The renewed onslaught against armed bandits in Zamfara by the military under Operation Hadarin Daji (OPHD) is gaining momentum and has disorganised the hoodlums.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the hoodlums had been giving residents of the state sleepless nights for about a decade before the Bello Matawalle administration in May, 2019 initiated dialogue that ushered in peace.
The bandits, however, started a steady and gradual return, with killing of innocent citizens, kidnapping and rustling of animals, compelling the state government to partner the military to resume the fight against crime.
NAN gathered that troops of the OPHD had in the last one week killed about 40 bandits across villages in the two local government areas of Bungudu and Maru in the state.
The troops, while using air power from fighter jets and helicopters of the Nigerian Airforce component, cleared large parts of Koli, Tungar-Mata, Dadin Kowa and Jankura villages in Bagega District of Anka Local Government Area as well as in Nasarawa area of Gusau Local Government.
A source close to the military operations confirmed to NAN that about 1,000 cows and over 500 sheep were intercepted at one location alone when the bandits tried to use the thickness of Buzaye bushes to cross to Zaria in Kaduna State.
They were, however, said to have ran away on sighting the troops.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said many kidnap victims including the recently kidnapped village head of Wuya in Gummi Local Government were rescued.
The source also said several weapons including AK47, G3 rifles and an unspecified number of ammunition and money as well as some motorcycles and drugs were abandoned by the fleeing criminals.
“At the moment, some military intelligence personnel are spread around the areas of the operation to track down those who escaped with bullet wounds so that they would be handed over to the relevant authorities along with those arrested,” the source said.
NAN also reports that Gov. Matawalle had declared total war against the re-emerging bandits while still leaving the peace initiative open.
The governor had also warned traditional rulers and informants who aid bandits to be ready to face the consequences of their actions.