There is a trans-border movement of funds from Lagos, Agadez in Niger Republic and Libya for the purchase of arms for the prosecution of the ongoing killings in Zamfara State which have claimed no fewer than 3000 lives, Saturday Vanguard learned.
The funds, it was learned were proceeds of rustled cows from the state, which were often stolen by bandits, who have been terrorising the state in the last two years.
Saturday Vanguard got the revelations in a chat with suspected cattle rustlers, who were arrested by operatives of the Inspector General Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT, at the popular Abattoir Market in Agege, Lagos.
Tsafe, Zurmi, Shinkafi, Maradun
Vanguard gathered that operatives of the IRT, led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, were deployed to Zamafara State, by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to combat and put an end to the scourge of these bandits, who had in recent time killed hundreds of people within Tsafe, Zurmi, Shinkafi, Maradun, Maru and Brinin-Magaji, Local Government Areas of the state, leaving several others displaced. The team discovered that the military grade arms and ammunition, which the bandits have used in carrying out their operations, were purchased in Libya.
It was further gathered that the bandits, who were also into high profile kidnappings and armed robbery, were getting large funds from the proceeds of rustled cattle, which they supply to cattle dealers at the Abattoir Market in Agege area of Lagos State.
It was learned that when these funds are remitted back to the bandits in Zamfara State, they are swiftly moved into Agadez Region of Niger Republic, where it would be used to procure heavy arms including, anti-aircraft guns and rockets-propelled grenade launchers, from the black markets in Libya.
Sources disclosed that the arms which were usually smuggled into Zamfara State, through Niger Republic border with Nigeria, have been used severally to attack and kill security operatives.
It was gathered that on December 29, 2018, a team of soldiers on patrol along the Doburu Forest in Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamafara State, were ambushed with rocket-propelled grenades and over 10 soldiers lost their lives, while several others who sustained serious injuries were rushed to Zurimi General Hospital for treatment.
Ransom of N15million
On November 29, 2018, no fewer than 15 policemen, who were part of the anti-rustling team deployed to the state, were allegedly ambushed and killed by bandits who attacked them with Anti-aircraft guns mounted on Toyota Hilux trucks.
Vanguard gathered that the IRT, made a breakthrough in unraveling how the bandits procure their sophisticated weapons and how they equally source for funds to buy the weapons, following the arrest of 12 bandits who allegedly took part in the October 2018, kidnapping of twin sisters, Hassana and Hussaina Bala, who were abducted in Dauran Village in Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State, where they had gone to distribute their wedding invitation cards to their friends and relatives.
A ransom of N15million was paid before the girls were released. One of the suspects arrested in connection with the kidnapping, Nafiu Usman, alias Baba Doctor, who was a top commander of a group of bandits operating Zurmi Local Government Area of the State, however gave startling confessions, during interrogations on how his boss, Dankarimi, who commanded all armed bandits within, Zurmi, Local Government Area, have been procuring his arms and getting funds.
According to a source; “Baba Doctor who is a sub commander and has over 300 boys mostly from Niger Republic working for him confessed that his group which was headed by one Dankarimi was behind the kidnapping of the twin sisters and the N15 million received was shared among commanders working for Dankarimi. He said he got N500,000 to share with his boys. He also confessed that his group ambushed and killed a team of soldiers on patrol at the Doburu Forest on December 29, 2018, who he said they attacked with a rocket-propelled grenade.
Weapons from Libya
He confessed that he bought the weapons from Libya through Niger Republic and he identified one Alhaji Naira as the person who provided the funds they used to buy the arms. He said that all the sub-commanders on the orders of Dankarimi, who he said was living in the forest, would go around town rustling cows from their owners which they usually handed over to Alhaji Naria, who will, in turn, send to his waiting buyers in Lagos. The cows would then be sold and slaughtered at the Lagos Abattoir, Agege and they would return the money to Dankarimi”.
“He led us to arrest Alhaji naira, who then gave us the names of four of their receivers, known as Alhaji Ago Atine, Alawani Abubakar, Mohammed Shagari and Bashiru Aliyu, in Lagos state and we arrested them while they were selling some of the robbed cows to unsuspecting buyers”, the source said
When Vanguard interviewed the suspects who are natives of Zamfara State, they confessed, to have bought over 2,000 cows from the bandits within the space of one year, and they were equally aware that the cows were stolen from their owners and sold to them in Lagos State. They also admitted knowing that the people selling the cows to them were bandits terrorising Zamfara State.
Cows were stolen
50-year-old Alhaji Ago Atine, while speaking to Vanguard said; “I have received over 400 cows from Alhaji Naira from Zamfara State and I sell them at Abattoir Market, after which I will send back the money to Alhaji Naira. I accepted the cows from Alhaji Naira because they are usually sold to me at a cheap rate. I used to receive the cows between N60, 000 and N70,000 and I would sell them for N170,00 or N180,000 depending on the size.
I was receiving my supply weekly and after selling I would send the proceeds to Alhaji’s account. I don’t know what Alhaji does with the money, but I know that the cows were stolen from their owners in Zamfara State. I don’t know if they used the proceeds to wage war against the people of Zamfara”, he lamented.