Nigerian bandit conflict
|Nigerian bandit conflict|
|Part of Herder–farmer conflicts in Nigeria|
|Commanders and leaders|
Muhammadu Buhari |
LTG Farouk Yahaya
LTG Tukur Yusuf Buratai
Maj Gen Adeniyi Oyebade
Maj Gen Aminu Bande
Air Mshl Sadique Abubakar
Maj Gen Hussein Ahmed †
Kachalla Halilu |
Mani Na Saleh
Adamu Aliero Yankuzo
Abubakar Ali (POW)
Jack Bros Yellow (POW)
Goma Sama’ila (POW)
Dan Karami (WIA)
Auwalun Daudawa †
Alhaji Karki †
Buharin Daji †
Other local commanders
|Unknown||30,000+ Zamfara State|
|Casualties and losses|
1 Alpha Jet
450,000 people displaced
The bandit conflict in northwest Nigeria is an ongoing conflict between the country's government and various gangs and ethnic militias. Starting in 2011, the insecurity left from the conflict between the Fulani and Hausa ethnic groups quickly allowed other criminal and jihadist elements to form in the region.
The origins of the bandit conflict can be traced back to herder-farmer conflicts that plague Nigeria. Environmental decline and the scarcity of water and arable land led to communities competing viciously for those limited resources. Unemployment, large-scale poverty and weak local government have allowed for a steady stream of desperate people turning to criminal activity to earn a living. Large forested areas allowed for concealment and the formation of camps deep in the forest. Unequipped police and military personnel are unable to reach these forested areas.
Continued insecurity, desertification, and possible jihadist influence have allowed for a rise in attacks to take place. Large-scale weapon smuggling has allowed criminal gangs access to heavy weapons, increasing the deadliness of attacks. Underequipped local and federal forces coupled with the harsh terrain make offensive actions into the forest dangerous and susceptible to ambushes and attacks. Continued government inability to effectively deal with the problem has allowed the insecurity to spread and grow in ferocity.
Bandits in Nigeria engage in multiple ways to earn money. Bandits ride into towns and villages on motorcycles and loot and kidnap anyone they see; anyone resisting will be killed. Kidnapping is a very profitable venture in northwest Nigeria. A cow in Nigeria can fetch 200,000 Nigerian naira while one kidnapping can get millions of naira. Between 2011 and 2020 Nigerians had to pay at least 18 million to free family members and friends.
Illegal arms are very prevalent in north-west Nigeria, bandit gangs control gold mines, the gold from which they then trade-in for arms from internal and international arms dealers. There are an estimated 60,000 illegal weapons in circulation in northwest Nigeria. The border of northern Nigerian is undefended with only 1,950 personnel to police the whole border, making it easy for smuggling across the border.
In Zamfara state alone there are over 30,000 bandits and 100 camps.
Ali Kachalla is a bandit leader in his early thirties who was born in a small town called Madada near Dansadau. Ali Kachalla controls a bandit group numbering about 200 in the kuyambana forest. Ali Kachalla's main base of operations consists of about a couple of huts along the Goron Dutse river about 25 km south of Dansadau. Ali Kachalla's gang directly controls the villages of Dandalla, Madada, and Gobirawa Kwacha where he launches attacks on Dansadau and other neighboring communities from. Ali Kachalla's gang is allied with Dogo Gide's nomadic gang.
Ali Kachalla's gang has carried out numerous attacks most notably shooting down a Nigerian Air Force alpha Jet on 18 June 2021 and destroying a Mowag Piranha armored personnel carrier in Dansadau on July 23, 2021. Ali Kachalla's gang has suffered defeats, most notably losing 30 men in a battle with an Ansaru cell.
Dogo Gide, real name Abubakar Abdullahi is the leader of a Bandit group near Dansadau. He is from Maru local government, in his forties, married, and has children. He is most known for killing bandit leader Buharin Daji by tricking him into a meeting for peace between their two gangs, He then killed Daji and 24 other gang members. He also killed a rival bandit leader named Damina after Damina attacked villages under his control.
Kachalla Halilu Sububu Seno
Kachalla Halilu Sububu Seno is the leader of a Fulani Bandit group. He commands over 1,000 bandits in the Sububu Forest across Zamfara State and has connections to bandit groups across the west African countries of Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic. two years ago Kachalla Halilu Sububu Seno signed a peace treaty with the city of Shinkafi but Kachalla Halilu shifted his activities elsewhere.
