THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT OF BANDITRY IN NIGERIA ECONOMY. A STUDY OF NORTH EAST NIGERIA
The ﬂow of illicit ﬁrearms in communities of North-West region is also a cause for security concern. Apart from fatalities recorded, bandits’ attacks on communities increased social risks, discouraged investment and triggered economic crisis for individuals and communities. The conﬂict is causing a spill over eﬀect on other neighbouring communities and local government areas of Niger State in the North-Central region, hindering inter-communal and inter-state trade.
The insecurity has a signiﬁcant impact on other economic activities in the region, as a number of major local markets such as IIella, Dandume, Maidabino, Kankara (Katsina State) and Bardoki, Shinkaﬁ (Zamfara State) markets have been shut down due to incessant attacks⁴⁹. The strategic nature of the trading locations made them attractive to major merchants from across other regions of the country for foodstuﬀ including maize, millet, guinea corn and beans. However, the proximity of these markets to the forest reserves made them vulnerable to attacks. This had an adverse eﬀect on trading activities, as revenue generation and market sales/supplies in the markets declined. A revenue oﬃcer in Katsina State had revealed that ‘trailers of foodstuﬀ at the market reduced from eight (8) trailers weekly to half a truck in two months’, while the revenue earning reduced from 500,000 naira to less than 100,000 naira Ojah (2019).
According to the 2019 report on food insecurity and market by Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), Shinkaﬁ market, a major cross border town in Zamfara State, functioned between 30 to 40 percent within the reviewed period, while Dandume market in Katsina State functioned lower by 15 to 25 percent relative to normal trading projections⁵¹ as shown in the map below. With the ongoing peace initiatives and negotiated peace deals with bandits, economic and farming activities have gradually resumed with communities and markets relatively secured for displaced returnees.
Background to the Study
For some time now, Nigeria has been a hotbed of conflicts. Apart from the perennial conflict between the farmers and herdsmen, there are other notable security challenges, which includes the activities of the Biafra separatists, militant Islamists in the North-East, kidnappings in many parts of the country, the Niger Delta imbroglio, and so on. However, the Boko Haram group remains arguably Nigeria’s biggest security threat. The group poses a significant threat to neighboring countries as well, especially Cameroon, Niger, and Chad resulting in grave economic, social, and humanitarian consequences. For example, the group recently gruesomely executed 40 rice farmers in Jere Local Government area of Borno State, Nigeria. The United Nations had claimed that the number of deaths were far more than reported.Punch (2020) But while the group is making lives unbearable for the people living in Northeast Nigeria, another organised group referred to as the armed bandits are increasingly making lives difficult for the people living in the Northwest area of Nigeria. Life is no longer sacred in these parts of the country and the overall impact will certainly last for generations. Government is clearly overwhelmed and the citizens helpless. It is therefore expedient to examine the dynamics of this recent surge in armed banditry, the challenges inhibiting the fight against banditry and how to prevent the total shutdown of the country by bandits and insurgents alike. But first, who are these bandits?
Banditry violence is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria. The history of banditry in Nigeria can be traced to pre-civil war period when government deteriorated in certain parts of the old Western region resulting in political violence, crime and organised insurgency.Chidi (2018) Accordingly, during the civilian reign, local bandits were reportedly stealing domestic animals. Mustapha (2019) Recently, in the Northwest area of Nigeria particularly in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Niger, Kaduna and Kebbi States, the activities of Bandits have been particularly worrisome. The activities of these bandits’ ranges from kidnapping to murder, robbery, rape, cattle-rustling, and the likes. Their modus operandi involves maiming and killing their victims when they least expect. Usually, they mobilized themselves through the forests into the neighborhood riding on fast motorcycles especially in the nights and shoot at will. Sometimes in the afternoon, once they were sure there were no security presence of the police or military around, they unleash terror in the communities. This growing threat is claiming victims in hundreds. Several children have been orphaned and women became widows overnight while the issue of food security as well as humanitarian tragedy will further make life unbearable for many Nigerians.
