A Nigerian bandit chief who spearheaded the kidnapping of hundreds of school children before accepting an amnesty agreement has rejected the peace deal with the authorities and has returned to crime, sources told AFP.
Awwalun Daudawa ordered the kidnapping of more than 500 students from Government Science Secondary School in northwest Kankara state last December before surrendering to the authorities.
His rejection of the amnesty underscores the complexity of working with the criminal gangs Nigeria’s efforts to curb attacks and activities to curb kidnappings in the northwest of the country.
Some students escaped the Kankara kidnapping, while 344 days later were released after negotiations with local officials and ransom payments.
“It wasn’t until Monday that we found out that Awwalun Daudawa had returned to his old habits when he was did not return after the one-week deadline, “a Zamfara state official said late Thursday.
” We understand that he has joined his comrades in the forest near the border with Katsina state, “he said .
Northwest and central Nigeria have been heavily terrorized for years, armed criminal gangs raiding villages, stealing cattle, kidnapping ransom and burning houses after looting supplies.
But the violence has increased, as gangs also attack travelers at fake checkpoints on the highways and, more recently, have targeted schools and colleges to kidnap students.
Hostages are usually released after ransom is paid and those whose families fail to pay are often killed by their kidnappers.
The bandits are known to hide in camps in the Rugu Forest, which extends over the states of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger extends. Despite the deployment of troops in Zamfara and Katsina, deadly attacks persist.
This led some state governments to try to reach peace agreements with the bandits, offering them amnesty in return for the surrender of their weapons. < / p>
In February Daudawa and his six comrades surrendered to the governor of Zamfara, Bello Matawalle, in his office, where he renounced weapons as a bandit as part of the amnesty to locally known criminal gangs.
‘Back in control’
According to the officer, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the problem, Daudawa had called some repentant bandits from his camp in the forest and informed them of his change of mind.
On April 19, Daudawa left his Accommodation in the capital, Gusau, in Zamfara on the pretext of meeting some criminal gangs in the forest to persuade them to accept an offer of amnesty and release some hostages, a government official from Zamfara told AFP.
According to sources Knowing about the activities of bandits, Daudawa never surrendered all of his weapons and stayed in contact with his gangs in the forest.
“He (Dauda) has definitely regained control of his gangs in the nearby Jaja Forest Zurmi district is the border with Katsina state, “said a source who asked not to be identified for security reasons.
The criminal kingpin told Zamfara officials that he was kidnapping the kidnappers r of 39 students kidnapped from a forest school in neighboring Kaduna state in March to persuade them to release the remaining 29 students in their care, the source said.
“Daudawa was too smart for the Zamfara government, “said a second source.
” He only gave up a fifth of his weapons and used the alimony he received from the government to keep his men in the woods who called for a ceasefire, “said the second source.
In a phone recording, the bandit boss, posted on social media, overheard him discussing payments with an intermediary. State officials have always denied that the ransom was paid.
Security analysts have warned of the infiltration of criminal gangs in the region by jihadists who are leading a more than ten-year riot in the northeast, a claim the government admitted recently .
After Kankara’s abduction, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau took responsibility and confirmed that they were taken by “Shekau men” in a video showing some of the children in an unknown forest
Security sources had told AFP that the kidnapping of Daudawa was carried out in collaboration with Idi Minorti and Dankarami, two bandits with a strong following, on orders from Shekau.
Daudawa, 43, was an armed robber and rancher before turning to the gun barrel.
He began bringing in weapons from Libya, where he had been trained by jihadists. He sold the weapons to bandits, reported the AFP to security forces.
He forged an alliance with Boko Haram and became their shooter. He took weapons that the group had stolen from the Nigerian security forces during robberies and ambushes and sold them to bandits a cut.