Once upon a time, Boko Haram terrorists and the bandits were regarded as two distinct entities plaguing the north. The former were viewed as Islamic fundamentalists hell bent on gaining control of the government, in a bid to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria. On the other hand, the bandits were seen as criminals primarily focused on kidnapping people for ransom. Lately, however, the line between these two groups has become blurred.
Photos credit: The Guardian Nigeria.
The bandits may not have declared religion as a motivation for their actions, but they have recently been observed trying to overrun entire states. The controversial Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, once speculated that demagogues could someday arise and suggest to the criminals the notion of overthrowing the government. That seems to already be the case, judging by the bandits' bid to expand their territories in Zamfara and Katsina states, forcing the governments to disable communication.
Photo credit: The Whistler.
Another point to note is that the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in urging President Buhari to declare bandits as terrorists, called attention to certain states which he deems to be ignored by the military, despite recording heavy presence of the criminals. The places mentioned include Katsina, Niger, Sokoto and Kaduna in the North East and North Central region. What is of interest here is that some of these places are also becoming hotbeds of Boko Haram activities.
Photo credit: Research Gate.
Normally, Boko Haram terrorists are known to occupy the North Eastern part of Nigeria, while the bandits are mainly situated in the North West and North Central regions. However, there has begun to be an overlap in their areas of operation.
Recent reports indicate that Boko Haram terrorists have attempted to take over Niger state, and have already seized about 500 communities in a bid to do so. In fact, they are reported to be advancing toward one of Nigeria's major electrical energy sources, the Shiroro power plant. Unlike their dealings with ISWAP where fights ensued, the terrorists have had no issue with the bandits who also inhabit the state, suggesting cooperation among them.
Photo credit: NDlink.
Saying that the bandits and Boko Haram are collaborating in their quest for state domination is not far fetched, especially when a media report published in August is taken into consideration. It was reported that the terrorists have taken to training bandits in the art of kidnapping. Going by this information, it is safe to say that these two groups of criminals are of the same mind, with a common goal of taking over the country.
What do you think about this article? Do the bandits have the same goal as Boko Haram, or are they different?
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