in Jada LGA. Others are Kekewaji, Kakore, Bole, Mbamba and Nyibango in Yola South LGA.

The rest include forests in Tambo and Tasha Mai Turare in Tires as well as Digil in Mubi North.

Adamawa, which is one of the three front line states ravaged by the dreaded Boko Haram, is equally facing the menace of bandits and kidnappers in the Sambisa forest that runs through Garkida, Gombi, Madagali, Michika and many other communities in the northern senatorial zone of the state.

Bride held in Kwara kidnap forest

being apprehended by security agents.

They are said to be concentrating in local forests in Unashi,Dan Kade, Dan Umaru, Mai Rairai ,Wasagu, Mun haye and Bena, which share boundaries with Zamfara.

their victims to their camps located within Yorro and ArdoKola.

The recent rescue operations and destruction of kidnappers’ camps in Gampu Hills and Ban Yorro is a pointer to this.

Nasarawa kidnappers loiter around police base

Kidnapping-for-ransom and killings are rife in the Nasarawa towns of Akwanga, Wamba, Nasarawa -Eggon hills especially around where the police mobile training school is sited.

Kidnapping in the Nasarawa Eggon is extended to the Udiege development area where most of the kidnapped victims are kept and payment of ransom is made.

Some of the kidnappers’ dens have been dismantled around Nasarawa Eggon, Toto, Akwanga and Wamba in the state.

Katsina bandits turn schools into camp

In Katsina State, there are over 65 vulnerable towns, villages and hamlets bordering Rugu forest which has long become a playground for bandits, terrorists and kidnappers.

These elements neither hide nor pretend that they are hiding in the fortresses for years and orchestrating their nefarious activities with brutality and impunity.

Kankara LGA is one of the major havens for bandits and kidnappers in Katsina and the wave of attacks has been rampant and destabilising in recent years.

are no fewer than seven locations where these malevolent elements are very strong in the state. In a desperate bid for survival, some villagers have entered into agreements with them while others are coerced into running errands for the criminals. The lack of government intervention has left Yarkuka residents wondering when next bandits will strike and what it will cost them. (Sunday Vanguard)

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