Banditry has been one of the twin terrors of the north, alongside Boko Haram terrorists, for quite some time now, quickly becoming a major thorn in the flesh of northerners. The problem has since gone beyond the kidnapping of students, and progressed to rampant killings and even the attempted invasion of states, as seen in the cases of Katsina and Zamfara. While an end to banditry is still being sought, the beginning of it also has to be considered, for the sake of better understanding of the problem.
Photo credit: The Guardian Nigeria.
The controversial Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, in an elaborate article he wrote about the bandits, attempted to give a history of the criminals. He described them as former Fulani herdsmen who fell victim to cattle rustlers. He said that the herders, after being disappointed by the poor response of the government to their plight, turned to crime in a bid to raise money to defend themselves. They thus became the bandits we know of and dread today.
Photo credit: The Whistler.
What Sheik Gumi did not reveal, though, is the identity of the cattle rustlers whose actions drove the herdsmen to banditry. However, the answer to that question may have been given by an article published by the Nigerian Watch newspaper. While discussing the contribution of bad leadership to the spread of banditry, it was disclosed that the unchecked influx of immigrants is partly to blame.
Photo credit: NDlink.
These illegal immigrants came in the form of Fulani from countries bordering northern Nigeria. As it turned out, they had no good intention for being on Nigerian soil, as they quickly turned against their hosts and stole their cattle. Additionally, it has often been said that many of the arrested bandits are not even natives, showing that the aliens graduated from cattle rustling to full blown terrorism.
Photo credit: The Guardian Nigeria.
Many people have sounded this alarm over time, though whatever action may have been taken to curb the problem appears to be too little. President Buhari himself once attributed the violence perpetrated by Fulani in Nigeria to foreigners. So also has the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani Kayode. Most recently was Benue state Governor, Samuel Ortom, who revealed that the bandits arrested in his state speak French, and are from neighbouring Niger Republic and Mali.
Photo credit: ICIRNigeria.
Going by this, it can be inferred that the root cause of banditry in Nigeria is the country's porous borders, which have served as entrance points for criminals. Apart from taking the war to the bandits via military action, properly securing our borders against foreign invasion should also be considered. Preventing more of the criminals from getting into Nigeria is just as important as fighting them.
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