The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu has said an investigation revealed that most of the bandits in the country are foreigners.
Adamu disclosed this while speaking at a town-hall meeting on peace and security which held on Wednesday at the headquarters of Zuru local government in Kebbi state.
He said it was discovered that most of them are members of the Islamic State of West Africa, adding that the issue is a “big one”.
He explained that banditry in the northern region has an “international dimension”.
The IGP said “We have realised that most of the banditry has an international dimension. The bandits come from outside the country. We arrested Sudanese, Nigeriens and Malians, among other nationals.
“We also believe that because of what is happening in the north-east and the fact that the military troops are doing a great job in the fight against insurgency there, most of the bandits are running toward the north-west of the country and we have evidence.
“When we operated in Kaduna, Birnin Gwari, where we attacked a group of bandits, we realised that most of them came from Islamic State of West Africa, who are terrorists, kidnapping for ransom.
“So, the issue is not at the level you are looking at it, it is a big issue and we must work together to address it.”
Adamu also disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari is serious about the fight against insecurity and urged every Nigerian to see it as a collective responsibility.
He explained how during a briefing with the president, the issue of insecurity was seriously discussed as it affects the north-west in particular and they also noticed an emerging trend from Zuru emirate.
“The president ordered us to move to Zuru and listen to the stakeholders and come up with a solution on how to bring lasting peace in Zuru emirate and that’s why we are here,” the IGP added.
Adamu also reiterated the need for citizens to provide reliable and intelligent information about suspicious elements in society to security agencies.
He said that security operatives have found that insecurity is fueled by the activities of “Yan Sa Kai” (local vigilantes), who went out of control because of lack of command in Zamfara and Katsina states.
His words, “What fueled insecurity in terms of banditry in Zamfara is what is fueling insecurity in Katsina and invariably the same here in Kebbi State.
“When the situation was so bad in Zamfara, we brought all the stakeholders and, in another development, we met with all the governors from the north-west to Katsina.
“A lot was discussed and we realised that Zamfara’s situation was caused by the problem of “Yan Sa Kai”. This is because there was no control of command of the activities of Yan Sa Kai.
“When we moved to Katsina state we wanted to know what had been fueling the banditry and reprisal attacks.
“Again, it was the activities of Yan Sa Kai because they organised themselves genuinely to protect their environment, their communities and their families but there was no command of control, so they went out of control and that is what is happening now in Kebbi state.”
He added his administration would continue to support all efforts in making the state a peaceful environment for all, stressed that, with the high number of important personalities in the Emirate, the insecurity issue ought to have been addressed without the intervention, visit of IGP.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Yan Sakai, Mr Mani J. Giwa told the IGP, Governor and other guests that his sociocultural group is not like armed Bandits who will just attack the whole community killing women, children and the elderly, raping, rustling cattle, burning houses and carting away with foodstuffs and other valuable items.
He said Yan Sakai only engage criminals in the battle, arrest their collaborators and informants that live within the society providing them with intelligence and logistics to carry out their criminal acts successfully.
“The general public should understand that these gangs of armed bandits, kidnappers or crime syndicates have targeted some successful businessmen, retired top civil servants or politicians in Zuru Emirate to be kidnapped and taking hostage for ransom, it was the emergence of Yan Sakai that forced them to abandon their targets and run into hiding,” Giwa said.
The Yan Sa Kai chairman added that all the kidnappers and armed bandits they arrested and handover to the police have been released back to the society, stressing that, some of their vigilante members arrested are still under detention in Birnin Kebbi.
He noted that they have documented some crimes and atrocities by these armed Bandits where they killed many, made hundreds orphans and widows and have displaced thousands.