Security Stakeholders In Zamfara Skeptical Of Terror Kingpin’s Repentance

Aliyu Dahiru | HumAngle Media

Analysts and other security stakeholders in Zamfara believe Bello Turji's 'repentance' cannot be trusted until he surrenders his arms.

August 23, 2022

In January, Bello Turji said vigilante groups forced him to carry arms and he was ready to drop them. Credit: Crisis Group.

Analysts familiar with terrorist operations in Zamfara, Northwest Nigeria, as well as a committee on the prosecution of terrorists and related offences, have questioned the sincerity of Bello Turji, a notorious terror kingpin operating in the state, after the state’s deputy governor, Senator Hassan Nasiha, declared that he had embraced peace.

Speaking about the development, the committee’s chairman, Abdullahi Shinkafi, said in Gusau, Zamfara’s capital, that Turji must publicly lay down his arms before his repentance can be accepted.

Shinkafi did admit that there have recently been moments of peace in the areas where Turji used to operate, but believes this is not enough to assume the terrorists will not return to their crimes.

“As far as I am concerned, I know that he has embraced peace, but I cannot say that he has repented because if he has repented, he has to surrender all his arms and ammunitions, come to the government and submit his arms like what other repentant bandits did,” Shinkafi said.

He added that he had stopped participating in reconciliation efforts with terrorists because of their history of deception.

“Anything to do with dialogue with bandits, count me out because most of them are not trustworthy. They are not sincere. They are not honest. Whatever you agreed with them, they will still go back to their bad business, most of them,” he said.

Speaking to HumAngle, Yusuf Anka, a security analyst based in Zamfara, echoed Shinkafi’s statement, adding that Turji had repented and returned to his crimes at least three times.

He blamed the government, saying that it does not keep the promises it makes to terrorists before they lay down their arms, which frustrates them and drives them back to terrorism.

He also warned that any attempt to use Turji to combat other terrorists would only exacerbate Zamfara’s insecurity because Turji might use the opportunity to attack former rivals.

In terms of how to sustain the new development, Anka recommends that the government should confront the situation that led to the emergence of terrorists.

“It’s the same situation, the same environment; the situation will never change until the government solves the problem,” he said.

Turji is one of Zamfara’s most notorious terrorists, and he has repeatedly stated his desire for peace in a series of messages and discussions with others who have offered to be negotiators.

He is accused of terrorising residents of Zamfara, particularly Shinkafi and the outskirts of Gusau. He had also engaged in a rivalry with other terrorists operating in the state.

He and his group have also extended operations to Shinkafi, Isa, Sabon-Birni, Rabah and Goronyo Local Government Areas of Zamfara and Sokoto states.