“What is happening now is that there is a kind of an unholy handshake between bandits and Boko Haram insurgents.”
Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said bandits operating in the North-west and parts of the North-central zones are now collaborating with Boko Haram terrorists who were dislodged from the North-east region.
The minister stated this on Wednesday while addressing journalists after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the State House in Abuja.
The disclosure comes few days after at least 142 persons were killed across 10 villages in Kanam and Wase Local Government Areas of Plateau State.
It also comes two weeks after the attack by suspected bandits on the Kaduna-Abuja rail track.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the bandits rigged the tracks of the rail lines with explosives, causing damage to the Kaduna bound train, while also shooting sporadically at the passengers on board the train.
The bandits, a few days later, released a video of the kidnapped victims who were urging the federal government to heed to their demands before they were released.
Mr Mohammed, while reacting to the train incident, revealed that the dislodged terrorists from the North-eastern part of the country are now in collaboration with the bandits who had hitherto operated in the other two zones in the north.
He added that the federal government are working hard to put an end to the menace.
“What is happening now is that there is a kind of an unholy handshake between bandits and Boko Haram insurgents.
“Preliminary reports of what transpired at the Kaduna train attacks show that there is a kind of collaboration between the bandits and the dislodged Boko Haram terrorists from the North-east.
“I can tell you very confidently that the federal government is on the top of this matter,” he said.
On the rescue efforts for the kidnapped victims, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, who was also at the briefing, said the government is on top of the situation.
“Honestly, I think the security chiefs are working hard to unveil those that are involved, and we will tell you very soon those that are carrying out these attacks.
“Both Jos and Kaduna, we will come and explain to the public what is really going on and our efforts to ensure that all these activities are stopped once and for all. We are really on top of the situation. We are planning hard and we will get it out as soon as possible,” he said.
The revelation by the information minister about the collaboration between the two terrorist group appears to contradict the position of one of the kingpins of banditry in the North-west region.
Notorious kingpin, Bello Turji, had in an interview with Daily Trust newspaper recently, said he had no connection with ISWAP and Boko Haram members.
Mr Turji said he did not need to have any links with ISWAP and Boko Haram because he had no political agenda or looking to establish his own territory.
“We are not interested in establishing any religious organisation. We are not aspiring to have a territory of our own, and we don’t have any political aspirations.
“We took up arms to protect the lives of our people that are being killed, it is not just because we are merciless or we are unconscious of Allah who created us.”
Speaking further, Mr Turji said the Muhammadu Buhari-led government cannot curb the illegal firearms in circulation and access to communication in the country.
After months of foot-dragging, the federal government, in January, designated the bandits as terrorists.