Niger Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello says bandits are now working in concert with terrorists to wreak havoc in the North-Central state.
“We want to believe we are dealing with some terrorist elements who have decided to have some kind of alliance with bandits for whatever reasons,” Mr Bello told journalists on Saturday after visiting Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida Specialist Hospital to see some soldiers injured in a bandits attack at Shiroro Local Government Area.
Mr Bello further said “We have every reason to believe we are not dealing with just bandits and with the latest operations and the way they coordinate their attacks, it confirms that they must have some kind of training.”
Niger State has become a new haven for bandits and terrorists, who have been coordinating deadly attacks and mass abductions recently.
Mr Bello’s new position on banditry in his state comes few months after he advocated for welfare and care for them, saying they are tired of terrorising the country.
In February, when he visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House over mass abduction of students of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger, Mr Bello said “I also understand some of these bandits are tired, they need to be looked after, they need to be engaged, they need to be trained.”
On Saturday, Suleiman Chikuba, the chairman of Shiroro Local Government in Niger disclosed that close to 500 communities under his watch have been occupied by the terrorists.
Mr Chikuba said; “As the Chairman of Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, I can tell you that Shiroro is not only dealing with the issue of banditry, Shiroro has a lot of Boko Haram, I have proof of this as the chairman. Boko Haram has proclaimed that they do not want conventional primary and secondary schools, their only preference is the Islamic school.”
Before now, spokesperson to the President Femi Adesina dismissed banditry and insecurity as works of those “playing up” insecurity to rubbish Mr Buhari’s achievements.