As terrorism has continued to gain foothold in Nigeria casting vast swaths of the country into the peculiar kind of darkness that only ruthless, lawless non-state actors can brew, some especially lethal lynchpins of terrorism in Nigeria have emerged and in just under a few years have grown so lethal that they hold entire communities in the country to ransom with their words carrying the weight of the most draconian of laws.
These men control enclaves of terror. When they snap their fingers, foot soldiers of death and destruction scurry around to do their bidding. At the behest of such men, many communities have been reduced to heaps of cold ashes; many families have been decimated, and once bubbling economic nerve centers have been reduced to ghost towns.
Because these men and the agents of death they command are nearer to the communities they routinely attack than Nigeria`s security forces who are responsible for repelling and forestalling such attacks, they practically control those communities. They impose taxes that already impoverished communities have no option but to cough out. Their modus operandi has been to run quasi-governments in such terrified communities.
It is stating the obvious to say that the communities that quake at their presence and have to put up with all manner of atrocities so as not to draw their wrath feel abandoned by Nigeria.
The men that would not be masked.
For years, some of these men have remained faceless, hiding behind masks and aliases to broadcast their messages of terror. However, as the weaknesses of Nigeria`s fragile counterterrorism efforts have come to be routinely exposed in the last few years, many of these men have grown bolder, putting themselves about, and willing that their names and faces travel just as far as their chilling messages of death and destruction.
On Saturday July 16,2022, after days during which it was public knowledge that Birnin Yandoto Emirate Council in Tsafe Local Government Area of Zamfara State was making elaborate plans to honour Ada Aleru a well-known bandit warlord with a chieftaincy title, the well-publicized and well attended occasion came to pass.
Amidst a national outcry against such an honour for someone wanted so badly for massacres in the state and neighbouring Katsina State, the state government suspended the emir of Birnin- Yandoto. Yet, Adamu Aleru is yet to be arrested, prosecuted or incarcerated.
He remains a free man in a state that has not known a moment of respite because of the activities of terrorists in the last few years.
With the way and manner the coronation was planned and publicized the state government and the security agencies within the state could not have remained ignorant of the occasion. If they were inclined to, they could have swooped and arrested him. But they did not.
Another one of such men all within Zamfara State is Bello Turji, a terrorist who is supposedly repented. A few weeks ago, while he was attending a wedding ceremony in Shinkafi area of the state in company of a bevy of bandits, an air raid conducted by the Nigerian Airforce(NAF) at his camp left many dead.
He has since spoken out about his frustrations over the attacks especially given that he has since accepted to abandon banditry with no fresh attacks recorded in the area where he once operated in the last five months.
Some of the men who have been terrorizing innocent communities in Zamfara State may have accepted to abandon banditry and give peace a chance, but who is to account for all their iniquitous crimes and who is to tell that they no longer have a hand in the heinous attacks which continue to convulse vulnerable communities in Zamfara State as well as in neighbouring states?
As long as these questions remain unanswered, such men as Aleru and Turji must be considered as tumors to be excised. With them and their armies of extermination out there, peace does not stand a chance.