Ado Aleru, one of the most feared leaders of the bandits operating in northern Nigeria, has revealed the main reason why they attack rural communities.
He said attacking rural communities is a way of demonstrating their grievances against the government.
According to a BBC Hausa report, over 30,000 bandits are now spreading to other neighbouring states from Aleru’s Zamfara State.
One of his associates said that they, the Fulanis, are no longer being treated as if they were important in Nigeria and lamented the lack of grazing areas for their cattle which he alleged have been taken over by farmers.
He also said many of their cattle grazing near the railway lines are being killed by trains.
But Aleru said he has never kidnapped anyone or participated in any of such act.
”I myself, I’ve never kidnapped. But the boys do, not me,” he said. “Mine is just to go and shoot them. Truly, I cannot count the number of those vigilantes that I’ve killed. To tell the truth, I don’t know the number of those that I killed now.”
Also speaking to the BBC, another bandit, Abu Sani, said he was the mastermind of the kidnapping of female students in a girls’ boarding school at Jengebe.
He said during the dry season the government was sending troops after them, so they decided to kidnap the Jengebe students so as to humiliate the government.
They attacked the school because the government was not allowing them to stay in their homes, he said, adding that even though they had apologized, embarking on such missions never bothered them one bit.
In Zamfara State alone, where over one million people have been displaced from their homes, kidnapping for ransom has become a big business.
Abu Sani said they had earlier demanded for N200 million ransom before they would release the Jengebe female students.
“But they asked some people to plead with us and we collected N60 million. We used the money to buy more arms,” he said.
Although the Government of Zamfara State denied paying any ransom, Sani insisted that ”they paid N60 million. I collected the money with my own hands. We bought more guns with the money.”