As the Armed Forces of Nigeria troops arrest Goma Sama’ila, one of the notorious and most wanted bandits’ leader terrorising the Northwest region, the Boko Haram/Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists have relocated over 300 of their fighters from their base in the Northeast to the forests of Kaduna State.
Already, the relocated terrorists have been sighted mounting flags in Rijana forest along kaduna-Abuja highway in Kaduna State. Rijana is one of the most dangerous forests that houses many terrorists, bandits and other criminal armed group in the State.
The first set of the relocated terrorists, sources said, are mainly involved in tactical and weapons training and kidnapping for the new recruits and low level bandits.
But a source said that majority of the terrorists arriving the Northwest region from the Northeast were part of the bandits’ foot soldiers who moved to the area about two months ago for tactical and weapon training proficiency.
Their deployment, a source noted, is part of the ways the Boko Haram/ISWAP is stretching its links in the whole of the Northern region towards becoming a “Caliphate,” which is one of the goals of the global terror group leader, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Specifically, Eons Intelligence had two months ago raised alarm that the terror bandits’ leaders in Zamfara State were moving their “foot soldiers from Zamfara forests into Borno (State) for tactical training in the new ISWAP camp” as part of the ongoing partnership of “handshakes between Bandits & ISWAP.”
Apart from the terrorism training programmes in Borno State, the bandits from Northwest being trained under the supervision of ISWAP-Boko Haram tested hardline leaders in both ideology indoctrination, strategic and tactical fighting and weapon handling.
Already, ISWAP-Boko Haram terrorists, desirous of recruiting more foot soldiers, are looking even beyond the borders of Nigeria like Northwest and Northcentral.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) had in a memo with Reference No NIS/HQ/CGI/943, urged its Comptrollers and other officer cadres to intensify monitoring and surveillance around their areas of jurisdictions with the view to gathering information that would help safeguard lives and properties.
The memo, titled “Movement of Armed Bandits from Zamfara to Borno for Intensive Boko Haram Training” and signed by ACG UA Auna, confirmed the receipt of credible intelligence intimating of movements of the bandits from Zamfara State to Borno State for “intensive Boko Haram Training.”
The memo, therefore, directed the comptrollers to ensure the prompt submission of valuable information for the attention of the Comptroller General of Immigration Service as they unfold.
The move by Boko Haram to deploy away from direct ISWAP control and confrontation was described as “strategic” by a source, which noted that since the death of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau in May this year, there has been a major shift in Nigeria’s 12-year insurgency battle.
The deployment move to the Kaduna forests could be the latest sign of cooperation between jihadists and criminal armed groups in the Northwest, who raid and loot villages and conduct mass abductions for ransom.
Two military sources said a faction loyal to Shekau based in Borno State had dispatched two commanders and 250 fighters to the Rijana forests in Northwestern Kaduna State.
Both commanders are allied with Bakoura Buduma, a Boko Haram chief who remains loyal to Shekau and whose fighters are resisting ISWAP consolidation, according to security sources.
“They are the masterminds behind some of the abductions in the North-West,” one of the military sources said.
Both sources said Boko Haram militants were also training the gangs, known locally as bandits, in the use of anti-aircraft guns and explosives and other weapons.
Military spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment. Kaduna State officials also did not immediately reply to a request for confirmation.
A Nigerian security agency communiqué earlier this month warned that a Boko Haram commander and foot soldiers were moving across the country from their base in Borno State to Kaduna State in the North-West.
Analysts said there had been growing signs that jihadists and bandit gangs were developing deeper ties where both stood to gain: Jihadists supply arms while profiting from criminal activity.
North-West Nigeria has long been plagued by bandit groups, but this year, attacks and kidnappings have surged.