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Motorbike ban reinstated because of escalating attacks in Niger’s Tillabéri region

15 October 2021
Reading time: 4 minutes

Escalating and persistent insecurity in certain departments and municipalities of the Tillabéri region in western Niger have led authorities to reinstate the ban on riding motorcycles day and night.

The decision was announced on Wednesday, October 13.

The ban was imposed in the “tri-border” area – a three-country point joining Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, known as the Liptako Gourma region.

Six weeks ago the ban was lifted. But unhappy citizens in the area sent complaints to President Mohamed Bazoum, saying they felt threatened by the persistent insecurity.

And, at the end of the latest ordinary session of the National Security Council on Tuesday, October 12, Bazoum announced the decision to ban motorbikes again.

The decision was based on what the governor of the region had found after he addressed various prefects in the departments of Say, Torodi, Gothèy, Téra, Bankilaré, Ayourou and Tillabéri, as well as the rural communes of Dessa and Anzourou in the department of Tillabéri.

Since 2017, the Tillabéri region has been plagued by an increase in attacks by extremists and an increase in insecurity.

The ban on motorbikes was put in place in January 2020 to try to combat terror attacks carried out by Sahel branches of the Islamic State group or al-Qaeda.

However the ban was lifted on September 1. Although many locals were pleased to once again be allowed to ride motorbikes, worries remained and many were unhappy about the decision.

The decision to lift the ban was taken because of a relative takeover of the security situation by the defence force and other Nigerien security forces (FDS) in the region.

Bazoum had promised in September that the situation would be assessed and examined “on a case-by-case basis” before any necessary measures were taken.

Following his promise and after an assessment of the security threat situation by the National Security Council, the prohibition on motorbikes was reinstated in certain departments and municipalities in the area.

Attacks have continued unabated in the Tillabéri and Maradi regions.

The latest attacks took place on Monday, October 11, at about 7pm in the village of Jigi-Zeino in the rural commune of Banibangou and on Tuesday, October 12, at about 8pm in the village of Sarkin Yamma Safoua, a commune of Sarkin Yamma in the department of Madarounfa.

Ten civilians, including a young boy, died in the attacks, which were carried out by armed men.

One civilian was wounded in a mosque during the Maghrib prayer in Banibangou in the Tillabéri region and one person was wounded and four women kidnapped in a village in the Maradi region.

The mayor of the commune, Souley Issoufou, when questioned by the radio Studio Kalangou, confirmed having contacted the security forces himself: “I called the FDS, defence and security forces based in Moullé. They came. The situation was very confused with attackers and citizens running everywhere. Unfortunately, and sadly, a stray bullet hit the son of the village chief. It is difficult for soldiers to distinguish the people of the village and the bandits.”

In Maiduguri in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, a ban on motorbikes has been in place since 2010.

The state government said at the time that no one in that city could ride motorbikes at any time, day or night.

The decision was taken to prevent drive-by attacks by the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād (JAS), more commonly referred to as Boko Haram, who had used gunmen on motorbikes to assassinate security officers and politicians.

The ban included private as well as commercial motorcycles of all categories that operated within Maiduguri metropolis. The ban is still in place.

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