The Ansaru terrorist group has established another government within the Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State and now taxes helpless residents, a Senior Councillor of the Birnin Gwari Emirate, Zubair Abdurra’uf has said.
“We have a government within the government,” Abdurra’uf lamented on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Wednesday.
“There are some areas within Birnin Gwari, particularly the eastern part, whereby the Ansaru (group) administer this territory because they give directives to the citizens who are there and they decide what to be done,” he said.
Like Boko Haram…
According to him, the splinter group of notorious Boko Haram terrorist group came into Birnin Gwari over 12 years ago under the guise of teaching the people Islamic knowledge but later turned to insurgents with abhorrence for western education.
“Most of the schools in the area are deserted because they issued a decree that nobody should go to any school or have any form of formal education,” he said.
Abdurra’uf said Birnin Gwari, which is vast with difficult terrain and mountainous places and adjoining forest to Zamfara and other states, has since been deserted by government institutions as the insurgents sack local chiefs and enthrone their rule.
“At times, the locals have no option but to take some of their issues to these terrorists for adjudication because of the absence of some of the institutions of government that will normally take care of these issues,” the traditional councillor said.
“The ideological conviction of Ansaru is not different from Boko Haram because the Ansaru are a splinter group of Boko Haram and whatever you see Ansaru do is in consonance with whatever Boko Haram are doing but only that the modus operandi of the two groups differ.”
This is not the first time that officials would sound the alarm of terrorist dominance in Birnin-Gwari. In May, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai said Boko Haram and the Ansaru terrorists are taking over the Birnin-Gwari and Giwa local government areas in the state.
‘Ansaru Now A Messiah’
The traditional councillor said the infiltration by terrorists in the area is not a question of the Almajiri system but lack of coordination to ensure people are not indoctrinated with the kind of “alien ideology” of the Ansaru people.
Abdurra’uf said the locals now see the Ansaru terrorist sect as a “messiah” that protects them from marauders who rustle their cows and hijack their harvests.
“They have their cattle confiscated, their farms, they have to pay all sorts of levies to the terrorists. They pay for the harvest. For every ten bags, they give two bags to all these bandits while they take eight away.
“So, when the Ansaru offers help to these people, they take it because they don’t have the means to protect themselves. They have seen Ansaru as messiah that will eliminate these people (marauders) who capitalise on their inadequacy and lack of protection which is the primary responsibility of the government,” he said.
He further said the Ansaru group distributes food items to locals during festivities, adding that young people join Ansaru because of poverty and neglect of the government.
Can 2023 Elections Hold In Birnin Gwari?
Abdurra’uf said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can’t deploy its personnel to the terrorist den in Birnin Gwari, doubting the possibility of the 2023 elections being held in the area.
On Monday, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu visited the Emir of Birnin Gwari, Zubairu Maigwari, and promised to wipe out bandits and terrorists in Kaduna and other parts of the northern region if elected as in 2023.
Also, an APC stalwart, Ahmed Sajo, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast show on Wednesday alongside Abdurra’uf, said Tinubu will eliminate non-state actors in Birnin Gwari if elected.
However, Abdurra’uf warned against the politicisation of the security challenges of the area and other parts of the north.
“Bad governance increases the issue of insecurity,” he stated, noting that politicians should not capitalize on insecurity to get votes during elections but look away after they get elected.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari doesn’t sympathise with residents of the area despite the many attacks by terrorists in the area. The official urged the government to rise up to its primary responsibility of protecting lives and property.
Kaduna, one of the seven states in the North-West geopolitical zone, has recorded increasing bandit and terrorist attacks in the last two years including the infamous infiltration of the Nigerian Defence Academy on August 24, 2021, and the dastard attack on a moving train on March 28, 2022.
The Kaduna State Government said 1,192 persons were killed by bandits and other violent groups in 2021 while over 3,000 residents, students, and travellers were kidnapped. So far, over 800 people have been killed by bandits, and more than 1,200 persons kidnapped in Kaduna between January and September 2022, according to official data.