For the first time since the phenomenon appeared in 2011, “heavily armed” bandits shot down a Nigerian fighter jet on Sunday (July 18). The incident took place in western Nigeria, a new hearth for insecurity in the region.
“This incident shows that conflict, banditry and terrorism have taken on a new dimension,” said former Senator Shehu Sani, after the bandits, as Nigerians call them, attacked a fighter jet.
“The bandits have managed to gather weapons that could destroy important targets,” continues this former lawmaker in the state of Kaduna, one of the five states plagued by banditry.
“Some of them are even proud of their aircraft missiles,” he told RFI.
Heavily armed, these men – mostly traffickers, kidnappers and cattle thieves – fired “heavy” shots at the military plane in the state of Zamfara on Sunday. The pilot escaped the attack.
Also read Nigeria: 13 policemen killed by “bandits” in a new attack
If we do not know which weapon models are used, their origin would be Libyan.
“These groups benefited from the proliferation of weapons during the conflict in Libya,” said Ikemesit Effiong, head of the SBM Intelligence group in Lagos.
According to the expert, the arsenal would be transported on the same road as the migrants and the goods. It would pass through the Sahara and pass especially through Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
It is the first time “bandits” are attacking Nigerian aviation and the first time the authorities have acknowledged it.
“It is rare for the authorities to communicate about degrees,” Effiong continues. During the war against Boko Haram, the government had always denied any attack on the police, despite the jihadists firing on planes and helicopters.
This time, difficult to introduce silence. “The circumstances of the Sunday attack were such that they left little room for doubt,” Effiong adds.
“We have hard evidence. The news is also that the incident took place in northwestern Nigeria ”. Not in the northeast, on Boko Haram lands.
Utilization of mining resources
For ten years, bandits have been swarming in the region, mainly in the states of Katsina – the city of President Muhammadu Buhari -, Kaduna, Zamfara, Kebbi and Sokoto.
“They control places where they can easily access the mineral resources and use them to buy weapons,” Effiong continues.
Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina are centers of mining where bandits can easily mine for gold and lead.
“We see many groups ready to control mining and then use them to carry out their criminal activities,” the analyst added. These criminal activities have continued to spread since a conflict between herdsmen and farmers began in 2011, and which would be the origin of banditry according to NGO Northwest Banditry, specializing in the treatment of banditry roots.
At least 2,000 people have been abducted since January 2021, according to analyst firm SBM Intelligence led by Effiong, and the amount of redemption paid would amount to 18.43 million Naira, the local currency.
Attacks are increasing
“The bandits reinvest the proceeds of the ransom in weapons and these profits are used to strengthen their strike force and to carry out other attacks,” Effiong explains.
If the Nigerian authorities have intensified their efforts in recent months to secure the northern part of the country, some of the population accuse them of having released the bandits, even though they are known to everyone.
“As long as justice does not bring the infamous gang leaders Dan Karami, Karchallah Turji and Dogo Gide, these atrocities will not stop,” Shehu Sani wrote in a Twitter post on Sunday about the massacre of 13 police officers in the northwest. , just before the battle plane was shot down.
The killing of 13 policemen in Zamfara by Bandits is another horrific and tragic act of cruelty. Apart from the fact that the team will catch up with the infamous gang leaders such as Karami, Turji and Dogo Gide, there will be no end to these atrocities. The strength of the nation. needed
– Senator Shehu Sani (@ShehuSani) July 19, 2021 Who drives the bandits?
Dogo Gide is said to have ties to ISWAP, the Islamic State in West Africa. This branch of Boko Haram has made its breakthrough in the northwestern part of the country in recent years.
Dan Karami, the bandit’s other leader, is said to have close ties with religious authorities, for whom he even provided security.
Finally, Kachallah Turji is suspected of involvement with some politicians when it comes to stopping elections during the election. A way for him and Karami to ensure their impunity, according to analysts.
Driven by the crisis
The motivation of these bandits: money. The economic situation has a lot to do with it. “The Nigerian economy is going through a serious crisis,” Effiong explains. “Unemployment is reaching a significant threshold, especially in the north, and that is why many are taking the path of crime.”
It is the people who pay the price. “In my state of Kaduna, even with a strong military presence, the bandits are still succeeding in attacking,” said Shehu Sani. “Out of 23 municipalities, only two are safe. Children can no longer go to school, shepherds can not go to their land to cultivate it if they do not pay ransom. The authorities must act. “