Aminu Bello Masari

Nigeria terrorized by armed motorcycle bandits

Northern Nigeria is being terrorized by kidnaping groups who operate boldly in communities on their motorcycles. The kidnap for ransom industry is very lucrative and it's gowing in the state of Katsina, home state of the country's president.

  • According to the International Crisis Group more than 8,000 people have been killed over the past ten years in the several Nigerian states.
  • The recent attacks in Katsina left more than 100 deaths between April and June.
  • Protestors are requesting President Muhammadu Buhari resign. 
  • Governor Aminu Bello Masari, of Katgsina state, tried to negotiate in 2019 with these criminal groups. Check out the video below for more on the negotiation.

It's not just the kidnapping, the bandits are also targeting villagers who receive food donations from the government during COVID-19 lockdown. An eyewitness told BBC there was an estimate of 200 bikers. Each motorcycle had a passenger and they all carried AK47 guns. The same eyewitness hid on top of a tree as the bandits looted stores, stole cattle and grains and shot people who ran away.

The video below date from April 2020, but attacks continue and Katsina's insecurity and fear is on the rise.

It's believed the attacks have their roots in old conflicts between ethnic Fulani herders and farming communities over land resources. Due to massive deforestation caused by the Sahara Desert, arable farming land has disappeared and both sides have formed armed groups called "vigilantes" for self protection. Herders are turning to kidnap because they say it's more lucrative. "The biggest cow would go for 200,000 naira but one kidnapping would fetch millions," said security analyst Dr. Kabiru Adamu.

Pastoral farming is the main source of income for the Fulani herders. Photocredit: @fulbe_afric

However, Fulani herders deny accusations and say they are the ones most affected by the situation stating that hundreds of their members have been kidnapped. National secretary Baba Othman Ngelzarma said it's "foreign herders from neighbouring countries" perpetrating the attacks in Northern Nigeria.

Kidnaps for ransom in Nigeria can go from $20 to $200,000 for their freedom. The police head of a special unit fighting kidnappers, Abba Kyari, said that during 2017 and 2018 the route that connects the capital Abuja in Central Nigeria to North-West Kaduna had 10 kidnappings per day and there were 20 different groups operating.

Estefanía Martínez

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