Senator Shehu Sani has lamented increased insecurity in the country, saying bandits have created a state inside the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Virtually now, bandits in the North West have become a state within a state,” Mr Sani said.
Mr Sani, in an interview with Channels TV, said bandits have become so powerful that they now install traditional rulers and imams in some areas in the North-West.
“They (bandits) have been able to establish governance structure in the sense that they don’t just kidnap and extort money, it has reached a point where they even install,” Mr Sani said. “According to reports, they install traditional rulers and imams.”
Mr Sani’s statement comes a few days after bandits killed over 200 citizens and burnt down properties in several communities in Zamfara State.
In his reaction, Mr Buhari, who ran on the promise to tackle insecurity in the country before he was elected in 2015, urged affected communities to exercise “patience” with his regime’s handling of the matter.
In November, minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, dismissing reports that bandits now control parts of the country, said bandits who impose taxes on citizens are no different from areas boys who extort people in the southern part of the country.
“The issue is not about bandits collecting taxes. But that’s not the same as saying there is a new caliphate. Do you know how many places in this country where area boys collect taxes and there is no banditry there?” Mr Mohammed asked.
“I don’t want to mention names. In many of our cities, they carve out their own territories. So what they are writing is nothing. It is not indicative that the bandits have taken over,” he added.