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HomeIn-DepthBomb-Weary Bandits Looking Worn Out and Desperate: Freed Hostage

Bomb-Weary Bandits Looking Worn Out and Desperate: Freed Hostage

Map of northwestern Kaduna State showing forest area where kidnappers HELD hostages near the town of Giwa, 15 miles northwest of Zaria. Credit: Luka Binniyat.
Map of northwestern Kaduna State showing forest area where kidnappers HELD hostages near the town of Giwa, 15 miles northwest of Zaria. Credit: Luka Binniyat.

By Luka Binniyat and Mike Odeh

(Kaduna) They are known for roaring into town on clouds of dust, smoking dope and swaggering down main street. But after months of hearing bombers scream across their forests, their faces pressed into dry dust and then spending hours burying the corpses of mangled colleagues, they are singing a different tune.

“We are tired of living like animals in the bush. Time to talk.”  That’s what the bandits are saying now, according to a freed hostage, Ademola Tajudeen, who spoke to TruthNigeria Thursday in an exclusive chat. Tajudeen spent 37 days in a bandit camp in Giwa County in Kaduna state, about 40 miles North of Kaduna, where he observed bandits looking worn out from steady bombardments of the Nigeria Air Force jets.

In a shocking turn of events, a terrorist and kidnapping kingpin, Garba Musa Aminu, uploaded his own video appealing for a ceasefire between his group and the Zamfara state government. This is coming after devastating losses to his band, currently standing at 45 riflemen.

TruthNigeria has learned that Musa’s appeal may be a desperate attempt to save his own skin as Nigerian Air Force, and army troops, allied with the Community Protection Guards, have battered the terrorists, killing scores daily.

‘We were beaten three times a day’

Tajudeen, a self-employed tradesman in Gonin Gora, a suburb of Kaduna, was kidnapped after he went to pay ransom to free the wife and two sons of his friend who had been kidnapped on February 10, 2024. Tajudeen paid the ransom and was taken to a forest near Sabon Sara village in Giwa County, TruthNigeria was told exclusively.

“While being chained hands and feet by motorcycle wheel chains, I heard all the conversations of the bandits who were mainly Fulani herdsmen,” he told TruthNigeria Nigeria in Kaduna yesterday.

“They said that they are tired of living like animals in the bush, and that they will be happy if government can forgive them so that they return home,” he said.

“They look very tired and worn out. And they said that they miss home and normal life.

“We survived the bombing by the special graces of God,” he said.

“They are always very afraid each time the Nigeria Air Force bombards the camps in that area,” he said.

“They’d run into the bush and hide, leaving us alone,” he said.

“We would later hear them talking about their colleagues who had been killed or injured in the attack, and they will be very violent at us, blaming us for their woes,” he said.

“They are ready to lay down their arms if they have assurance that no harm will happen to them,” he said.

“They have harmed so many people, and they are afraid of what will happen to them if they just surrender without any assurance of protection and amnesty,” he added.

“Some of them said that they went into kidnapping after the military attacked their villages, destroyed everything and rendered them penniless,” he said.

“They are very violent,” he added. We endured three rounds of savage beatings every day in their desperate move to make us convince our families to raise the ransom for our freedom quickly as they were afraid that they may soon be bombed while keeping us in the camp,” he said.

After 37 days in the bandit camp, money was raised for their ransom and Tajudeen and other hostages were eventually released.

Frequent Bombing Humbles Terrorists

The Federal Government has given the military a clear directive to eliminate terrorist leaders and their followers, and the results are astounding.  For example, between January and March 2024, more than 12 terrorist kingpins have been killed, most of them in Zamfara State, where local farmers paid about US$10 million dollars to terrorist-bandits in 2023 for the privilege of cultivating their own plots, as TruthNigeria has exclusively reported.

The list of eliminated terror leaders eliminated in last month according to Major Gen. Edward Buba, Director Defence Media Operations include: 

  • 1. Abu Bilal Minuki (aka Abubakar Mainok) – Head of Islamic State Al Furqan Province
  • 2. Haruna Isiya Boderi
  • 3. Kachallah [“boss”] Damina, killed March 24, along with 50 combatants
  • 4. Kachallah Alhaji Dayi
  • 5. Kachallah Idi (Namaidaro)
  • 6. Kachallah Kabiru (Doka)
  • 7. Kachallah Azarailu (Farin-Ruwa)
  • 8. Kachallah Balejo
  • 9. Ubangida
  • 10. Alhaji Baldu
  • 11. Shuaibu Danlukutus (bandit kingpin) – killed on April 24, 2024

According to Maj. Gen Buba, 2,351 terrorists were killed, 2,308 were arrested, and 1,241 kidnapped hostages were rescued between January and March this year.

However, conflict reporter Gambo Abubakar, who has been on the ground in Zamfara, believes the actual number of terrorists eliminated is much higher.

“If you consider the figures, in the past six months, Nigeria’s security forces may have eliminated or killed over 10,000 terrorists,” Abubakar said.

The military’s onslaught has left the terrorists reeling, and their leaders are crying out for a ceasefire.

According to the video of Musa obtained by Truth Nigeria, Garba Musa spoke in a smattering of English mixed with Hausa, as his gang members listened on.

According to Musa, a peace deal has become necessary to save lives and allow Governor Dauda Lawal Dare of Zamfara to run Zamfara State unencumbered by security issues.

“I need to send a message to Dr. Dauda Lawal Dare,” Garba said.

“As of today, we need to co-exist peacefully in Zamfara State. The continuous conflict will not give us the desire for peace for development.

“Looking at history, you can tell that negotiations are critical. The military attacked, and our cattle were taken away after the destruction of our houses. This is not a good thing,” he said.

“The government can achieve peace through negotiations. Attacks and counter attacks through violence that lead to deaths are not good.

“Not all Fulani are criminals. We are nomadic Fulani who want peace. The government should listen to our grievances, please,” the bandit boss pleaded.

—Luka Binniyat and Mike Odeh are conflict reporters who write for Truth Nigeria from Kaduna.

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