Apart from imposing levies on those who did not flee from their villages due to incessant attacks by bandits, the bandits have now usurped power and have begun to appoint District Heads in those communities in Sokoto State, North-West Nigeria.
The police, however, denied the development and described the story as baseless and unfounded.
A native of one of the affected communities in the state, Idris Muhammad Gobir told the VOA Hausa Service in an interview, that as of now, the bandits have appointed 2 District Heads in the Sabon Birni zone of Sokoto state.
According to Idris, “yesterday the bandit’s leader celebrated the Maulud in Makwaruwa, where he declared himself the District Head.
“The event took place in the presence of the bona fide District Head.
“But when they asked if he had any objection, he, Dan Sani, paid allegiance to the bandit’s leader who usurped power .”
Similarly, “in Gangara town the bandits summoned a meeting which was attended by all the inhabitants and the bandits.
“They selected Dan Kwaro and he is now the District head of that town.”
“He was in the town on Thursday and ordered mosques to reopen. He directed that the inhabitants should stop going outside the town for prayers, that they should be performing their prayers in the town.”
“They control the local justice system and others. He ordered that markets be reopened next Tuesdays,” he said.
Another resident in the Eastern part of Sokoto, Bashir Altine Guyawa, told the VOA Hausa that even before the bandits appointed District Heads in the area, for long, they were in control in that zone and called the shots.
He said, “from Dama where there was an encounter between the bandits and security agents, up to Zango and Gatawa, the bandits are in total control in these areas and dictate daily affairs.”
” So even if they announced the appointment of District Heads or not, they’ve already established their presence and they are in control. So anybody who had traditional authority can no longer exercise that power, ” he said.
Commenting on the consequences of this development, a security expert, Detective Auwal Bala Durumi Iya, said the situation is capable of making the people lose hope on whether the government is capable of rescuing them from the clutches of these bandits.
” Secondly, they ( bandits )can be able to recruit from those who are not part of them, whether they like it or not.”
” Thirdly, this will show the world that the bandits are now strong enough to annex an area and impose their kind of authority,” he said.
The Nigeria Police, however, in a statement signed by the Sokoto Command‘s PPRO, ASP Sanusi Abubakar, said the investigation has revealed that the story was baseless.
The Command said it has taken stringent measures to unravel the source of the story, adding that there were plans under the Hadarin Daji by the military and police to launch an operation in those places inhabited by bandits, with a view to restoring law and order.