Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram terrorists are planning to establish a camp in Niger State, authorities have said.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Ahmed Matane, raised the alarm on Tuesday while briefing reporters in Minna, the state capital.
He decried the escalated rate of attacks by bandits on innocent residents in recent weeks, saying they were now collaborating with insurgents to worsen the security situation in the state.
Matane lamented that the insurgents – who have carried out attacks that have killed hundreds of thousands of people in the North East over the years – were suspected to be present already in two local government areas of the state.
He was worried that the state was in such a situation despite the effort of the government to protect its citizens, including spending a sum of N5 billion to combat the security challenges in Niger.
Intelligence reports, according to the SSG, reveal that bandits have begun to align with insurgents to indoctrinate residents in some communities of Shiroro Local Government Area (LGA) to imbibe strict Islamic ideology and ban women from going to schools.
He listed some of the communities visited by the insurgents to include Koki, Madaka, Kurebe, Kusare, and Chukuba, where residents were assured of protection but asked to embark on civil disobedience and reject western education.
“These people (Boko Haram) often go to communities to communicate with them (residents) and assure them that they will not harm them, and join them during Friday congregational prayer to preach to them on the need to forsake western education and embark on civil disobedience,” Matane told reporters in his office at the Government House in Minna.
“These are some of the attributes of Boko Haram that are perpetrated in the North East and the Sambisa Forest axis.”
He added that ISWAP fighters were also making an attempt to establish a permanent camp at Babana Forest around the Kaiji National Park in Borgu LGA.
The insurgents, the SSG explained, tried to contact the state government through a video in which they claimed not to be criminals, but messengers sent by God to establish an Islamic caliphate in the area.
He stated that the insurgents, said to be spotted in communities bordering Nigeria and Benin Republic, have started going around to indoctrinate the people.
“ISWAP is trying to establish a camp at National Park at Babana in Borgu Local government Area of Niger State,” Matane said.
“They also made a video claiming that they are not kidnappers, but engaging in religious activities. They have assured us that they are ‘God sent’ to establish an Islamic caliphate. Despite their rapprochement, we are not negotiating with them.”
According to him, Munya, Rafi, Shiroro, Mashegu, and Mariga LGAs are the epic centre of kidnappings and banditry while parts of Lapai LGA have begun to experience such security challenges.