AFTERMATH: The victims of banditry in north-west and ruins left behind

How does one begin to console a man who watched his four children killed by bandits? Rabiu Isa did not just lose his four children when bandits attacked Talli Mahuta, a remote village in Maru LGA of Zamfara, his house was also razed while his crops were destroyed, which meant he had to rebuild his life from scratch.

TheCable visited the north-west to document the stories of residents like Isa, who are victims of the years-long violence ravaging the region.

In many villages across Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina, where the banditry has been concentrated, residents recounted how lives and livelihood were destroyed with little help from security operatives.

TheCable also found that Nigeria’s porous border with the Niger Republic was fuelling the attacks as residents recounted how bandits and arms often come through the route.

Below are pictures from the trip.

Valley of the shadow of death: A popular route for bandits attacking villagers in Talli Mahuta, Maru LGA in Zamfara.

A goat — one of the few creatures remaining in the deserted village of Talli Mahuta in Maru, Zamfara — overlooks the ruins left behind after an attack.

Many houses such as this in Maru, Zamfara, were razed by bandits during several attacks. On some occasions, they were burnt with human beings trapped in them.

Lost childhood: As is the case in many other LGAs, these children in Maru, Zamfara, have been forced to abandon schooling after getting displaced.

Two men watch over a kid as he walks by deserted homes in Talli Mahuta, Maru, one of the most attacked LGAs in Zamfara.

DEJECTED: Tukur Adamu, a villager in Talli Mahuta, Maru, Zamfara, narrated how bandits killed 30 people in his village.

Balkissu Ibrahim lost two children and four other relatives during an attack in Maru, Zamfara. Now, she struggles to find strength in their fond memories.

A woman walks by a bushy path in Maru LGA. Behind her are hills from where bandits often attack communities in the area.

A man stands by what is left of a classroom block burnt down by bandits in Maru, Zamfara.

A lake that hosts no visitors in the deserted village of Talli Mahuta.

Farmers such as this man in Maru LGA, Zamfara, have to arm themselves whenever they dare to visit their farms over fear of attacks.

Two children enjoy a donkey ride in Talli Mahuta. Many of the villagers have had to relocate over incessant attacks.

Men watch from one of the few buildings still standing in Talli Mahuta. Many others have been burnt down, and many villagers have had to relocate.

Rabiu Isa lost four children when his village was attacked in Maru. He said he is unsure of his family’s next meal.

Loaves of hardship: A child hawks his wares in Gusau, Zamfara state capital. Many children like him have had to relocate from their communities to find menial jobs in the capital.

In search of livelihood: Children eye labourers at a motor park in Gusau, Zamfara state capital

Brotherhood: Two kids walk along the streets of Gusau, Zamfara state, where the banditry is mostly concentrated.

Rocks like this in Gidan Baru, Zamfara, serve as shelter for residents who have had to relocate to the bush because of attacks.

A gigantic mosque housing some displaced persons in Maru LGA, Zamfara. The mosque is the IDPs’ only hope of shelter; it is also their source of feeding.

A child gets some sleep as he enjoys a drive in the streets of Gusau, Zamfara, the epicentre of banditry in north-west.

Braving the odds: Yusuf, one of the few villagers still in Talli Mahuta, despite the attacks.

Sixteen-year-old Umar Isah watched his father killed by bandits in Tangaza, a border town in Sokoto.

Umaru Abdullahi, a resident in Tangaza, Sokoto, said he was given “the beating of my life” when bandits abducted him in January.

A market in Gidan Madi, Tangaza, a border town in Sokoto, where residents said armed bandits often come to buy items.

Lost childhood: Children who migrated from various communities in Katsina seen in the state capital hawking, begging for alms.

A poster of Buhari, who rode into power on a wave of goodwill after promising to fight insecurity, overlooks Katsina town.


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