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When bandits are not criminals – Abiodun Kuforiji-Nkwocha







Ladies and gentlemen, and there you have it.



Welcome to Northern Nigeria.



The most devastated part of Nigeria that has suffered through at least ten years of violent debasement.



There is nothing that we have not seen. Kidnappings/abductions, destruction of farms, annihilation of villages, beheadings of farmers, kids murdered in school, girls raped and taken as wives; soldiers ambushed and killed, bombings… the list goes on.



At some point, there was a massive relocation of non-Northerners back to where they are from. It just wasn’t conducive to raise families in such places. Corps members too had the option of not going to that part of Nigeria. Who wan die?



The same region from where most politicians have relocated their families to Abuja.



The same region with the highest maternal and infant mortality.




And the region with the most children out of school.




The ‘Sudan’ of Nigeria.



When bandits are not criminals – Abiodun Kuforiji-Nkwocha



The ‘Afghanistan’ of Nigeria.




Incidentally, the region that has produced our current president. The region with the most people at the top echelon of power.



The region contributing the least to the national purse.



This is the region where a sitting governor (precisely the governor of Zamfara State) declared that not all bandits were criminals.




That statement hit me in the chest.



What does it mean? I kept asking myself.



First off, who are the bandits?







A lot of terminology has been coined to describe the activities of men who come to kill; steal and cause mayhem in the North.



It was ‘unknown gunmen’.



It then briefly graduated to ‘terrorists’.



Then it was it downgraded to ‘bandits’.



What are the activities of these men? What differentiates them?



They all do the same thing.



They are armed. -They ambush people. Also, they injure and kill people. They abduct/kidnap people.



So why the different names?



My people, if you ask me, na who I go ask?



Is it not the blatant dishonesty that has shrouded the whole insecurity in the North at play?




When bandits are not criminals – Abiodun Kuforiji-Nkwocha



I do get that they do not want to call marauders (another name) Fulani Terrorists. This is however what the rest of Nigeria calls them.




They are bandits of course. But there is something about the word that doesn’t convey its seriousness.



In fact, the word terrorists is more befitting. The acts of war committed against Nigerians by these Northern terrorists (I have coined my own) have been heinous.



To catalogue every crime and victim over the last few years will tell us what we don’t like to say.




There is a war that has been waged on Nigeria. We cannot even say that Nigeria is winning the war. They seem to just keep them at bay sometimes.




This war was started by people from the Northern part of Nigeria. The people most affected are the Northerners. The battlegrounds are in the North.




How have the Northern leaders reacted to this?




During the regime of Goodluck Jonathan, Buhari said that;




‘‘An attack on Boko Haram is an attack on the North.”



This statement stunned me.



Was he saying that Boko Haram and the North are one and the same?



When bandits are not criminals – Abiodun Kuforiji-Nkwocha



In the last six years of his administration, we have seen not only a lot of battles, but we have seen this government forgive ‘repentant’ Boko Haram soldiers. We have seen pictures of them finely dressed in ceremonies celebrating their repentance.




But the victims have received no justice.



The victims have not been compensated.



The victims left alive are abandoned to carry on with their trauma.



Recently, we are hearing of huge amounts of money being paid to these terrorists to release hostages.



Huge amounts.



Zamfara State governor in trying to humanize terrorists said that not all of the bandits are criminals.



The kid’s gloves that they have decided to wear to address these killers is making me afraid. These ruthless men have devastated a whole region. They walk into a school with no conscience and pack up children. They even murdered boys in Buni Yadi. Till date, Leah Sharibu is in their lair. Zamfara State has suffered irreparable loss in the hands of these guys…



When bandits are not criminals – Abiodun Kuforiji-Nkwocha



Wait, which guys?



Boko Haram?






Unknown Gunmen?



Fulani Terrorists?



Northern Terrorists?






Bandits who are not criminals?



It is hard to distinguish again. We just know that they kill people. They kidnap people. They destroy villages and they abduct women and children.



But the same Northerners that are mostly affected are making excuses and forgiving them.






Recently, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi has been having lovely meetings and photo shoots with them. Telling them that it is Christian soldiers that they should go after and not innocent people. Apparently, Muslim soldiers do not attack them. He is negotiating the release of abductees for millions of naira.



When bandits are not criminals – Abiodun Kuforiji-Nkwocha



The government is quietly watching.




We are watching as well.




The North is so far from redemption it is scary.




If our government thinks that dining with and courting terrorists will broker peace; then it is obvious they do not want this whole thing to end.



When killers are forgiven.



When killers are paid money.




Can anyone have peace?




Do you think they will keep their guns and go back to being respectable human beings? When you say criminals are not criminals, what are you trying to do?




If you caught an Igbo bandit or kidnapper, will you not call them criminals?




We are watching real ‘feem’ here in Nigeria.




Stay safe, people.




COVID-19 is real.




Wash your hands







Avoid crowded places.



And pray….

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