Barely a month after some communities in Shiroro local government area of Niger State pledged their allegiance to one of northwestern Nigeria’s most notorious bandits, Dogo Gide and his group, more communities in the area have followed suit and have submitted themselves to the rulership of the most dreaded Bandits leader in the state.
Following a peace meeting between the communities and the Bandits leader on Thursday last week where no fewer than 36 villages declared their loyalty to the group, he (Dogo Gide) has agreed for the communities to re-open three major markets in the area that were shut as a result of insecurity.
Among the latest villages that pledged their allegiance to the Bandits leader are Makera, Dnakogbe, Kudodo, Agyeiwi, Zhazhayidna, Pyegbere, Gamdu, Akpaituko, Dnasapa, Dnasa and Goffah, all under Iburo district.
In Kusasu district no fewer than 11 villages, namely Bmukwo, Dnakundna, Saleri, Apaiwi, Kuchiwi, Gwasankasa, Ajatawi, Muaigu, Kuchiwidna, Ubandoma, Anguwan-shahu, Katigbe and Jenuko, while in Kwaki, 14 villages were among those that declared their support for Dogo Jide leadership. They are Mutundaya, Alaiyi-kwaki, Buresidna, Kasayabana, Azhayi, Anguwan-Ayaba, Jidna, Kacheredna, Gbada, Sindnayi, Ajatawi, Goha, Ajayi-Bataro, Danugbayi.
However in the Chikuba district, 11 villages namely Affarpi, Dnai, Gyidnai, Kudumidna, Dnaibui, Shapai, Thopoi, Challipai, Yanka, Bodo, Bududna joined the long list of villages that pledged their allegiance to the warlord.
A source close to these communities told newsmen in Minna, that three major markets in the area that were shut down and hitherto remained a no-go-area for the people as a result of the banditry activities have been re-opened on the order of the Dogo.
According to him, the affected markets are Kusasu market, Iburo market and Chukuba market, adding that “Dogo Gide also told the people that he will be in charge of all the revenue collection in the markets and the people agreed because they have no choice, at least if that is what will make them live in peace.
“He also asked all the communities that fled from their homes as a result of incessant attacks in the areas to return back. He promised them that nobody would attack them henceforth after they agreed with his terms.”
It was gathered that during the well-attended peace meeting, the people contributed food and drinks to celebrate the bandits whom they referred to as their leader.
DIPLOMATIC DIARY recalls that barely one month ago about eight communities in the area surrendered themselves to the leadership of the bandit warlord and pledged their loyalty and allegiance to the group.
The communities are Kusasu, Kwaki, Chukuba, Gulana, Nakuna, Yanka and Kurebe where the bandits warlord has continued to operate with impunity for years now.
On August 16, Gide released a video in which he claimed his fighters were responsible for downing a Nigerian air force helicopter in Shiroro, Kaduna State.
Shiroro is where Ansaru, an al-Qaeda-affiliated and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)-loyal faction, attempted to recruit villagers and establish hideouts in 2021 (dailytrust.com, June 28, 2021).
Ansaru also employed the same tactic when it shot down another air force helicopter en route from Kaduna to the Nigerian capital of Abuja in 2020 (punchng.com, February 6, 2020).
These factors combine with reports of Dogo Gide allying with Ansaru to lend credibility to Gide’s claim that his group brought down the aforementioned helicopter (humangle.ng, June 9, 2020).
Dogo Gide had also been associated with Ansaru because of the group’s attempts since 2019 to recruit bandits to its cause and convince them to adopt their jihadist ideology—all the while, Gide’s men have won over civilians by threatening bandit groups who would exploit the local population.
Ansaru, however, has been unable to sustain the momentum of either its recruitment of bandits or its fight against them, and is therefore currently operationally dormant for the most part in northwestern Nigeria (vanguardngr.com, August 5, 2022).
The Shekau faction remains in disarray, having lost its footing in the northwest since the group’s late, eponymous leader Abubakar Shekau died launching a suicide attack during a fight against Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) in 2021.
Previously, Ansaru had competed with the rival Shekau faction for recruits in the northwest.
Shekau had deployed fighters to northwestern Nigeria to expand his group’s operations there; the most visible result of this was the kidnapping of 300 schoolboys in Kankara by Katsina State-based bandits.
The bandits shared their claiming of the attack with Shekau in a video in 2020 (Flip TV, December 15, 2020). In addition, Shekau’s faction began releasing videos of new loyalists in the northwest, further supporting the argument that he had found success in expanding his operations in that region before his death (see Terrorism Monitor, January 15, 2021).
If Shekau faction loyalists had sought new affiliations after his death, Ansaru could have seen some benefit, but it does not appear that Ansaru has succeeded in attracting any significant number of the late Shekau’s militants.
Among the reasons why neither Ansaru nor the Shekau faction have succeeded in formally or consistently allying with the bandits is that the bandits have not embraced the jihadist ideology of either group.
The bandit groups have remained focused on looting, kidnapping civilians for ransom money, and other forms of smuggling and illicit money-making activities; the groups have not promoted any particular ideology outside of declaring their generalized grievances against the government (thenewhumanitarian.org, January 13).
What makes the Dogo Gide video notable, however, is that for the first time a bandit, Gide himself, has explicitly tied his group to the jihadist ideological vision. In this case, Gide’s men adopted the jihadist aesthetic, both in terms of Shekau faction-like uniforms and the words used to describe the attack.
In the video, for example, while Gide claimed the downing of the helicopter and showed footage of his fighters scouring through the wreckage, he stated it was “Allah’s work, not ours.” Likewise, Gide demanded Nigerians “repent” for their safety, while his fighters exclaimed “Allahu Akbar” (Twitter/@Shamzy_Official, August 16).
The video suggests Dogo Gide is now reaching out to the jihadists, whereas previously it was the jihadists who sought the alliance with the bandit groups.
This may be caused by the bandits’ lack of funding or weapons, if not also the need for training.
If either Ansaru or the Shekau faction cannot capitalize on Dogo Gide’s increasing jihadist tendencies, then ISWAP may seek its own expansion in the northwest and possible alliance with Dogo Gide or other bandit groups.