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“We Decided To Kill 50 People For Every Slain Herdsman” — Head Of Zamfara Bandits Who Renounced Violence

Hassan Dantawaye is the commander of bandits who recently renounced violence following peace talks in Zamfara State. The bandits, who are Fulani herdsmen, had been engaged in killing, kidnapping and other crimes, which they blamed on cattle rustling and harassment by security agencies and local vigilance group. Dantawaye tells MAIHARAJI ALTINE about the peace initiative and some of the atrocities they had committed

Q: You recently said your people were forced into a life of kidnapping, killing and other crimes because you were unjustly treated by the government and society, how were you treated unjustly?

A: Thank you so much for this question. We the Fulani have been facing serious challenges, both from the government and cattle rustlers, some of whom are our own people. I mean some bad eggs among us. Most of them are not even citizens of this country.

We were living peacefully about 10 years ago. There was nothing like cattle rustling or kidnapping let alone killings or destruction of innocent people’s properties. The only issue we had then was Fulani herders/farmers clashes and they were always addressed by community leaders of both the farmers and the Fulani.

Let me tell you the truth of the matter, cattle rustling was the genesis of armed banditry in this country. Many Fulani like me have lost their cattle to the rustlers. You know that the Fulani are neither farmers nor traders; they depend solely on the rearing of animals. So when cattle rustling started in our state in 2013, we did all we could to draw the attention of the government to the problem, to do something about it, but nothing was done to stop the menace. The government ignored our numerous complaints. So as time went on, most of us lost almost all of our animals, and as a result of that, many decided to also engage in cattle rustling to regain their lost animals and also sell some of the animals to buy food and other things.

As time went on, the government realised that cattle rustling was on the increase. So, the former governor, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Yari, quickly ordered that no cow should be sold or taken out of the state until it was certified that the person selling it or taking it outside was the genuine owner of the animal.

So that was when we started having serious problems. We have stolen cows but we had no money to buy food because we didn’t know how to sell the animals. One day, an idea came to us that since the kidnapping of people for ransom was being done in some parts of this country and people were making money from it, we should adopt that to get money for our needs. So you see, if the government had acted fast and arrested the issue of cattle rustling at the time we complained about it, we wouldn’t have been involved in these heinous activities.

Q: You said you also faced serious harassment and intimidation from security personnel and Yan Sakai (a local vigilance group), can you expatiate on your experience?

A: Of course, we faced serious harassment and intimidation from the security personnel and the vigilance group, a factor that further worsened the security situation in the state. The security agents, particularly the police, have been levying charges on our people. They had been collecting money from us unnecessarily simply because both the government and society consider every Fulani man as a criminal. When the ban on the sale of cattle was imposed by the state government, the police took advantage of that to extort money from even genuine Fulani people who own animals, whenever they see them. This issue seriously aggravated the insecurity problems in the state.

The vigilance group and Yan Sakai have also contributed to the insecurity issue considering their negative attitude towards the Fulani people. These two groups have turned themselves into groups that are licensed to kill. They killed any Fulani man they perceived as a bandit or cattle rustler and the government did not take any serious action to stop the menace. Many of our people were killed by these people. After realising that the government was not ready to stop the killing of our people by these two groups, we decided to pay back with reprisals. From that day, we decided to kill at least 50 people whenever one of us was killed.

Q: You mentioned cattle rustling, how many cows are you aware were rustled in the last one year, or example?

A: Nobody can answer this question but l can tell you that more than half of our people have lost their animals. Many of them have died of hypertension, while several others have turned to beggars as they have nothing left with them.

Q: What was your personal cattle rustling experience?

A: Believe me, I lost 372 cows and a large number of sheep. My family members have also lost many. In fact, that was my reason for leaving my village and moving to the forest as an alternative home and becoming a bandit, because I had nothing left to depend on.

Q: In the course of all that, did you share your concerns with the government before your people resorted to kidnapping and killing?

A: How many times do you want me to explain this? I told you that we did all we could to convince the government to come to our aid, particularly with regards to cattle rustling. The police had a bad attitude towards our people and there was the persistent killing of our people by the villagers and volunteer groups, but our appeals to the government fell on deaf ears.

Q: What specific response did you get?

A: Not much attention was given to our plight.

Q: How did you become the commander of the bandits?

A: I became the commander because of my total commitment to the plight of my people. They have respect for me because I am very sincere and committed to protecting their interest. I am always contacted by the present administration of Governor Bello Matawalle for any peace accord and whatever he says is accepted by the group.

