Africa

Nigeria's Zamfara state offers repentant bandits cows for AK-47s

Herd of cattle Image copyright AFP
Image caption Cows are valued by the Fulani herder community

Repentant bandits in Nigeria's north-western state of Zamfara are being offered two cows for every AK-47 they surrender.

It is an attempt to encourage them to give up a life of crime and live a normal life as responsible citizens, Zamfara Governor Bello Matawalle said.

Motorcycle-riding armed bandits have been terrorising the state.

Cows are valued by the Fulani herder community who have been accused of being behind a wave of attacks.

However, members of the community have repeatedly rejected the allegations saying that they too were victims.

An average cow in northern Nigeria costs about 100,000 naira ($260; £200) while an AK-47 on the black market could cost as much as 500,000 naira ($1,200; £950), the BBC's Mansur Abubakar reports.

"These bandits who choose to repent initially sold their cows to buy guns and now that they want a life free of criminality, we are asking them to bring us an AK-47 and get two cows in return, this will empower and encourage them," Mr Matawalle said in a statement.

The attackers who operate out of abandoned forest reserves have also been ransacking communities in nearby states.

They often loot shops, steal cattle and grain, and take people hostage for ransom.

In a recent attack in Zamfara, 21 people were killed in Talata Mafara town by armed bandits.

In the last decade more than 8,000 people have been killed in the states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara and neighbouring country Niger, according to the International Crisis Group.

The attacks are rooted in decades-long competition over resources between ethnic Fulani herders and farming communities.

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Media captionInside Nigeria's kidnap crisis: A 2019 BBC Africa Eye investigation

Most residents of Zamfara state are involved in agriculture - the state motto is "farming is our pride".

The governor also promised to disband the camps in the forests where the gunmen are based.


More about Zamfara:

  • 67.5% of people in poverty (National rate: 62%)
  • Literacy rate: 54.7%
  • Slogan: Farming is our Pride
  • Residents mostly farmers from Hausa and Fulani communities
  • Population: 4.5 million (2016 estimate)
  • Mostly Muslim
  • First state to reintroduce Sharia - in 2000

Source: Nigeria Data Portal, and others


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