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‘Dauda Lawal Dare, ittaqilLaha’

To the many who have seen the video of some Zamfara bandits, seeking negotiations with the state government last week, the phrase above will be…

To the many who have seen the video of some Zamfara bandits, seeking negotiations with the state government last week, the phrase above will be very familiar. 

It’s amazing how the bandits’ spokesman, who introduced himself as Mr Garba Ali, kept repeating this one line throughout his 4-minute-long speech.

“IttaqilLah” is an Arabic phrase which literally means “Fear Almighty God” or “Have the fear of God”. It’s a cautionary phrase used to urge Muslims to be conscious of Almighty Allah’s injunctions in whatever they are doing or are planning to do.

I couldn’t help saying to myself “Look who’s talking” when I heard the comical criminal voicing it.

I mean, does any bandit in Nigeria have the moral authority to ask anyone to fear The Almighty in the way they do things?

These are people who kill, who maim, who abduct women and marry by force, who raid whole towns and villages, who subject women and children to long walks in the jungle whenever they struck; in fact, these are people who do each and every one of the crimes Almighty Allah said we should not commit against fellow humans. And yet they are preaching to others?

Apparently, the whole video recording was caused by the onslaught against them by security forces in Zamfara State. In his worse-than-pidgin English, this bandit kingpin admitted that they were seeking negotiations because his beautiful house had been demolished through bombing just as some other locations used by them had equally been targeted.

At this point I said to myself Why didn’t past governors of Zamfara State think of the bombing tactic? Why did they allow these murderous gangsters to inflict so much pain and suffering, for over a decade, allowing them to commit so much bloodshed, render towns and villages uninhabitable when a few bombs from above could have stopped them?

It’s highly commendable that the young Governor Dauda Lawal has done what has effectively brought the bandits to their knees, in less than a year.

So now instead of quietly surrendering their arms and denouncing banditry, they have the audacity to demand a peace talk with the governor and to warn him to fear God in his dealings with them.

I don’t think anyone needs to tell the governor to totally ignore these murderous criminals and continue the bombing campaign against them.

They were merciless when they had the upper hand. Now that the military campaign is hitting them hard, they should be allowed to die as they lived; through violence.

The many people they killed, those they internally displaced, those they raped through forced and unsolemnised marriages are all crying for justice and the only way justice will be served is to kill these murderers and end their villainous trade.

Already, the menace has spread to neighbouring Katsina and Sokoto and to Niger State and Kaduna. But the original hotbed of banditry was Zamfara State before the others took a cue.

Recent reports showed that in the first quarter of this year alone, 2,583 Nigerians have been killed while 2,164 had been abducted through the activities of bandits.

How can what seems like a ragtag army of local criminals become such a formidable force that kills in thousands?

In my column piece of a few weeks ago titled ‘How do they get away with it?’, I wondered indeed how they get away with attacking, raiding, abducting and travelling long distances on foot or in trucks, without anyone being on their trail.

Whatever and however they do their trick, it seems the Zamfara State governor has cracked their code.

This is why the governors of all states affected by banditry should borrow a leaf from Dauda Lawal Dare and chase the bandits to their hideouts, as well as bomb the houses they own in town. This will render them helpless enough to surrender or get them wiped off the face of this Earth altogether.

For sure they deserve nothing less than the fate they inflicted on their victims.

This is why no one should listen to any appeals like the one Garba Ali has made in his video to the governor of Zamfara State.

These are heartless, merciless and greedy individuals, talking to them because they are at the losing end now, is like giving them a chance to rise again.

They must never get it.


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