ZAMFARA State governor, Bello Matawalle, has disclosed that there are at least 100 camps and 30,000 bandits spread across six states in the North.
The governor made the disclosure on Friday during a press conference in Kaduna, Kaduna State.
Matawalle, who spoke through his Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Ibrahim Dosara, listed the affected states as Zamfara, Katsina, Kebbi, Kaduna, Niger and Sokoto.
“At least there are almost one hundred (100) different bandit camps with no fewer than 300 bandits in each of these camps having sophisticated weapons with them,” he declared.
The governor said bandits had equally established 24 routes and networks across the 14 local government areas of Zamfara with 232 leaders and large followership of 4,825 bandits across the state.
The implication of this, he said, was daily loss of lives, kidnapping of people, rustling of livestock in their thousands and other forms of criminality.
Also, he disclosed that between 2011 when the crisis began and 2019, 2,619 people were killed; 1,190 kidnapped and the sum of N900 million paid as ransom while 14,378 animals were rustled in the state. “One hundred thousand people were displaced from their ancestral homes. This is in addition to the hundreds of houses that were burned to ashes with foodstuffs and other valuables worth billions of naira destroyed by the bandits.
“People were traumatised. Farmers were prevented from going to their farms to cultivate the usual food and cash crops for their daily needs. There was general food insecurity in the state in particular and the region in general.
“The economy of the state was devastated by the crisis. This is in addition to the proliferation of both light and heavy weapons, with a high influx of bandits from neighbouring countries, with no solution in sight. The crisis defied all forms of solution,” he stated.
He explained that these statistics informed his government’s decision to negotiate with bandits. “Now tell me, which is the best option for the governor? To fold his arms and watch his people being killed or to go for dialogue and continue to use repentant bandits to convince the recalcitrant bandits to save the lives of the governed?” he said.