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Zamfara Bandit Releases 52 Kidnap Victims in Attempt to Gain State Pardon

Zamfara State notorious bandit, Bello Turji, has released 52 kidnap victims in a ploy to secure state pardon.

Turji, who released the kidnap victims on Monday, took the step a few days after the Nigerian Air Force carried out aerial bombings of enclaves operated by the bandits; two prominent kingpins were killed in the raid.

Government sources revealed that Turji notified the Emir of Shinkafi and Zamfara State Gov. Bello Matawalle in December that he was willing to release 52 kidnapped victims in exchange for state pardon.

He implored the government to call off the aerial bombardment that killed two terror leaders as part of the deal for releasing the abductees.

A local government official said the government scrambled five buses which were driven to a river bank in Maberiya where the freed abductees were recovered. He said the kidnap victims were released late on Monday even at around 7 pm and they were transported to Gusau to meet with the governor.

He revealed that the abductees were from Shinkafi, Zurmi, Birnin Magaji, Isa, and Sabon Birni communities of Zamfara and Sokoto states.

A source in the Government House said Gov. Matawalle was aware of Turji’s letter calling for a ceasefire, but disregarded it because the bandits had always flouted his earlier endeavours at granting them amnesty and reintegrating them into the society for peace to reign in the state.

“I can confirm that His Excellency knew of the decision by Turji to release the victims,” the source revealed. “For now, I know the stand is that there will be no dialogue with bandits because even the letter was disregarded. We also learnt that Turji has been pleading with some of his friends to release some captives as part of his plan to appease us but I’m not sure it will work.”

The Zamfara State police spokesman, Mohammed Shehu, is yet to confirm the development. He has not returned calls and SMS made to his mobile phone.