The recent directive by the Chief of Army
Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, ordering his men to flush out the
bandits terrorising communities in Birnin Gwari Local Government
Area of Kaduna State, seems to have made the hoodlums more
On May 14, 2018, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur
Buratai ordered troops to flush out bandits terrorising communities
in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State, within
The directives, coming from the Army Chief came as a great relief
to the people of the area who have been living under a reign of
Like other parts of the country, Birnin Gwari has been under
constant attacks by gunmen leading to so much bloodshed,
abductions and destruction of property.
However, about two weeks after Buratai’s directives, nothing much
seemed to have changed as the bandits continue to unleash
mayhem on the communities and travellers in the area as people
are being killed or abducted almost every week.
Despite the deployment of security personnel to the area, the
hoodlums seemed to be operating freely as they go about with their
The COAS, had during the flag-off of the Forward Operation Base
(FOB), tagged operation ‘Idon Raini’ at the proposed site of the 2
Battalion at Kampanin Doka Village, near Birnin Gwari, charged the
troops to bring the criminals to their knees in three weeks.
“In the next two, three weeks, there must be resounding results
that will bring these criminals to their knees finally,” the COAS had
declared while addressing the troops.
The launching of the operation was sequel to the deadly attack on
Gwaska Village in the Birnin Gwari area. Over 70 people were killed
with several houses set ablaze during the deadly invasion of the
The troops were camped at the very location where 11 soldiers
were killed about two months ago.
Tukur said: “The criminals are not coming from the moon or
coming from outer space, they are within this territory, I don’t know
why you cannot go to where they are, and fish them out.”
Speaking further, he declared that: “The killings must stop, the
wanton destruction of property must stop, not only within Kaduna
State but in the North-west, the North-central and across our
“We must respond decisively and commanders will be personally
held responsible for any lapses,” he stressed.
He warned that troops must “decide and take appropriate action,
anything outside that, you will also be held responsible.”
Buratai said the Nigerian Army will no longer adopt a defensive
approach but an offensive approach.
“The battle must be taken to the door steps of the criminals. We
are no longer going to adopt the defensive approach, it must be
offensive. Since the battle has been brought to you, you must take
it back and crush them wherever they are,” the COAS ordered.
He regretted that it was unfortunate that the insecurity is equally
turning against the security forces and urged the troops to first of
all protect themselves to avoid a repeat of the incident that led to
the killing of 11 of their colleagues in the area.
“We are first and foremost supposed to ensure that we protect
ourselves. If we cannot protect ourselves, it will be difficult to
protect any other person.
“I am saying this against the unfortunate incident that happened
here, in this particular place where 11 of our colleagues were
“Our training must be applied on the ground. Whatever we have
learnt during training, must be applied on the ground.
“You must apply all the techniques and the procedures and the
tactics for the type of operations you are deployed to perform. So
we expect very high standard of operation.
“A situation where our troops don’t observe the basic routines
must be avoided,” Buratai told the troops.
He also assured the troops of their welfare, adding that their
challenges and other logistics were being addressed.
Earlier during a courtesy call on the Emir of Birnin Gwari, Mallam
Jibrin Zubairu, in his palace in Birnin Gwari, the Army Chief assured
the traditional ruler that the security challenges would be over as
everything was being done to tackle the situation.
“We are working round the clock to make sure we get things in
order…We will do our best so that the situation is brought to
normalcy. The Army is concerned, the government is concerned, I
want to assure you that we will work assiduously to bring about
normalcy here so that the people will go back to their farms and
continue their livelihood,” the COAS told the Emir.
The assurances of Buratai, raised the hope of the people who have
been under a reign of terror for many years.
Hundreds of people in Birnin Gwari town had stormed the palace of
the Emir as news went round that the COAS had come to crush the
The Emir was so elated about the visit and the assurances by the
Army Chief to bring an end to banditry in the area.
“The Minister of Interior was here, the Inspection General of Police
(IGP) was here and now you have come, it means the government
has heard our cry,” the Emir said while responding to remarks by
“Your visit is a great reassurance that the security challenges
would be addressed,” the Emir said.
He told Buratai who was accompanied by top military officers and
the Kaduna State Police Commissioner, Austin Iwar that unless the
Army go to the bushes and flush out the bandits from their
hideouts, the killings would not stop.
The Emir said soldiers are normally stationed on the roads while
the bandits are in their hideouts in the bushes.
“This place is not Sambisa (forest), the bandits have their limit,
they can be defeated. Since the Chief of Army Staff has come
here, we are optimistic that the problem will be over,” the Emir told
journalists in an interview shortly after the courtesy call by the
However, the hope of the people seems to have dimmed when
three days after the COAS’ visit, 10 people were killed when
bandits attacked four villages.
