Recently, the media have been awash with the news of bandits’ daring attacks in Taraba and Plateau States. On November 24, 2023, it was reported that gunmen in their numbers attacked and killed 20 people in the Yangtu Development Area of the Ussa Local Government Area of Taraba State. On the early hours of December 19th, 2023, gunmen attacked Pupule community in Yorro Local Government Area of the same Taraba State, kidnapped Umaru Nyala, the chief of Yorro chiefdom, and abducted 22 other people. The Taraba State police command and other security operatives killed over 50 bandits terrorising villages along the corridor of Bali Local Government Area on November 28, 2023. However, on December 27, 2023, a group of bandits stormed the Gondon Maliki weekly market in Taraba State, kidnapped scores of people, and carted away food and wares using motorcycles.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, while condemning the gruesome murder of over 100 people on the Plateau, said, the bandits seemed to be ahead of the government.

To be fair to all the Nigerian security operatives, they’ve done an excellent job in the Northwest’s states of Zamfara, Kaduna, and Katsina. These states have witnessed a visible improvement in security, and the Abuja-Kaduna highway is secured while the Niger axis is a little bit silent.

It appears that the military and other security onslaught on the bandits and other terrorists have killed many of their leaders, and they have dispersed to the northeast axis and some parts of the plateau. Why did the bandits settle in these areas, especially the northern parts of Taraba State—Yorro, Lau, Jalingo, and Ardo Kola local government areas? Is it due to its topography, location or economy? Taraba State is among the poorest states in Nigeria but rich in agriculture and forestry. Probably the bandits found solace in Taraba due to its uniqueness in geography and agricultural activities. Furthermore, the Cameroonian mountains, which stretch almost the entire northern and southern parts of Taraba, linking the state with the River Niger, will certainly provide a hiding place for criminals.

The state, federal, and local communities should work together; collaboration is key to security management. For example, at its 8th and 9th meetings held in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, on September 9th, 2023, and in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, on November 24th and 25th, 2023, the Northeast Governors’ Forum expressed its concern about the new dimension of banditry in Bauchi, Gombe, and Taraba States as a result of the concerted efforts of the military on neutralising the bandits from other parts of the country. The governors called on the federal government to intervene and promised to work with and support all security agencies.

Managing security in a vast country like Nigeria with inadequate modern technology is difficult, and our security operatives cannot be everywhere at the same time. So what is the solution?

The reinvigoration of the kinetic and non-kiinetic security approaches by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) has resulted in many successes and breakthroughs; however, more intelligence gathering is needed; community engagement and direct communication with the bandits should be employed.

Zayyad I. Muhammad, Abuja

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