Armed bandits have partitioned Zamfara State, with each of their key leaders asserting control over ‘territories.’ The following brief sketches on each of them are based on open sources and eyewitness accounts of residents in communities where bandits operate.
Nashawari was born in Gusami district in Birnin Magaji local government area of the state. He was brought up as a herder, controlling hundreds of cows and other domestic animals, a source familiar with his background revealed. Ardo Nashawari was said to have taken up arms against authorities and other communities after one of the numerous inter-ethnic clashes in Gusami District between Fulani and suspected local vigilantes, otherwise known as Yan Sakai, consumed his family members.
Since then Nashawari has been commanding hundreds of armed criminals, largely responsible for attacks in Birnin Magaji, eastern Tsafe in Zamfara state, and Batsari and Safana in Katsina state. He has attended several peace meetings summoned by the state authorities in the past. He has made several promises to halt hostilities towards communities in the state. However, he has reneged on his earlier pledges.
A notorious bandits’ leader named Dan Karami is believed to be holding communities in Zurmi-Gidan Jaja and Jibia axis in Zamfara and Katsina states under siege. Dan Karami said to be in his early 30s, has about 500 heavily armed bandits under his command. His boys are notoriously known as “Yan Shabakwai,” or the “teenagers” because they are mostly young and are responsible for most of the abductions, cattle rustling, and series of deadly raids on dozens of communities in that axis.
He is said to have been born in a settlement called Lambar Gabas in Rukudawa district of Zurmi local government area of Zamfara state. Dan Karami has a house with more than 38 rooms, a mosque, and Islamiyya school in that community. His settlement is situated not more than two kilometers east of Rukudawa, a farming community that has suffered series of deadly assaults by armed bandits for more than a decade.
A source in the community said, “His residence is heavily fortified by armed men and has become a rendezvous for herders and all sorts of criminals. In fact, no one can risk going there unless the person is one of Dan Karami’s apologists.”
“Dan Karami does not normally leave his settlement to carry out attacks; he is always in the comfort of his home. However, he gives nods for attacks on communities at will. All sorts of assault weapons could be found with him.”
“He lives in that house with his father called Buda and maternal grandfather identified as Maiyara Dandela. Dankarami’s uncle called Kundu, another notorious bandits’ leader was killed in a gang war.”
“He is believed to have his father’s blessing to engage in armed banditry. But he does not see eye-to-eye with his maternal grandfather, following the latter’s effort to convince him to shun his ugly ‘business.’”
“His boys, “Yan shabakwai,” are spread in different camps in the forest straddling Zurmi and Birnin Magaji local governments in Zamfara state and Jibia local government in the neighboring Katsina state. They are said to be responsible for a recent attack on Dauran community in Zurmi local council in which more than 100 cows and Sallah rams were carted away,” the source said.
Turji has many camps and enclaves in Sububu forest. The forest straddles Shinkafi and Maradun local government areas of Zamfara state. He is believed to be the one spearheading attacks on communities in Shinkafi, Maradun, and Zurmi local government area of the state. He commands more than 300 heavily armed boys and has been very brutal to communities he perceives as enemies. He is the brain behind the intermittent sacking of several communities in Shinkafi local government area.
A couple of weeks ago, Turji drove residents of about five communities from their homes. The communities are in Shinkafi local government area, where Turji operates. The displacement of people followed the interception and arrest of Turji’s father by security operatives in Jigawa state. He blamed the farming and herding communities for conspiring against his father and threatened that since his father would not celebrate Eid Kabir at home all the residents of about 30 communities he marked for attacks wouldn’t, too.
Turji unleashed his boys on the communities, killing several and carting away dozens of cows and other domestic animals. Some of them took refuge in some buildings in Shinkafi town. Some days later, the security operatives released his father and he freed more than 100 people under his captivity, in return. He also promised to return the herds of cattle he had rustled to their rightful owners.
In February this year, the prominent Kaduna-based Islamic cleric Sheikh Ahmad Gummi met Turji and his boys in one of his enclaves in the Sububu forest. The cleric begged Turji to stop attacks on communities. He obliged the cleric’s demand but gave conditions.
The ‘lords’ of Dansadau
In Dansadau, a troubled emirate with very fertile land for crop farming and expansive forest spread out from Zamfara, Katsina, Kebbi, Kaduna, and Niger states, bandits, such as Dogo Gide, Kachalla yellow, Mochoko, Mallam Abba, Black, and Dan Makaranta, are lords.
Of all the aforementioned armed criminals, Dogo Gide, who is believed to have ties with Boko Haram, stands out. Dogo Gide is shuttling between Kaduna and Niger and Zamfara states and is believed to be responsible for high-profile kidnapping, especially on Abuja- Kaduna highway.
Dogo Gide was believed to have facilitated the relocation of Mallam Abba from Borno state to Zamfara state, purely to help form Boko Haram segment in Zamfara forest, credible sources said. He was the one who killed the notorious bandits’ leader Buhari Tsoho, otherwise known as Buharin Daji. Dogo Gide was spotted at Eid prayer ground during the last Eid Fitr in Babbar Doka, a community located 10 km west of Dansadau town.
Kachalla is the one spearheading most of the attacks and abductions along Gusau – Dansadau road. He was the one who also led attacks on the Dansadau community in recent times. He commands about 200 fearless armed boys known for their ambush against the security operatives.
This bandits’ leader, reports say, is an elderly person but ruthless. He asserts his influence around Magami-Dankurmi – Kongo- Dangulbi axis. Reports say Dandela was among the arrowheads of the abduction of Jangebe schoolgirls early this year.
Aleiro is making the lives of residents of communities in Tsafe, and Faskari local government areas of Zamfara and Katsina state unbearable. He asserts control of bandits traumatizing these communities. In 2018, he sacked many communities in eastern Tsafe after security operatives seized about 500 cows he was suspected to have rustled from Kaduna and Niger states. He was also the arrowhead of attack in communities in the Faskari local government area of Katsina state. He promised to stop attacks and cattle rustling after officials engaged him in a peace deal. He resumed his heinous activities. Katsina state police command has placed a bounty on his head for attacking a community in the Faskari local government area.