It appears that each time a top security official visited the area, the
bandits respond with more attacks.
When the IGP, Ibrahim Idris visited the area alongside the General
Officer Commanding 1 Division of the Nigerian Army on May 6,
2018, the bandits invaded Gwaska Village two days after the visit
and killed over 70 people. Several people were wounded while
many houses were burnt.
Also three days after the COAS visited the area, the bandits
responded by attacking four villages, killing 10 people.
The hoodlums are said to be more daring as they
mount road blocks on the roads and disguise as policemen,
robbing and abducting people.
According to the Chairman of the Birnin Gwari branch of the
National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), taxi section,
the road from Birnin Gwari, connecting Funtua, in Katsina State is
a no go area, as the bandits have taken over the road.
He said the criminals operate freely along the route as there are no
security personnel patrolling the road, adding that motorists have
abandoned the road for fear of being robbed or kidnapped.
The people of Birnin Gwari are wondering why, in spite of the three
weeks’ directives by the COAS, the attacks seemed to be going on
unabated, with people being killed or abducted almost on a weekly
A politician from Birnin Gwari who pleaded anonymity said the
people of the area were so excited when Buratai gave his men
three weeks to chase out the bandits.
“When the Army Chief ordered his men to smoke out these
criminals within three weeks, we felt very relieved. “We were
hopeful, we were jubilating, but with the way things are going, we
are becoming disenchanted.
“We have not felt the impact of security agents deployed to Birnin
Gwari. Of course, they have their own challenges, but we don’t
expect that these bandits should be operating the way they are
doing,” he said.
There are complaints among the people that the impact of the
security agencies deployed to the area are yet to be felt, as the
bandits appear to have become the law unto themselves and
operate with impunity.
The military operations launched by Buratai were part of the efforts
aimed at combating the menace of the bandits.
The police had earlier deployed 200 additional personnel to the
area after the killings in Gwaska.
But there seem to be no respite as the bandits continuously carry
out their criminal activities.
On May 20, they invaded Maganda Village at about 2:00 a.m. and
abducted three housewives.
A 12-year-old boy was said to have been shot following sporadic
shooting by the gunmen.
The three women, said to be wives of one Alhaji Adamu Nakwalla,
were abducted when the bandits could not find their husband who
One of the wives was later released after they had reached
Danyamu, a neighbouring village and was given a phone number to
deliver to her husband to call.
On Tuesday and Wednesday last week, 44 passengers travelling
along the dilapidated Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna highway were abducted
The victims, according to the NURTW chairman were travelling to
Kano for business.
Duniya said the bandits posed as police men and stopped the
vehicles, adding that the female victims were stripped naked and
their clothes were left by the vehicles at the scene of the attack
before they were taken to the bush.
Duniya said on the Wednesday incident, 21 people travelling in
three Golf vehicles from Birnin-Gwari to Kano were abducted while
17 people in a Saloon car as well as six people traveling in a truck
and a tanker were earlier abducted on Tuesday.
A security official who pleaded anonymity regretted the attacks,
but added that security personnel also have their challenges.
He said it was not possible for security personnel to be deployed
to every village in the area.
He added further that although security personnel have been
working hand-in-hand with local vigilante groups the terrain of the
area and the fact that bandits have sophisticated weapons and are
always in large group while launching an attack posses serious
“Birnin Gwari Local Government is very large, it is a very difficult
terrain. It has a thick forest stretching to
Zamfara, Sokoto, Birnin Kebbi, Katsina and Niger states.
“The bandits are said to have established various camps in the
“Security personnel are ill-equipped to go into the forest, but I
believe steps are being taken to address it,” he said.
Similarly, the dilapidated federal highway from Kaduna to Birnin
Gwari poses serious security threat.
The bad state of the road has made it easy for bandits to operate.
Because of the bad state of road, vehicles move at a snail speed
making it possible for the criminals to operate and run into the
Even if security agencies are alerted, the bad road makes it
impossible to respond to distress calls in good time.
During Buratai’s visit, the Emir appealed to the federal government
to repair the road.
“The bandits use the bad roads for their attacks,” the Emir said.
Besides, bad road, communication is also a challenge in some of
the communities where there is no telephone network, making it
impossible to alert security agents in times of emergencies.
Some of the security personnel also complained that sometimes
they are not properly fed.
“They don’t give us food, there are times we go without breakfast,”
one of the security personnel alleges.
The farming season has come and the people are praying and
waiting to be liberated from these bandits that have destroyed their
economic and social activities. Unless the security agencies tackle
the situation, many families stand the risk of hunger and
The recent directive by the Chief of Army