A notorious North-west Nigerian banditry kingpin, Muhammad Bello, aka Turji, has relocated his headquarters from Fakai in Zurmi, Zamfara State, to the east of Isa local government area of Sokoto State.
Informed sources, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, said Turji might have moved ahead of ‘impending attacks’ by the military at the behest of the Zamfara state government.
The 27-year old is a ruthless bandit operating in Sokoto and Zamfara States. He had on different occasions rejected peace deals from the state governments.
The only time he said he was open to dialogue was when Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Ahmed Gumi, visited his camp in Zurmi (Zamfara State).
Turji has been holding the father, stepmother and an uncle of the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Nasir Magarya, whom he kidnapped alongside others about two months ago.
This newspaper had also reported how one of his commanders, Dan Bukkolo, rejected, on behalf of Turji, ransom money brought by aides of the speaker.
His new headquarters, according to multiple sources including a security one, is situated between Tozai and Suruddubu.
A source said “just four kilometers after Tozai before you reach Suruddubu you will find his new headquarters there.”
The leader of Rundunar Adalci, a human rights group in Sokoto, Bashir Altine, said they believe Turji relocated his headquarters to escape soldiers’ fury
He noted that a recent decision by the Zamfara State government was also affecting them.
“Bandits’ kingpin, Turji, has relocated his headquarters to the villages around Isa and the people of the area can do nothing. With this relocation, he can attack Isa easily. For now, all villages under Isa and Isa East local government areas are under his territory,” Mr. Altine said.
A security source in Katsina State, who pleaded anonymity, said many bandits were known to be relocating and changing their headquarters.
The source added that the recent attack on a military and paramilitary camp in Dama village was by bandits loyal to Turji and Sububu.
“But it was led by Turji himself. He was sending a message to the villagers who were providing information to the soldiers. He was also sending a message to the military and other security agents there that his attacks would be deadly henceforth.”
Speaking on the reported relocation of bandits to Sokoto East, the senator representing the zone, Ibrahim Gobir, said majority of the bandits had relocated to Sabon Birni and Isa Local Government Areas as a result of the ongoing military operations in the Zamfara axis.
Speaking on the floor of the senate, Mr Gobir said bandits have now infiltrated the zone due to absence of a major military offensive against them in the area.