Banditry: Inside The Delicate World Of Mediators, Informants

With the authorities and security agents still battling to find the right solution to the riddle of banditry ravaging some states in northern Nigeria, civilians serving as mediators and those providing information against the bandits find themselves on a tight rope. Daily Trust on Sunday reports

Alhaji Ali (not real name) winces as he speaks. He is in-between despair and regret as he reflects on his dreadful experience. He cannot stand straight, having spent over a month in a compact dungeon, where he, and other inmates, were packed in like dead bodies. Though he was not physically molested, he says he could not walk or stand on his feet when he was released three weeks ago.  

“No one could stand up or stretch out to sleep. We were seated throughout those days. We fed on only four spoonfuls of garri served once daily, in the afternoon,” he says, recalling his 33 days in detention. 

The pains and deprivation from the incarceration remain. These were cells where high-value suspects—from hardened armed robbers to bandits—are kept for interrogation, for weeks and months. In September, Ali was taken to two of these facilities, first in Kaduna, and later, in Abuja. 

Speaking to Daily Trust on Sunday, Ali recalls this encounter with men of the Nigerian Police, which, he says will linger forever in his mind.

He was lured into police custody, having been framed up by another person. He was given out as a collaborator for bandits —the same people he has spent at least the past three years fighting, through the back channels. 

“It all started with a call on a Monday afternoon. The caller asked me to meet him at the junction, that he was hastening on his way somewhere. I had no suspicion because he was someone I had been communicating with. I locked up my shop and headed there,” he recalls. 

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