The N60 million ransom paid for the release of nearly 300 abducted schoolgirls from the Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) in Jangebe, Zamfara State, was used to purchase more weapons, according to a bandit warlord.
The information was revealed in a BBC Africa Eye documentary titled “The Bandit Warlords of Zamfara,” which will air on July 25, lending credence to claims that the government has been funding bandits’ operations through ransom payments.
“We bought more rifles,” the bandit warlord said with enthusiasm when asked what the ransom was used for.
Around 279 schoolgirls were abducted from the GGSS boarding facility on February 26, 2021. They were later released by the bandits on March 2, 2021.
The governor of Zamfara state, Bello Matawalle, attributed the girls’ release to the successful negotiating skills of 30 repentant bandits, insisting that no ransom was paid.
The warlord’s revelation, however, has cast new doubt on Mr Matawalle’s statement, leading citizens to question the sincerity of the so-called fight against insecurity and the President Muhammadu Buhari regime’s controversial policy of pardoning and rehabilitating terrorists.
The documentary also revealed that Ado Aleru, one of the most ferocious and wanted bandit warlords, was recently bestowed with the chieftaincy title of Sarkin Fulani (chief of the Fulanis) by Aliyu Marafa, Emir of Birnin Yandoto of Tsafe LGA in Zamfara state.
Despite the fact that Mr Matawalle has since suspended Mr Marafa and ordered traditional rulers to seek permission and clearance from the state government before conferring chieftaincy titles, many citizens believe that the federal and affected state governments are too soft on criminal elements.