Q: What do you do normally?

A: As to how?

Q: How do you discharge your duty as the leader of the bandits?

A: The issue is now over. We have embraced peace moves initiated by Governor Matawalle, as such; there is no need for me to tell you the mode of operations since the chapter is now closed.

Q: Are you all Fulani herdsmen?

A: Yes, the people under my command are all Fulani herdsmen. But I cannot say that all bandits are Fulani people because there are several instances where people from other tribes were arrested for banditry. There are many people arrested for banditry and when you look at their identities, you find out that some of them are not Fulani.

Q: How was the group formed? Did you all come together after identifying one another as victims of cattle rustling and so on?

A: You are very correct. The majority of those in our group are victims of armed banditry or other forms of intimidation by either the security personnel or vigilance group. But there are also others who only joined us to fight our enemies and also get something for their families.

Q: Did they undergo any training before they started kidnapping and killing?

A: No, they didn’t need any special training except only on how to operate AK 47 or other weapons. Once a person knew how to use a gun and fight his enemy, he had met our requirements. The kidnapping issue is not something one can be trained on. We normally had our targets. So we only sent our boys to go and kidnap this or that person. We also blocked some roads and kidnapped motorists.

Q: Many of you have surrendered weapons, guns and so on after renouncing, how many have been submitted to the government so far?

A: We surrendered some guns, but you know, the peace process is still ongoing. We are still studying the situation in order to ascertain the level of commitment and seriousness of the government before we finally surrender all of our weapons. Don’t forget that we had a similar peace accord with the past administration of former Governor Yari, when thousands of weapons were surrendered to the government. But at the end of the day, the peace accord failed to yield any positive result. But, I trust the current peace accord of the new governor, Alhaji Bello Matawalle. The governor is really serious; that is why we have released almost all those people we kidnapped in various places. We will soon surrender all the weapons in our possession.

Q: How do your people get the weapons?

A: This is top secret. I cannot disclose this for now but when the time comes, I will answer your question.

Q: Why did you see kidnapping and killing as the solution?

A: I told you earlier that we resorted to kidnapping because we were left with no option as the government at that time banned the sale of animals and we were almost out of cash to purchase food. Similarly, we resorted to killing in order to avenge the killing of our own people by the vigilance group and Yan Sakai.

Q: How many people were you involved in their kidnap?

A: They were many. I cannot precisely tell you their number.

Q: What about killing? Is that something you can talk about?

No.

Q: How were the peace talks with the vigilantes initiated?

A: The peace talks were initiated by the state police commissioner, Alhaji Usman Nagogo, who invited all the stakeholders, that is the Fulani people, vigilance group and Yan Sakai to a meeting where every group was given a chance to voice their grievances. After a series of meetings, we all agreed that there was a need for all of us to forgive one another and embrace peace. We agreed to release the people we had abducted if the government could also release our people that had been imprisoned.

Governor Matawalle has not only accepted our request but has also promised to provide us with government assistance for us to live happily like our counterparts, the farmers. He has also proscribed the activities of the vigilance group and Yan Sakai.

Q: The public has also had problems with the way your herders also roam from place to place with their cattle, destroying farm crops and so on? Will you say that is fair?

A: I will not say that it is fair. You see, farmers depend on their farms to survive and the Fulani depend on their animals. So it is very unfair for the Fulani to destroy food crops. But sometimes we have no alternative because more than 80 per cent of grazing areas have now been encroached into by farmers. There used to be enough grazing lands demarcated by the government in those days mainly for cattle. They are called cattle routes. These lands have been taken over by farmers and the government did not bother much about it. So that is why we are having problems with those who have encroached into the cattle routes and grazing lands. If this issue is addressed by the government, I am telling you, the issue of destruction of crops will be over.

Q: Many of your kidnap victims are still in captivity; will you ensure the release of all these people following the peace initiative?

A: As far as I am concerned, nobody is currently being held captive in Zamfara State. We have released our captives and the government has also released our people arrested by security agents.

Q: But people are still being kidnapped, though the situation has gone down, what are you doing to ensure that killing and kidnapping stop totally?

A: We have not kidnapped anybody in one week as the government is doing its best to fulfil its promise. Nobody was kidnapped or killed during the Eid el Kabir festival. So there is relative peace in the state now.

Q: How do you pass the message of peace across to the various cells of bandits?

