Leaked audio conversation between a suspected leader of the bandits responsible for the killings in Zamfara State with an Emir, reportedly from Zurmi, in Zamfara has emerged.
The suspected bandit leader in the audio conversation vowed that there will be more bloodshed in the state if the Federal Government continues to deploy security forces.
The Punch allegedly obtained a copy of the conversation which was in Hausa Language from a source at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja.
According to the bandit in the audio recording, the crisis rocking the state would only worsen with the deployment of military operatives.
“You call the police, soldiers and law enforcement agents to our villages; it will continue to cause more bloodshed,” he stated.
The bandit leader advocate a peace meeting between village residents and herders.
Mansur Dan-Ali, the Minister of Defence had few weeks ago accused traditional leaders in Zamfara of colluding with the bandits to kill people.
The traditional rulers council in the state however challenged the military to expose the traditional ruler who conspire with bandits.
The Emirs had also in a statement after the commencement of military exercise to flush out the bandits accused the Nigeria Air Force of bombing innocent villagers instead of the targeted bandits.
The traditional rulers further released the names of some innocent civilians who were killed in the NAF air strikes on April 9.
According to the traditional rulers, there are; Daji Barau, Na Bumburum, Suwaiba Alka, Yar Guru, Maryam Shafiu, Dahe Sule, Dan Kurma, Zaliha Dumburum, Aisha Akilu, Alamin Alka and Fati Gum.
The Nigerian Air Force denied the claim but however set up an investigative panel on the issue.
Here’s the transcript of the conversation between the bandit and the Emir (as seen on Punch);
“God has already given you a position (as an emir) and when you talk, people listen. You have some poor masses in the bushes. This violence started happening in our state about six years ago or so.
“They killed my people, they killed my relations, they killed my wives, my children. They killed some of my cows. I ran away when they killed my people. Then I involved myself in the activities of these terrorist groups. Now, I have escaped and back in my community. Will you not accept me as a member of this community?” the bandit said.
Emir replied; “Aka ne (yes, that is it).”
The bandit continued; “You should call your chiefs and bring your people from the bushes and from the village. Anywhere you meet us, advise the people of the community to join hands with the Miyetti Allah association. This land will be peaceful.
“If they make it this way, peace will reign. But to say you will call police and soldiers to Zamfara, this will not bring peace. It will continue to cause more bloodshed.”
The Emir replied; “Aka ne (yes, that is it).”
The bandit said, “Sometimes, you hear that they bombed a place where the bandits are camping. But the next day, the bandits will still come and strike in another place, close to where they bombed.”
The emir said, “We also are not in support of the bombings.”
The bandit added; “The reason why their bombing will not work is because before their helicopter comes around, information has already reached us. Before the helicopter leaves any base, the information will reach us and even where it will land. If they bomb any place, they will kill only birds and animals which are there.
“Also on land, soldiers were sent to attack us. But before they come, information has reached us. We know how we will attack them and know all areas where they will follow. We want you to ban anything vigilantes.
“People are surprised that they use airplanes to attack us but we are just like ants. They can’t see us; it is God that is helping us.”
The Emir responded; “Killing human beings is not good. I have heard your grievances and it is a load on me and I will try to unite the people of the community. We will still call you together to deliberate on it. I will try to ban vigilantes in any other place and I will give the feedback to the government.”
How NAF responded to the audio revelation
The Nigerian Air Force Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, in an interview with The Punch however said that despite the revelation, the airstrike and attack against the bandits will not stop.
“We will not take issue with esteemed traditional rulers. But if they say something that is not true, we must correct that. It took a lot of encouragement for the personnel to continue, because they were quite disheartened by the allegations.
“We follow due process to ensure that it is only the criminals that are taken out by the air strikes. We remain resolute and we will continue our operations. Operations were conducted on Friday and will be conducted tomorrow (Saturday). There is no stand down in any way. Air strikes will continue on identified targets within Zamfara State and its environs until all of these activities are put to a stop,” he said.