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Peace & Security

Borno State security personnel die in fight with bandits in northwestern Sokoto State

12 February 2024
Reading time: 4 minutes

Deaths of 11 security personnel shock citizens of Borno who say the northwestern state should not rely on others to curb banditry

Eleven security personnel from Borno State have been killed by bandits in Nigeria’s northwestern Sokoto State.
They were among 300 security operatives, including members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), hunters and vigilantes, who were deployed to the northwest to help curb escalating banditry.

Baba Shehu Abdulganiwu, the overall head of the CJTF in Borno, confirmed that two CJTF members and nine hunters had been killed in action.

“The CJTF members were youths,” he said.
In January, Ahmad Aliyu Sokoto, the governor of Sokoto State, asked for help to stop attacks by bandits. He said the state needed about 2,000 security personnel to act as backup.

Sokoto was being “plagued by bandits”, who abducted schoolchildren for ransom, attacked and killed residents, and stole and destroyed property, he said. Other northwestern states –including Katsina, Zamfara and Kaduna – were also suffering at the hands of bandits.

Among the security personnel sent to Sokoto State were youths, who – some months back – had volunteered to help soldiers fight insurgents in Borno State. They were not issued weapons and used only big sticks. They had proved to be so helpful that they were later recognised by the state and, after undergoing a series of training sessions with soldiers and CJTF members, were formally enrolled on the state’s payroll and joined the CTJF.

Before requesting help, Aliyu Sokoto approached Babagana Umara Zulum, the Borno State governor, who gave his approval.

Abdulganiwu told RNI that 300 security operatives – comprising 150 CJTF members, 100 hunters and 50 vigilantes – were sent to help security operatives in Sokoto to fight against bandits, who were causing mayhem in the state.

“Banditry in Sokoto has been getting worse. Having sought permission from the governor, the director of the state security service made arrangements for the security personnel to be deployed in Sokoto.

“The Sokoto State government is responsible for their wellbeing and it has undertaken to take care of the families of those who are killed in action.

“The security personnel are on assignment, not contracts. Once the assignment is completed, they will return to Borno.”

Abdulganiwu said the men were accompanied by two CJTF commanders, Saminu Audu and Saad Jafar.

“The men know the deal. They know that they are fighting a war against the bandits and, like any battlefield, they will either come out as victors or as corpses. It was expected that there would be some casualties.”

RNI reporter Zainab Alhaji Ali asked Abdulganiwu about a video that went viral last week showing the corpses of security operatives in CJTF uniform in Sokoto State. He confirmed that two of the corpses were CJTF members; nine others were hunters.

Many citizens of Borno expressed concern about the security personnel, particularly the youths.

Mustapha Mohammed Arfo, a security analyst, said: “I don’t support the idea of CJTF members, vigilantes and hunters going to Sokoto. Don’t they have youths in Sokoto? Members of the CJTF have been crucial in the fight against insurgents in Borno and insecurity is still an issue. The fight against insurgents is not over. Citizens, particularly farmers and firewood collectors in rural areas, are still being attacked.

“I am against the youths of Borno State being sent to Sokoto. CJTF operatives are powerful in Borno and in the northeastern states of Adamawa and Yobe. What the youths accomplish in Borno, the youths in Sokoto can also do. Why does the northwest region not form its own CJTF? In terms of population, the northwestern region has the highest number of youths in the country. I think they should form their own local security systems.

“If I recall correctly, there are what they call ‘yan sa kai’, meaning volunteers, who were helping security operatives in Sokoto to secure unsafe areas from the bandits. I do not see any need for youths from Borno being deployed to other states where they are not familiar with the terrain. It is putting the youths’ lives in danger. Already some of them have been killed. Let the people from Sokoto fight for Sokoto.”


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