The facts are scary. While about “1,100 people were murdered in 2018 in the six states of North west Nigeria in 2018, over 2,200 were killed in 2019 and 1,600 killed between January and June 2020”. ACAPS (2020) About 247,000 people had been displaced while their activities alone have led to the production of more than 41,000 refugees.  In Zamfara alone, over 8000 people have been murdered in the last decade, 200,000 displaced internally and others fleeing to neighbouring states. ICGP Report (2020) The situation is so porous already that the religious leader and Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa ad Abubakar opined that “Bandits now move in the North from house to house with AK47 and lamented that the region had become the worst place to live in Nigeria…”Onyebuchi (2020)In Sokoto, more than 250 people have been killed in about 20 attacks, Rakiya (2020) just to mention but few.
It is important to note that the newest Northwest conflict started because of fight over depleting lands and water resources between the farmers and the herdsmen with the farmers belonging mostly to the Hausa people and the herdsmen being predominantly Fulani.ICG Report (2020) As a consequence, there has been massive deforestation because of the impact of the Sahara Desert spreading south. Nduka (2020)
Also, in an area where poverty is deeply rooted and illiteracy extremely high, rearing cattle is the preoccupation of many Fulani’. Thus, whenever this source of livelihood is threatened, whether by nature or human intervention, they are willing to do anything to survive. In addition, there is the problem of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the area, inequality and as John Campbell puts it, “weakened, stretched and demoralized security services.John (2020) There are also problems of failure of local justice and ethnic division Emmanuel (2020) as well as uncoordinated and under policed borders. Indeed, in recent history, banditry also became the order of the day because of government’s inability to protect lives and property as well as failure to put the welfare of the people first.
Government has responded at both state and federal level. The initial reaction was the bombardments of the various abodes of the bandits by the military and police under different code names, but this did not yield much significant result.Emmanuel (2020) The state governments have also tried to negotiate and give amnesty to repentant bandits. While this initially worked, the result did not last.
There are salient reasons why government interventions are not yielding fruit till date. A major factor is the topography of the area. The terrain is such that security presence is virtually unavailable for most people in the area particularly, those living in remote areas. It takes hours sometimes for security personnel to respond to distress calls of victims. WANEP (2020) This is further propelled by the massive forests surrounding the areas which is shielding the bandits from being easily captured especially as they make use of forests such as the Falgore, Kamara, Kunduma, Subudu, Kamuku and Kiyanbana forests.This makes it difficult for the military to secure the lives and property of the people residing in the areas especially without modern technology systems. So, what is the way forward?
The Nigerian government has complained about not having adequate modern equipment to give to her security personnel to work and had appealed to the international community to help in this regard. Fighting terrorism or banditry is not a tea party. Government must be proactive and partner with affected communities to bring a lasting solution to it. How do these bandits’ source for guns and tools to fight with? Where are they hiding? How do they access finance? Do they have records that can be accessed? Is it possible to trace their roots and linkage? How can information leakage among security personnel’s or civilians partnering with them be reduced? Answers to these questions will show that the threats of bandits can be reduced if not nullified.
Civil-military cooperation is a necessity and infrastructural development is a must even to rural dwellers as well as access to communication, police presence and protection. Not only these, the vigilantes that have been formed in the various communities in the north to combat the activities of these bandits must also be professionally trained and well organised by the government to work better and aid their communities. Movement of small arms and light ammunitions through the porous borders must be checked in cooperation with other countries in the region but ultimately, poverty must be drastically reduced, and providing good education to all citizens must become the priority of the government.
Statement of the problem
As Nigeria is re-strategizing on ways to control the menace of Armed banditry, insurgency and corruption having suffered from the Boko Haram insurgency which has crippled its socio-economic development, new emerging security threats are fast paving their way to either complement or to gradually replace earlier threats to the country’s socio-economic progress. Armed banditry, kidnapping, and cybercrime (Yahoo-Yahoo) among others have recently become rampant in Nigeria and posed a threat to Nigeria’s socio-economic development. It is against this background that the study tends to investigate The Socio-Economic Impact Of Banditry In Nigeria Economy
Objectives of the Study
The main objectives of this study is to empirically investigate The Socio-Economic Impact Of Banditry In Nigeria Economy.
