Zamfara State has been on the edge of a precipice in the last couple of years because of escalated banditry. The criminal violence has led to a surge in cattle rustling, raids on communities, ethnic conflicts and kidnapping for ransom. Out of the 4,419 persons abducted in Nigeria between January 2021 and June 2022 (See figure 1), Zamfara State recorded 911 cases, the second highest in the country after Kaduna State, which recorded 1,271. (See figure 2)
In response, the government and traditional leadership have deployed a mixture of retaliatory and conciliatory strategies to no avail. For example, government troops’ deployment to quell bandits’ nefarious activities has yielded marginal results. Similarly, the use of amnesty to woo bandits has failed. These stabilisation efforts have been underpinned by a binary notion which divides the conflict actors into two separate ‘enemy’ groups. That is, those perpetrating violence (e.g. bandits) and those aiming for peace (e.g. members of state security forces). Based on the internal dynamics of banditry and other realities on the ground, this Nextier SPD policy weekly challenges the binary conception of criminal violence by shining some light on how the so-called ‘enemies’ connive to promote their economic agenda.