A: It is easy to communicate nowadays with mobile phones. So we communicate with our people through phone calls.

Q: What do you think is the solution to all the problems of insecurity in the country?

This is very simple. Justice is the solution to the problem of insecurity in Nigeria.

Q: What do you mean?

A: I mean everybody should be treated justly and with fairness. All Nigerians must be treated equally. The government should try as much as possible to make sure that the right of every Nigerian is adequately protected. If this is done, I assure you, the problem of insecurity would be adequately addressed. (Punch)

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JUST IN: Masked Gunmen Kill Miyetti Allah Leader In Adamawa |The Republican News

by Jerry Lenbang

Some unidentified gunmen have killed Saidu Kolaku, a leader of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Adamawa state.

The assailants were said to have invaded his home on Saturday at Sabon Pegi in Mayo Belwa local government area in the state and shot him dead.

Prior to his death, Kolaku was the zonal vice-chairman of the MACBAN (Adamawa south).

Sulaiman Nguroje, the state police spokesman, who confirmed the incident, said the victim died in the hospital.

‘’Unknown gunmen stormed the resident of the Fulani leader located at Sabon Pegi in Mayo Belwa local government, shot him and left him in the pool of his blood,” he said.

‘’Following the incident, a distress call was forwarded to the police who rushed to the scene and took the victim to the hospital where he was confirmed dead by the doctor on duty.”

The spokesman also revealed that the state commissioner of police has ordered personnel of the homicide department to investigate the circumstance that led to Kolaku’s death.

‘’Indeed, police received the death of the slain man with shock because of his invaluable contribution towards fighting crime and criminality especially his gallantry in the fight against kidnappers,” he said.

“The command has launched manhunt for the fleeing culprits and God’swilling, they will be tracked down and brought to justice.”

In his reaction, Muhammad Buba, public relations officer (PRO) of Miyetti Allah in the state, described Kolaku’s killing as a reprisal attack from persons who were provoked by his effort in fighting crime.

“Efforts of Kolaku in fighting crime had made the police command to honour him on 17th July 2019, for his gallantry and valiant exploits in fighting kidnappers and cattle rustlers rampaging the state,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate that the death of our zonal leader will seriously undermine the fight against crime and criminality in the state.’’

Adamawa is one of the states affected by insecurity, insurgency and periodic incidences of inter-communal killings.

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FRESH ATTACKS [Photos]: Bandits Kill 25 In Sokoto |The Republican News

At least 25 people have been killed in fresh bandits’ attack in four villages of Ghandi District in Rabah Local Government Area of Sokoto State at the weekend.

The bandits stormed villages of Tsage, Rakonni, Kalhu and Gee’re villages on Sunday, killing 25 people and wounding many. The state governor, Aminu Tambuwal was among dignitaries who attended the funeral prayer for the deceased on Sunday. Condoling the families, people of Rabah Local government and the state as a whole at the palace of district head of Ghandi, Mr Tambuwal appealed to the security agencies to redouble efforts towards containing the menace.

Tambuwal praised Ghandi community for being their brothers’ keepers and urged them to continue with the good job of providing accomodation to the internally displaced persons. He, therefore, directed the state Zakkat and endowment commission, Isa and Sabon Birni Local governments to come to the aid of the internally displaced persons.Briefing newsmen on the incident in Ghandi town, the state commissioner of police, Ibrahim Kaoje, said four suspects including a woman have been arrested.

The police commissioner however assured that they are on top of the situation.The Governor also attended the funeral ceremony of the deceased.

(politicsnigeria)

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25,794 Killed In Violent Crisis During Buhari’s First Term, Benue Tops The List – Report |The Republican News

President Muhammadu Buhari; his wife, Aisha Buhari and acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammed, during the swearing-in of Buhari in Abuja…on Wednesday

Samson Folarin

No fewer than 25, 794 Nigerians may have died in violent crises in the first four years of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The figure was released by the Nigeria Security Tracker, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonprofit think tank specialising in United States foreign policy and international affairs.

The number represents those killed by different insurgent groups and Boko Haram in the North, herdsmen, and people who died in extrajudicial activities of the military.

From June 2015 to May 2019, our correspondent observed that Borno suffered the highest casualties, recording 9,303 deaths. The state was followed by Zamfara (1,963) and Adamawa (1,529).

Others captured in the map are Kaduna (1,488), Plateau (771), Taraba (649), Benue (1,642), Niger (252) Rivers (730), Cross River (467), Ogun (301), among others.

