Some repentant bandits in Tsafe Local Government Area of Zamfara State have said they took to crime because of harassment from security personnel.
Speaking at a peace meeting at the palace of Muhammadu Bawa, Emir of Tsafe, the ex-bandits claimed they “were harassed and intimidated” by the police and vigilantes, locally known as “Yan Sakai.”
Hassan Dantawaye, one of the bandit’s commanders, said they were “unjustly” treated by the government and society.
“We were forced into this because apart from cattle rustling incidents we faced some years back, we also faced serious harassment and intimidation from security personnel and Yansakai,” he said.
“We cannot go to markets, our children cannot go to school, whenever they see our children or wives in town they killed them.
“If security personnel arrest us, we have to spend a lot of money before we are released, sometimes security agencies launch attacks on our homes and kill us without any offence.
“With this ugly trend, we had no option than to embark on kidnapping, attacks and others crimes.”
Madele, a community leader, thanked the state government for the dialogue and urged the security agencies to protect them from “Yansakai and some security personnel who attack them unjustly in markets and towns”.
“We have agreed to embrace peace and dialogue, we commend the commissioner of police for inviting us for this meeting,” Madele said.
The repentant bandits promised to release all captives in their custody and pledged that “nobody will be attacked anymore.”
Yahaya Ahmed, chairman of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in the area, said total support would be given to the peace initiative.
“As from today, no vigilante group or CJTF member would attack any fulani herder, we will abide by the state government’s directive in this regard,” he said.
•“Fulani herders are now free to come to Tsafe town and all major towns in this area. They can go to markets and anywhere else they so wish.
“I am giving them the assurance that our members would not attack them any more.”
Commissioner of Police, Usman Nagogo, said most of the extrajudicial killings were perpetrated by the outlawed vigilante group. “As I always say, most of the extrajudicial killings and illegal attacks on communities were as a result of the actions of the outlawed vigilante group of “Yansakai, who were taking the law into their hands.”