A notorious North-west Nigerian banditry kingpin, Muhammad Bello, aka Turji, has relocated his headquarters from Fakai in Zurmi, Zamfara State, to the east of Isa local government area of Sokoto State.
Informed sources, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, said Turji might have moved ahead of ‘impending attacks’ by the military at the behest of the Zamfara state government.
The 27-year old is a ruthless bandit operating in Sokoto and Zamfara States. He had on different occasions rejected peace deals from the state governments.
The only time he said he was open to dialogue was when Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Ahmed Gumi, visited his camp in Zurmi (Zamfara State).
Turji has been holding the father, stepmother and an uncle of the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Nasir Magarya, whom he kidnapped alongside others about two months ago.
This newspaper had also reported how one of his commanders, Dan Bukkolo, rejected, on behalf of Turji, ransom money brought by aides of the speaker.
His new headquarters, according to multiple sources including a security one, is situated between Tozai and Suruddubu.
A source said “just four kilometers after Tozai before you reach Suruddubu you will find his new headquarters there.”
The leader of Rundunar Adalci, a human rights group in Sokoto, Bashir Altine, said they believe Turji relocated his headquarters to escape soldiers’ fury.
He noted that a recent decision by the Zamfara State government was also affecting them.
“Bandits’ kingpin, Turji, has relocated his headquarters to the villages around Isa and the people of the area can do nothing. With this relocation, he can attack Isa easily. For now, all villages under Isa and Isa East local government areas are under his territory,” Mr. Altine said.
A security source in Katsina State, who pleaded anonymity, said many bandits were known to be relocating and changing their headquarters.
“It is obvious. Security agents are giving them (bandits) tough time and you know they can’t stay in one place, hence the reason they now change camps. Because if they stay in one place for too long, we will get at them,” he said.
Turji is on to something big
A source from Sabon Birni who lives in Sokoto said Turji must be planning something big by relocating to the Tozai forest.
“When you look at the situation, you will know that Turji and his commanders are getting stronger by the day. We learnt that he has mended fences with his main rival in the Shinkafi – Sabon Birni axis, Halilu Sububu. And even without Halilu’s support, Turji can attack any village,” he said.
The source added that the recent attack on a military and paramilitary camp in Dama village was by bandits loyal to Turji and Sububu.
“But it was led by Turji himself. He was sending a message to the villagers who were providing information to the soldiers. He was also sending a message to the military and other security agents there that his attacks would be deadly henceforth.”
Speaking on the reported relocation of bandits to Sokoto East, the senator representing the zone, Ibrahim Gobir, said majority of the bandits had relocated to Sabon Birni and Isa Local Government Areas as a result of the ongoing military operations in the Zamfara axis.
Speaking on the floor of the senate, Mr Gobir said bandits have now infiltrated the zone due to absence of a major military offensive against them in the area.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...