Kachalla Turji also known as Gudda Turji is the leader of a Bandit group that operates along Sokoto Road, raiding towns, villages, and settlements in the area. On 17 July 2021 Kachalla Turji's main base was raided by security personnel where they arrested his father. Kachalla Turji then attacked the villages of Kurya, Keta, Kware, Badarawa, Marisuwa, and Maberaya killing 42, abducting 150, and burning 338 houses.
Dan Karami is the leader of a bandit gang that operates around Safana, Dan Musa, and Batsari Local Government Areas. Dan Karami's group is most known for being one of the groups responsible for kidnapping 300 students from a secondary boarding school. On January 23, 2021, Dan Karami was injured during a clash with a rival group headed by Mani Na Saleh Mai Dan Doki over the control of guns, ammunition, and stolen cattle. The clash took place at Illela village and killed 20 of Dan Karami's bandits and nine civilians.
Adamu Aliero Yankuzo
Adamu Aliero Yankuzo better known as Yankuzo is the leader of a bandit group that operates in the forested regions of Katsina and Zamfara states. He controls a bandit group numbering around 2,000 personnel. Yankuzo is 45 years old and was born in Yankuzo village, Yankuzo has at least one son. On June 16, 2020, Yankuzo was declared wanted by the Katsina State Police Command for 5 million Nigerian naira. Yankuzo's gang has carried out a number of attacks, one of his more notable attacks were killing 52 people in Kadisau village in revenge for the arrest of his son on June 9, 2020.
ISWAP and Boko Haram have both claimed to have carried out attacks in northwest Nigeria and even some bandit groups have claimed to have formed alliances with the Jihadist groups. Supporting these claims was a phone call was that intercepted by US intelligence in October 2021, the phone call, between an unnamed Jihadist group and a bandit group, discussed kidnapping operations and negotiations between the two groups.
Boko Haram has also been speculated to have sent specialized personnel including bomb makers, and military advisors as well as military equipment in Kaduna state to train and equip their bandit groups' allies.
Ansaru, a Jihadist group linked with al Qaeda, has been speculated to have been operating in Kaduna state. After going silent in 2013, Ansaru has begun attacking Nigerian military and police personnel and infrastructure, including ambushing a Nigerian military convoy on 15 January 2020 which the Nigerian military claims killed six soldiers but Anasru claims killed 22 soldiers.
At least 247,000 people have been displaced and 120 villages have been razed in continuing bandit activity in north-west Nigeria. At least 77,000 of the displaced have been forced into Niger's Maradi Region where cross border raids and attacks continue. At least 11,320 refugees have been successfully relocated.
Nigerian government operations
Operation Harbin Kunama
On 8 July 2016, president Muhammadu Buhari announced that the Nigerian military will launch a military operation code-named Operation Harbin Kunama, the military operation would be carried out by the 223 armored battalion of the 1 Mechanised Division. The Military Operation targeted bandit groups in the Dansadau forest. In the days before the announcement, convoys carried new military equipment into Zamfara state including Tanks and AFVs. The first military operations would be carried out days later.
Operation Sharan Daji
Starting sometime in early 2016, Operation Sharan Daji was a Military operation carried out by the Nigerian military aimed at destroying bandits in northwest Nigeria. The OPeration was conducted by 31 Artillery Brigade and 2 Battalion of the first 1 Mechanised Division. By March 2016, 35 Bandits were killed, 36 guns were seized, 6,009 cattle were recovered, 49 bandit camps were destroyed, and 38 Bandits were captured.
On June 5, 2020, the Nigerian military launched operation Accord, the operation established a Joint Task Force of vigilantes and troops of the 312 Artillery Regiment. An air and ground offensive was launched the same day the operation was announced killing over 70 bandits. The Operation led to the destruction of multiple bandit camps including a camp belonging to Ansaru.
Major bandit attacks
- 24–25 February, February 2021 Kaduna and Katsina attacks
- 26 February, Zamfara kidnapping
- 11 March, Afaka kidnapping
- 20 April, Greenfield University kidnapping
- 3 June, 2021 Kebbi massacre
- 11–12 June, Zurmi massacre
- 14 June, Kebbi kidnapping
- 5 July, Chikun kidnapping