THE ADVERSE EFFECT OF BANDITRY ON NIGERIAS DEVELOPMENT
AND THE POSSIBLE WAYS FORWARD
Analytical Publishers Hub
2nd October, 2022
Globally, the development of nations is predicated on the prevailing level of peace and security. This is premised on the fact that with peace and security, nations could achieve economic development. However, there are various factors that undermine the attainment of economic development in a society. These factors include social vices and crimes that are committed by criminals either within the society or from across regional borders. One of such vices and crimes is banditry.
Merriam Webster dictionary, defines the term ‘Bandit’ to mean an outlaw who lives by plunder; especially a member of a band of marauders. Wikipedia defines banditry as “a type of organized crime committed by outlaws typically involving the threat or use of violence. A person who engages in banditry is known as a bandit and primarily commits crimes such as extortion, robbery, and murder, either as an individual or in groups. Banditry is a vague concept of criminality and in modern usage can be synonymous for gangsterism, brigandage, marauding, and thievery.” Also, Pallipedia defines development as the process of providing the conditions that offer opportunities for improving the quality of human life in a community; including improvements in food, housing, education, employment, sanitation, environmental protection, and health services. Furthermore, according to Oxford Languages, Effect means a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause. The adverse effect of banditry on the development of any nation cannot be overemphasized. It is at this backdrop that this article is to discuss the undeniable effect of banditry on Nigeria’s development with the view to making recommendations.
Banditry in Nigeria
Banditry violence is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria. The history of banditry in Nigeria can be traced to pre-civil war period when government deteriorated in certain parts of the old Western region resulting in political violence, crime and organised insurgency (Chidi 2018). Recently, in the Northwest area of Nigeria particularly in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Niger, Kaduna and Kebbi States, the activities of Bandits have been particularly worrisome. The activities of these bandits range from kidnapping to murder, robbery, rape, cattle-rustling, and the likes. Their modus operandi involves maiming and killing their victims when they least expect. Usually, they mobilized themselves through the forests into the neighborhood riding on fast motorcycles especially in the nights and shoot at will. Sometimes in the afternoon, once they were sure there were no security presence of the police or military around, they unleash terror in the communities.
This growing threat is claiming victims in hundreds. Several children have been orphaned and women became widows overnight while the issue of food security as well as humanitarian tragedy will further make life unbearable for many Nigerians.
The facts are scary. While about “1,100 people were murdered in 2018 in the six states of North west Nigeria in 2018, over 2,200 were killed in 2019 and 1,600 killed between January and June 2020”(ACAPS, 2020). About 247,000 people had been displaced while their activities alone have led to the production of more than 41,000 refugees. In Zamfara alone, over 8000 people have been murdered in the last decade, 200,000 displaced internally and others fleeing to neighbouring states (ICGP Report, 2020). The situation is so porous already that the religious leader and Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar opined that “Bandits now move in the North from house to house with AK47 and lamented that the region had become the worst place to live in Nigeria…”Onyebuchi (2020) In Sokoto, more than 250 people have been killed in about 20 attacks, Rakiya (2020) just to mention but few.
It is important to note that the newest Northwest conflict started because of fight over depleting lands and water resources between the farmers and the herdsmen with the farmers belonging mostly to the Hausa people and the herdsmen being predominantly Fulani (ICG Report, 2020) As a consequence, there has been massive deforestation because of the impact of the Sahara Desert spreading south (Nduka, 2020).
Also, in an area where poverty is deeply rooted and illiteracy extremely high, rearing cattle is the preoccupation of many Fulani’. Thus, whenever this source of livelihood is threatened, whether by nature or human intervention, they are willing to do anything to survive. In addition, there is the problem of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the area, inequality and as John Campbell puts it, “weakened, stretched and demoralized security services. John (2020) There are also problems of failure of local justice and ethnic division as well as uncoordinated and under policed borders (Emmanuel, 2020). Indeed, in recent history, banditry also became the order of the day because of government’s inability to protect lives and property as well as failure to put the welfare of the people first.
Government has responded at both state and federal level. The initial reaction was the bombardments of the various abodes of the bandits by the military and police under different code names, but this did not yield much significant result (Emmanuel, 2020). The state governments have also tried to negotiate and give amnesty to repentant bandits. While this initially worked, the result did not last.
There are salient reasons why government interventions are not yielding fruit till date. A major factor is the topography of the area. The terrain is such that security presence is virtually unavailable for most people in the area particularly, those living in remote areas. It takes hours sometimes for security personnel to respond to distress calls of victims (WANEP, 2020). This is further propelled by the massive forests surrounding the areas which are shielding the bandits from being easily captured especially as they make use of forests such as the Falgore, Kamara, Kunduma, Subudu, Kamuku and Kiyanbana forests. This makes it difficult for the military to secure the lives and property of the people residing in the areas especially without modern technology systems. So, what is the way forward?
The Nigerian government has complained about not having adequate modern equipment to give to her security personnel to work and had appealed to the international community to help in this regard. Fighting terrorism or banditry is not a tea party. Government must be proactive and partner with affected communities to bring a lasting solution to it. How do these bandits’ source for guns and tools to fight with? Where are they hiding? How do they access finance? Do they have records that can be accessed? Is it possible to trace their roots and linkage? How can information leakage among security personnel’s or civilians partnering with them be reduced? Answers to these questions will show that the threats of bandits can be reduced if not nullified.
Civil-military cooperation is a necessity and infrastructural development is a must even to rural dwellers as well as access to communication, police presence and protection. Not only these, the vigilantes that have been formed in the various communities in the north to combat the activities of these bandits must also be professionally trained and well organised by the government to work better and aid their communities. Movement of small arms and light ammunitions through the porous borders must be checked in cooperation with other countries in the region but ultimately, poverty must be drastically reduced, and providing good education to all citizens must become the priority of the government.
Conclusively, the inability of government to provide good governance to the people leads to armed banditry in Nigeria. There is the need for government to realistically and comprehensively address the issue of corruption and poor governance. This could discourage the people from joining banditry groups. Rivalry among security agencies has been a challenge of combating banditry for economic development in Nigeria. Security agencies have over the years been engulfed in unhealthy rivalries, equipment inventory to the standard of advanced countries. These enhanced fighting aids could contribute to security effort at mitigating banditry.
It is recommended that:
Government should address the issue of corruption and poor governance by providing the basic need of the people.
Government should provide adequate security in and around the schools.
The FGN through Defence Headquarters should upgrade the vehicles holding for each of the units to standard unit scale.
Creating jobs for Nigerians, especially the youth, is a solution to the banditry challenges in Nigeria, as most of them are unemployed.
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