Olaleye Aluko, Adeniyi Olugbemi and Olaide Oyelude
A suspected leader of the bandits responsible for the killings in Zamfara State has vowed that there will be more killings in the state as long as the Federal Government continues to deploy military and other security forces in the troubled area.
He made this known during a secret conversation with an emir in Zamfara State, a copy of the recording was obtained exclusively by Saturday PUNCH.
In the secret tape, the bandit opposed the deployment of troops in their communities, saying it would worsen the crisis.
The supspect, who spoke with the emir in Hausa, in the secret recording obtained from a top military source at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, argued that peace would not reign when “you call the police, soldiers and law enforcement agents to our villages; it will continue to cause more bloodshed”.
Although the military source alleged that the emir in the audio is from Zurmi, one of the troubled local government areas in the state, the name of the emir was not mentioned throughout the recording.
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, through his Public Relations Officer, Col Tukur Gusau, on Sunday said the Federal Government had some security reports on some community leaders linked to the bandits killing people in the state.
The ministry said the reports “could not be divulged to the public”, noting that the earlier statement by Dan-Ali on some traditional rulers aiding bandits should not be seen as derogatory but as a warning.
But traditional rulers in the state, under the Zamfara State Council of Chiefs, last week told the military to name the monarchs aiding the gangsters.
They also claimed that the Nigerian Air Force fighter jets bombed innocent civilians in their villages instead of the bandits.
On Wednesday, the traditional rulers released the names of “11 innocent civilians who were killed in air strikes on Dumburum community in Zurmi Local Government Area of the state on April 9”.
They listed the victims as Daji Barau, Na Bumburum, Suwaiba Alka, Yar Guru, Maryam Shafiu, Dahe Sule, Dan Kurma, Zaliha Dumburum, Aisha Akilu, Alamin Alka and Fati Gum.
The monarchs through the Emir of Bungudu, Alhaji Hassan Attahiru, had called for an independent investigation into the matter to verify their claims.
But the NAF on Thursday denied the claims, saying the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, had constituted a panel to investigate the monarch’s claims.
Meanwhile, in the secret recording of a dialogue between the bandit leader and the emir, they advocated a peace meeting between village residents and herders or people hiding in the bushes.
The bandit said in Hausa, “God has already given you a position (as an emir) and when you talk, people listen. You have some poor masses in the bushes. This violence started happening in our state about six years ago or so.
“They killed my people, they killed my relations, they killed my wives, my children. They killed some of my cows. I ran away when they killed my people. Then I involved myself in the activities of these terrorist groups. Now, I have escaped and back in my community. Will you not accept me as a member of this community?”