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“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they aren’t true, but they are incomplete.They make one story become the only story.” These are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie words in her TED talk about the danger of single story.Rural banditry by all accounts is undermining security, peace, and development in Nigeria’s northwest.
Nigeria’s Northwest is gradually becoming another major regional theatre of violence, much like the Northeast where Boko Haram terrorists have wreaked havoc in the past ten years.
A problem, which initially appeared as localized disputes between herders and farmers over access to land, has morphed into an intractable crisis posing a major threat to national and regional security.
There are widespread allegations of corruption against state security operatives, police, judges, village heads, and even some vigilante groups.
The public institutions responsible for offering protection and delivering justice are unable to bring bandits to justice due to inadequate resources and widespread extortion.
Typical of the thriving culture of conspiracy theories in Nigeria, the narrative that is gaining wider currency in both policy and public circles is the view that the escalation of rural banditry is the handiwork of the political opponents of the ruling party, who lost out during the 20 elections. General Buratai, claims that the government is in possession of strong evidence pointing to certain politicians as those sponsoring rural banditry.
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Buratai was quoted as saying, “I want to believe and rightly so that with the fallout of the just concluded elections, there are politicians who saw their defeat as a means of revenge, sponsoring these criminal activities and even banditry, clashes between herders and farmers.” While some of the narratives may or may not be true, the responsibility of securing the lives and properties of the citizens remains that of the government.
Although sometimes exaggerated or underestimated by some political actors, casualty figures are quite alarming.
The former Governor of Zamfara state, Abdulaziz Yari, is reported to have said that nearly five hundred villages and thirteen thousand hectares of land have been devastated, and two thousand eight hundred and thirty five people killed between 20.
Between January and April 2019 a number of operations by the Nigerian Army, such as Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, “The Judiciary and Democratization in Nigeria: Prospects and Challenges”, Lecture delivered at the 36th Annual Aminu Kano Memorial Symposium, Aminu Kano Center for Democratic Studies, Mambayya House, April 17, 2019.
However, the armed bandits seem to be expanding the scope of their operations beyond Zamfara and into the neighboring states.