Banditry in Kaduna: A plague with no end in sight

Kaduna, also known as the centre of learning, has become a shadow of itself due to the banditry it has been facing for a few years now. Almost daily, there are reports of people slaughtered in their communities or kidnapped, with their abductors requesting large sums of money to secure their release. These kidnappers tagged as bandits mostly operate at night when unsuspecting victims are most vulnerable, making it easy to get away before security forces are alerted.

The rise of bandits in the state has slowed down agricultural activities as most people are scared of visiting their farms in fear of being gunned down by bandits. What started as cattle rustling and clashes over farmland has become a full epidemic as these bandits have now fully moved into the city, and no one is safe from them.

Recently, they attacked the National Defence Academy, where they killed two officers and kidnapped one. You would think a military stronghold would be immune to bandit attacks, but their infiltration of the academy has proven otherwise. Citizens live in fear, and many have even left the city, with some ending up in IDP camps because no one knows who is next. With the Nigerian Defence Academy attack, citizens do not have a lot of faith in the state’s security forces.

Their attacks range from settlements to schools, causing many parents to pull their children out of school for fear of losing them to bandits. There is not a lot of resistance to these attacks, so the bandits move freely without fear of reprisal attacks or arrests.

These attacks have also given the state a bad name, with many organizations and residents of other states warning intending visitors to the state to stay away or risk losing their lives. Recently a picture of a page from an NYSC handbook was flying around where the Abuja-Kaduna road was listed as one of the high-risk roads in the country. The state is also the least favourite choice of deployment for prospective corps members.

Though the government is trying its best to contain the plague, and recently Governor Nasir El-Rufai has called upon the Federal government to declare the bandits as terrorists. For many, it seems these attacks would never end because of their regularity and the inability of the government to put an end to the problem. As a result, a once beautiful and peaceful state is now on the edge of losing all its glory.