The study were guided by the following specific objectives;
- To examine the Security Threats posed by banditry in Nigeria
- To investigate the Implication of Banditry in the Nigeria’s Socio-Economic Development
- To profer a lasting solution to the menace of banditry in Nigeria
- Are there any Security Threats posed by banditry in Nigeria?
- What are the Implication of Banditry in the Nigeria’s Socio-Economic Development
- What are the lasting solution to the menace of banditry in Nigeria
Significance of the Study
The study will equally add to the existing body of knowledge on the subject matter. Students undergoing research work similar to the present study who may wish to use this work as a reference material or a spring board for their own work will find this work really useful.
- Punch (2020) The Punch, “Anger spreads as UN says 110 Borno farmers killed”, 30 November 2020.
- Chidi (2018) Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, (December 27, 2018, “Banditry in Nigeria: A brief history of a long war”, The Punch.
- Mustapha (2019) Mustapha Umar Nadama, (2019) Armed banditry and Internal security in Zamfara State”, International Journal of Scientific and Engineering research, 10 (8) : 1220.
- ACAPS (2020) “Banditry violence and displacement in the Northwest”, (2020), retrieved from https://www.acaps.org/sites/acaps/files/products/files/20200723_acaps_short_note_northwest_banditry_crisis_nwbc_nigeria.pdf 30/11/2020
- ICGP Report (2020) International Crisis Group Report (2020), “Violence in Nigeria’s North West: Rolling Back the Mayhem”, 288:3.
- Onyebuchi (2020) Onyebuchi Ezigbo (2020), “Bandits now move in the north from house to house with AK47”, ThisDayLive, retrieved from https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2020/11/26/bandits-now-move-in-the-north-from-house-to-house-with-ak47-says-sultan, 11/26/2020
- Rakiya (2020) Rakiya A. Mohammed (2020), “Sokoto: Over 250 persons killed in 20 Deadly attacks’, Daily Trust, retrieved from https://dailytrust.com/how-bandits-killed-over-70-in-sokoto
- ICG Report (2020) International Crisis Group Report (2020), “Violence in Nigeria’s North West: Rolling Back the Mayhem”, 288:3.
- Nduka (2020) Nduka Orjiinmo, (2020), “Katsina: The motorcycle bandits terrorizing northern Nigeria”, retrieved at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-53009704 11/26/2020
- John (2020) John Campbell, “Not all violent problems require violent solutions: Banditry in Nigeria’s North-West, retrieved at https://www.cfr.org/blog/not-all-violent-problems-require-violent-solutions-banditry-nigerias-north-west 11/26/2020
- Emmanuel (2020) Emmanuel Akinwotu, (2020) “Waves of bandit massacres rupture rural life in northwest Nigeria”, The Guardian retrieved from https://theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/03/waves-of-bandit-massacres-rupture-rural-life-in-north-west-nigeria 11/26/2020
- Emmanuel (2020) John Campbell (2020), “Not all Violent Problems Require Violent Solutions: Banditry in Nigeria’s North-West, retrieved from cfr.org/blog/not-all-violent-problems-require-violent-solutions-banditry-nigerias-north-west, 5/12/2020
- The Premium Times (2019), “Northwest governors grant amnesty to ‘bandits’, herders”, retrieved from https://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/nwest/344330-north-west-governors-grant-amnesty-to-bandits-gerders.html
- International Crisis Group Report (2017), “Herders against Farmers: Nigeria’s Expanding Deadly Conflict”, 252
- WANEP (2020) “Addressing Armed Banditry in the North West Region of Nigeria: Exploring the potentials of a Multi-Dimensional Conflict Management Approach”, 5.