The Birnin Magaji community in Zamfara State found itself in a state of high tension as a group of youths, who had apprehended the wives of suspected bandits, was forced to release them. The youths had vowed not to release the women until the bandits released six residents held captive. This contentious development has raised questions about the involvement of the local monarch and the government’s stance on negotiations with criminals.
The state government expressed its dissatisfaction with the release of the two Fulani women and quickly distanced itself from the incident, pledging to conduct a thorough investigation. Attempts to reach Alhaji Ussaini Magaji, the monarch who ordered the women’s release, were unsuccessful at the time of reporting, but his Secretary stated that they would address the matter in due course.
In response to the controversy, Commissioner Alhaji Kabiru Birnin Magaji clarified that the state governor had not ordered the release of the Fulani women, emphasizing the government’s firm stance against negotiating with terrorists. He questioned the plausibility of such an order when six residents remained in captivity, stating, “This is not true.”
Furthermore, Alhaji Kabiru Birnin Magaji stated that the government was unaware of the fate of the youths who had detained the Fulani women and affirmed that the matter would be thoroughly investigated.
Reports suggest that after the monarch’s intervention, the women were transported by motorbikes to a nearby location to reunite with their husbands. This sudden development has left the community divided, particularly among the relatives of the six residents who are still held captive by the bandits.
The youths who initially detained the women, one of whom was pregnant, had identified and apprehended them while passing through Birnin Magaji on their journey. Their decision to hold the Fulani women was born out of frustration after the bandits kidnapped the six residents and seized their motorcycles earlier in the week.
A community member, speaking on condition of anonymity, explained, “The women are two, one is pregnant. We identified them because those bandits are not strangers. We know them because these were people that we associated with in the past, who now turned into our enemies.”
He added that although they had not heard from the bandits directly, the kidnapped residents’ wives had pleaded for their husbands’ release in exchange for their own freedom.
The community member emphasized their commitment to the rule of law, stating, “We are just being suppressed; we don’t know what to do. Going to the bush is no longer interesting. Likewise at home, wherever you go, you’re being trailed. So we must stand up. You only live once. These bandits and their location are known; it’s necessary to find a solution to this insecurity.”
The bandits reportedly attacked seven members of the community while they were on their farms and subsequently abducted them at gunpoint, also confiscating their motorcycles. As of now, one of the seven managed to escape, while the remaining six, consisting of four men and two women, remain in the bandits’ captivity.
This incident echoes a previous situation where the community held the bandits’ livestock hostage to secure the release of some residents held by the criminals. Consequently, the decision to detain the bandits’ wives was seen as a way to compel the release of their six community members currently in captivity.