The Abubakar Shekau-led faction of Boko Haram has released a video featuring members claiming to be from Niger State in central Nigeria.
The video shows scores of people praying in the heart of a bush.
Then it shows three armed men, dressed in Nigerian military and police uniforms, who send Eid greetings in Hausa, English and Fulfulde.
A past video had shown a speaker from Niger. But he was dressed in mufti.
“It is us the Jamahatu Ali Sunna li Dawatul Jihad in the location of Niger State. We want to send our sallah salutation, first of all to our imam, Abu Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Abubakar Shekau,” a terrorist, dressed in a Nigerian police uniform said.
The emergence of the video has confirmed suspicions that the banditry and kidnapping in the northwest may not be what the Nigerian security apparati have tagged them.
Several reports have said Non-state armed groups(NSAGs), with links to the Boko Haram and ISWAP in the North east, are operating also in the north west and parts of central Nigeria.
Two most powerful banditry or terrorist groups are operating in the north west, accordding to a recent report. They are the Buharin Daji and Dogo Gyedi.
“The killing of 23 soldiers by bandits in Shimfida area of Jibia in Katsina state, and the death of five children from a bomb in Yammama village in the same state on 18 July
seemingly lends credence to assertions that certain elements of the bandits are either
linking up with other NSAGs in the northeast, or these NSAGs in the northeast are
operating independently in the northwest”, said the report by ACAPs.
Over 4,900 people have been killed in the north west in the past three years by the terrorists, possibly masquerading as bandits.
The highest fatalities occurred last year, when over 2,200 people were killed, according to a report published by ACAPS, the not-for-profit project of Norwegian Refugee Council, Mercy Corps and Save The Children.
In 2018, 1,100 people died, while in the first half of this year, 1,600 people have been killed by the well-armed bandits.
“Attacks have included shooting and killing, cattle rustling, kidnapping, rape, torching of entire villages, and looting of valuables, and the numbers of fatalities and displaced people have continued to rise”, said the report.
” By September 2019, such attacks had internally displaced over 160,000 people and produced more than 41,000 refugees. Displacement numbers now stand at over 247,000 IDPs and some 60,000 refugees”, it said.
More than 309,000 people have been displaced by the northwest banditry crisis as of 30
Zamfara state accommodates about 69,000 IDPs, Kaduna 71,000, Katsina 61,000, Sokoto 45,000, and Niger where a video has surfaced, has 3000 IDPs.
About 60,000 people displaced from Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara have crossed the border to Maradi, in the Republic of Niger.
More than 30,000 of the refugees arrived in Niger between May and June 2020 alone.