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Botched Swap: Tension in Zamfara as monarch forces youths to free seized bandits’ wives’

Bandits
Bandits

There was tension in Birnin Magaji community of Zamfara State as youths, who arrested wives of suspected bandits terrorizing the state and vowed not to release them until the bandits release six residents in their captivity, were compelled to release the women allegedly by a traditional ruler.

The state government had expressed displeasure over the release of the two Fulani women, distanced itself from the act and said that the matter would be investigated.

Although journalists could not reach the monarch, Alhaji Ussaini Magaji, for comment, his Secretary said they would respond to the matter at the appropriate time.

However, speaking in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service Saturday, a Commissioner in Zamfara State, Alhaji Kabiru Birnin Magaji, said it was not true that the state governor ordered the release of the Fulani women as was insinuated.

“It is not possible. How can the governor who is against any negotiation with these terrorists to order the release of the women when their husbands are still keeping six people in captivity? This is not true”, Magaji said.

He said government was not aware whether the youths who kept the Fulani women were arrested, adding that the matter would be investigated.

Reports said after the monarch ordered the release of the women, they were transported on motorbikes to a nearby bush for onward journey to their husbands, a development that caused tension and doubts in the community, especially among the relations of the six residents still languishing in the bandits den.

Recall that the youths who arrested the women, including one that was pregnant, were able to identify and apprehended the women who were passing through Birnin Magaji on a journey.

The Zamfara youths came up with the hostage swap idea because the bandits had, on Tuesday, kidnapped the six residents who were in captivity and seized their motorcycles.

According to a BBC Hausa report, a community member, who craved for anonymity, said the youths who arrested the women had insisted that nothing would make them to release the women because their husbands had also separated captives from their people.

“The women are two, one is pregnant. We identified them because those bandits are not strange. We know them because these were people that we associated with in the past, who now turned into our enemies,” he said.

He said even though they were yet to hear from the bandits, the bandits had called their wives and the wives pleaded with them to release the kidnapped 6 so that they too would be freed.

“If they don’t release our people, we won’t release their women. We’ve not taken the law into our hands, the authorities know that we are law abiding.

“We are just being suppressed; we don’t know what to do. Going to the bush is no longer interesting. Likewise at home where ever you go, you’re being trailed. So we must stand up. You only live once. “These bandits and their location are known, it’s necessary to find a solution to this insecurity”.

The bandits allegedly attacked seven members of the community on their farms and took them away.

“The bandits who were more than ten met them on the farm and kidnapped them at gun point. They also took their motorcycles”, the community member who spoke on BBC Hausa said.

“They kidnapped seven people but one was able to escape and returned home. The remaining six are still with the bandits, four men and two women.”

“This is not the first time. There was a time we held their livestock until they released some of our people in their captivity. That’s why we held their women demanding that they release our six community members before we release their wives”.

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