Graphical illustration revealed that the highest casualties were recorded in July 2015 (1,299) and January 2019 (1,077).

Within the four years timeline, Boko Haram  was  responsible for 5,598 deaths, while sectarian violence, including the herdsmen-farmers crisis led to 4,917 deaths.

State actors alone, including the military, were said to have killed 4,068 people.

During the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan (June 2011 to May 2015), a total of 34,884 people were reportedly killed across the country.

The highest record of casualties was in March 2014, when 3,456 Nigerians were killed.

Boko Haram and the military were together responsible for 12,765 deaths.

The Council on Foreign Relations, while explaining the methodology behind the data, said it relied on media reports.

The report said, “The Nigeria Security Tracker tracks violence that is both causal and symptomatic of Nigeria’s political instability and citizen alienation. The data are based on weekly surveys of Nigerian and international media.

“The data start with May 29, 2011, the date of Goodluck Jonathan’s inauguration as president. It was an event that highlighted the increasing bifurcation of the country on regional and religious lines. The NST is updated weekly.

“Relying on press reports of violence presents methodological limitations. There is a dearth of accurate reporting across certain regions, death tolls are imprecise, and accounts of incidents vary. There is the potential for political manipulation of media. Given these limitations, the NST makes every effort to collect information from multiple sources. Nevertheless, NST statistics should be viewed as indicative rather than definitive.”

The Presidency did not react when contacted.

 Calls made to Presidential spokesmen, Mr Femi Adesina, and Mr Garba Shehu, were not returned.

Text messages forwarded to  them were  also not responded to as of 9.03pm.

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BREAKING: Boko Haram Lays Siege On Military Base In Maiduguri |The Republican News

The Republican News file photo: Boko Haram members

Suspected Bok Haram terrorists are currently laying siege on a military base near Maiduguri, a military source has confirmed to The Republican News via our North-east reporter.

The Republican News source confirmed that the Islamic terrorist group stormed Delwa military base in an effort to overrun the military base formation.

“The terror group members began by attacking and engaging troops in a very deadly gun duel at 6pm local time”, our source added.

This is a developing story.

Details later……..

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US Envoy Proffers Solution On How To End Violence In Nigeria |The Republican News

US Envoy to Nigeria, Stuart Symington

…As US government honours Imam Abubakar with peacemaker award

Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, has proffered solution to spiralling violence in the country. This is even as the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria honoured Imam Abdullahi Abubakar who hid 200 villagers during attacks on Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State with Ambassador’s Peacemaker Award for Heroism.

Symington disclosed this during an interfaith dialogue with Imam Abdullahi Abubakar at the premises of the United States Embassy in Abuja.

Symington said: “It will end when all come together and invest in each other and when individuals find the path forward, not just for their own daughters and sons, but for the daughters and sons of every Nigerian.”

Earlier, Ambassador Symington urged mankind to love one another and let the idea of one family take the centre stage.

The United States Ambassador also urged the world to emulate the virtue of kindness to promote global peace.

The envoy added that Imam Abubakar’s act of brotherliness raised hope of a cohesive society in the face of growing mistrust.

“Today, there is only one word that matters and that is perhaps, love. Or perhaps, one more word, family.

“With the lesson of this imam, chief imam, this village head, this deputy imam, and all of those who brought you this story, is a lesson not just for Nigeria, but for all mankind – one family, one race, one love,” Symington stated.

In his earlier remarks, Imam Abubakar said God who created mankind, had a reason for creating mankind in different forms and brought mankind together and gave a command to mankind not to harm one another.

“God has created us as diverse people. Some black, some white, some tall, some short. God has a reason. He is the only One who knows why He created us that way.

“It is unfortunate what happened in my community which led to the demise of some in the community and by Allah’s grace, some have survived to tell the story,” Imam Abubakar said. (The Sun)

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Only God Can Protect Our Borders – Security Chiefs |The Republican News

President Buhari with Nigerian Security Chiefs

Security Chiefs yesterday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari said only God can police the country’s border. At the end of a security meeting with Buhari at the State House, Abuja, the country’s security chiefs blamed the porous border for the rising insecurity.

The security chiefs including; the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Sadique. Others are National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan- Ali, Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Abubakar, Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and the Director General of Department for State Service (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi spent over two hours meeting with the president.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, expressed concern over the inflow of arms into the country. (Daily Trust)

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