Residents of Birnin Magaji Local Government Area of Zamfara State, on Wednesday, cordoned their emir’s palace and killed seven suspected bandits.
The armed bandits were said to be in the emir’s palace for a peace talk after their cows were confiscated following an airstrike on their base in Birnin Magaji forest.
The Nigerian Air Force has been conducting air strikes in Zamfara against the bandits whose activities have caused the deaths of hundreds of people in the past few years.
Many of the bandits have been displaced by the air strikes. Some of them reportedly returned to neighbouring communities still bearing their arms causing fear among residents.
Some residents told PREMIUM TIMES that after an airstrike on Birnin Magaji forest on April 4, many residents of nearby communities accompanied the soldiers into the forest where they found over 200 rustled cows.
The cows were impounded and kept at the emir’s palace in Birnin Magaji. However, early last week, the cattle were taken to Gusau, the state capital.
On Wednesday, about seven suspected bandits and a person suspected to be an official of the State Security Service (SSS) came to the emir’s palace. They were there to reportedly plead for the release of their cattle, residents said, asking not to be named for security reasons.
The Emir of Birnin Magaji, Husseini Dan-Ali, was, however, said to be in Kaduna on Wednesday when they came. His secretary, Muhammadu Mai-inji, hosted the suspected bandits and SSS official inside the palace.
After residents learnt about the meeting, they hurriedly cordoned the palace and attempted to set it ablaze. Soldiers guarding the palace, however, pleaded with them.
The residents waited outside until the bandits came out. They lynched them. They also vandalised an SSS vehicle. The suspected SSS official was, however, rescued by soldiers, although he sustained severe injuries.
The police in Zamfara are yet to speak on the incident. The police spokesperson, Mohammed Shehu, did not pick or return calls to his phone on Wednesday evening.
Hundreds of people have been killed by the armed bandits in Zamfara. The bandits raid villages at will and also engage in kidnap for ransom.
The federal government has deployed thousands of soldiers, police officers and other security personnel to check the activities of the bandits.