Commentators are demanding an investigation of the relationship between some governors and notorious banditry kingpin, Bello Turji, after pictures of the governors and a confessed associate of the bandit emerged on social media.
In the picture with Musa Kamarawa are the governors of Zamfara and Sokoto, Bello Matawalle and Aminu Tambuwal, and the deputy governor of Sokoto, Mannir Dan Iyya.
Zamfara and Sokoto are two of the North-west states under attacks by bandits in which hundreds of people have been killed and thousands displaced.
According to a Daily Nigerian report, Mr Kamarawa was arrested in Abuja last year alongside one Bashar Audu, a Nigerien who was caught with a consignment of Indian hemp he was allegedly taking to Mr Turji and his men.
Mr Kamarawa was arrested in September but the video of his questioning by the police only appeared online a few weeks ago.
Under interrogation, Mr Kamarawa said he had known Mr Turji for long.
“Turji is my bosom friend, we are always in touch and we seek each other’s advice on our operations most of the time,” the suspect said.
He said the notorious banditry kingpin has over 100 armed guards around him and named those supplying Mr Turji with shoes, military camouflage uniforms, drugs and other materials.
Relations with Bafarawa
Checks by PREMIUM TIMES in Sokoto revealed that Mr Kamarawa is a nephew of a former governor of the state, Attahiru Bafarawa.
Mr Bafarawa, who is a political kingmaker in Sokoto, has been vocal in lambasting bandits and had urged the federal government to renew its strategy in the fight against insecurity.
Mr Kamarawa’s mother is the elder sister of the former governor.
Matawalle and Kamarawa
Mr Kamarawa, who is from Isa local government area of Sokoto State, has extensive knowledge of communities and forests in Sokoto East and Zamfara North, especially villages bordering Shinkafi (in Zamfara) and Isa (in Sokoto).
Investigations made by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that Mr Kamarawa was among those first contacted by Mr Matawalle after he was declared governor in 2019, to facilitate a peace accord with bandits.
A source at the Zamfara Government House, who is also a Special Adviser to the governor, said Mr Kamarawa was referred to the governor when the peace accord was being initiated.
“Though Bello Turji didn’t accept the peace accord, there were a lot of bandits who turned in their guns and ammunition through Musa (Mr Kamarawa).
“We didn’t know he had interest in them and was working for them because he was always advising us to expand our peace talks. You can attest to the fact that several weapons and bandits were here (Gusau) and we witnessed peace for some time,” said the official who requested not to be named because he did not have permission to speak to journalists.
However, he could not confirm whether a letter circulating on social media, notifying Mr Kamarawa of his appointment as Special Assistant to the governor, is real or fake.
“I can’t confirm. But like you, I also saw the letter. Assuming it is true, does that invalidate the efforts he made in bringing to the table the bandits that accepted the peace accord? Even if it is true, Matawalle did it with good intention,” he said.
PREMIUM TIMES also gathered that it was Mr Kamarawa who received Mr Turji’s father from security agents and handed him to the outlaw in July when the banditry kingpin abducted 50 residents in retaliation for his father’s arrest by the police.
In an audio recording listened to by this reporter last year, Mr Turji told a governor’s aide: “I promise you, if Musa (Mr Kamarawa) can bring my father to the riverside, let him just call me and hand over my father to me, Wallahi I will release all the people in my camp. What would I even do with them?”
Mr Kamarawa took Mr Turji’s father to the riverside and the captives were released to him, this newspaper learnt.
A senior lecturer at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto who is from Shinkafi in Zamfara, Tijjani Salihu, said the pictures show that Mr Kamarawa is not a “normal criminal.”
“We have raised our concerns regarding banditry in the Northwest. It is clearly showing that the highly celebrated young man, Musa Kamarawa, is well connected in his business. I request the concerned security agencies to interrogate him further and bring to book anyone associated with him in his business, no matter how highly placed they are,” Mr Salihu said.
A popular Islamic scholar in Sokoto State who has been vocal against banditry, Murtala Assada, said he was surprised that someone like Mr Kamarawa is now being investigated.
He said there are many influential people supporting bandits who at the same time are enjoying government support.
“I don’t know why people are afraid of releasing the whole video clip. They should release it and let whatever will happen to happen. If as is being said, why is Musa Kamarawa not being allowed to talk? Musa Kamarawa is a messenger of the city Turjis to the real Turji; there are a lot of them out there and we know they exist.
“We will keep praying for the security agents to succeed but we also want them to fear God and release everything that he (Kamarawa) told them,” the cleric said in one of his sermons released Monday morning.
Responding to PREMIUM TIMES’ inquiry on the photo, Governor Matawalle’s spokesperson, Zailani Bappa, said the uproar is unnecessary because the pictures were taken during the peace accord with bandits.
“First, I think the uproar is not worth response but it is okay to respond. His Excellency engaged in dialogue with the bandits with good intentions because he was disturbed by the incessant killing of innocent people. Bandits were reached out to for dialogue and they answered. Guns and ammunition were turned in by the bandits. Not only the man in question, but a lot of bandits and their collaborators were invited for discussion and most of them were seen by the public,” he said.
Mr Bappa said even another notorious banditry kingpin, Auwalun Daudawa, was part of the peace accord and his pictures were taken.
“It doesn’t mean Governor Matawalle has anything to do with Musa Kamarawa or any bandit collaborator because what he did was with the best of intentions and when he found out that they (bandits) were not serious about it, he backed out. I am sure you journalists can bear witness to the fact that we are no longer involved in the peace accord,” he said.
On his part, Muhammadu Bello, Mr Tambuwal’s media aide, said there is no relationship between his principal and Mr Kamarawa.
“There is no relationship between them. The picture was taken at the Sokoto State liaison office in Asokoro, Abuja. Kamarawa might have visited him like many Sokoto indigenes sometimes do at home, in Sokoto or elsewhere. I do not, however, know when exactly that picture was taken,” he said.
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