Three communities in Shinkafi Local Government, Zamfara State, have been forced to pay N3 million to a notorious banditry kingpin, known by the alias Dan Bokolo, to avoid being attacked, Newslodge has learnt.
The terrorist is believed to be angry with residents of Kamarawa, Sabuwar Kamarawa and Gebe communities for allegedly providing security agents with information used in the arrest of his brother, Abdullahi.
The payment of the protection fee goes against the position of the state governor, Dauda Lawal, who kept The state government would not dialogue with the terrorists.
Local sources told Newslodge that the terrorist’s brother, Abdullahi, was arrested at a market in the area when he was going to carry out a business transaction. It was alleged that some members of the community informed security officials about his whereabouts.
“That was the beginning of our problems,” a Kamarawa resident who requested anonymity told Newslodge. “Dan Bokolo was angry because he was told that it was people from any of these three communities who gave information that led to the arrest of his brother.”
The terrorist was planning to attack the communities when the area’s elders decided to approach him to reach a peace agreement.
“Our elders were able to convince some Fulani elders that Abdullahi was arrested by security agents and that no one from our community gave the information. He (Dan Bokolo) was convinced that our people did not “betray” his brother, but he still said that we must buy peace from him.
After a series of negotiations, terrorist Dan Bokolo agreed that the three villages should pay a fine of N3 million for denouncing his brother. He had originally asked for N6 million.
Peace advocate and human rights activist Basharu Guyawa said payment of protection tax has become a norm in Eastern Sokoto and Zamfara.
He said he spoke to several Kamarawa residents who told him that the communities had raised the money the terrorists demanded.
“Bello Turji [another notorious terrorist] He had to intervene so that Dan Bokolo would even listen to the people in the communities. The problem is how sure are we that he will keep his promise not to attack the area? Mr. Guyawa said.
Terrorists in the state and other areas, especially in Sokoto and Katsina, like to tax residents of local communities.
Last year, Newslodge exclusively reported how residents of 14 communities in Anka Local Government paid N19 million and provided a canoe to terrorists to avoid being attacked. The payment was also a tax that the terrorist demanded to allow agrarian communities to cultivate their farms. Terrorists have also forced several communities to pay millions of naira, as Newslodge documented in a month-long investigation. Zamfara governor reacts
Senior Special Assistant to the Zamfara Governor on Broadcasting and Public Affairs, Mustapha Jafaru, said the state government was not aware of the agreement and was not a party to it.
“We have always maintained that we will not engage in dialogue with terrorists in Zamfara State. Dauda (the governor) has always said that he would not negotiate with them because they are criminals. So, if the communities are arguing with bandits, we have nothing to do with that agreement and we are not part of it because that is not our style.
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“Since we came on board, we have been trying to limit the activities of these terrorists in different ways, but dialogue is not one of the ways we are pursuing. We will continue to protect the people of Zamfara State as we have been doing,” Jafaru said.
He said during the campaign, Lawal promised to address insecurity and has been doing so.
For more than a decade, terrorists have been operating in the northwestern part of the country. Their activities increased after the 2019 general elections, when they began attacking commuters on major roads in the region, especially the Abuja-Kaduna highway.
The intensity and frequency of their attacks on rural communities in the region increased. Livestock thefts, kidnappings and mass murders, sometimes of entire communities, were reported almost daily.