Bandits operating along Shinkafi/Sokoto Road, Zamfara State have claimed that officials of Zamfara and Sokoto State governments provide them with information with which they strike and evade arrest by military.

The bandits disclosed this during a peace meeting with popular Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, on Tuesday at Makkai forest.

The meeting was in continuation of the peace moves by Gumi.

It was not the first time the Islamic cleric would be meeting with suspected bandits to broker a peace deal.

About three weeks ago, over 500 bandits reportedly agreed to lay down their weapons in Kaduna after he struck a peace deal with them.

A source at the Tuesday meeting told SaharaReporters that the gunmen claimed officials of both state governments provide information on movements of troops and other operational activities discussed during security meetings to them.

The gunmen also accused the Nigerian government of not being sincere in ending instances of banditry and kidnappings.

“They said they have informants in Zamfara and Sokoto State governments giving them information and that the military can’t arrest them,” the source said.

States in the North-West region have in the last 10 years faced devastating attacks from armed bandits.

Almost 70,000 people have fled the region since April 2019.

According to the International Crisis Group, 11,000 people have died since 2011. Many deaths, particularly in Fulani communities however go unreported.

Several army operations have been launched by the Nigerian government, but most have been largely ineffective.

Some state governments in the region have resorted to signing controversial and secret peace agreements with the gunmen to stop the killings. But despite the accords, communities in such states are still being attacked and residents kidnapped and/or killed.