National News

Notorious Gang Leader Makes Peace Deal

Written by Zainab Sabitu

Until a few days ago, if you mentioned the name “Bello Turji” to any northern Nigerian you would most likely get a vexed and fearful response.

Over the last couple of years, Mr Turji gained notoriety as the banditry and insecurity troubling north-western Nigeria worsened.

Amongst other alleged crimes, he was accused of ordering the burning alive of 23 passengers including a pregnant woman last year in Sokoto state.

But over the weekend, the regional government of Zamfara state announced Mr TurjI had now embraced peace and was vowing to fight active bandits.

“We have succeeded in reaching a peace deal with [Mr] Turji, and in the past six weeks not a single person was killed in the areas he operates,” senior Zamfara state official Hassan Nasiha told reporters on Sunday.

This marks a big turnaround for the man who had been on regional police’s most-wanted list.

What else do we know about the man? For more insight, the BBC spoke to an academic who has written a book called I Am a Bandit.

Dr Murtala Ahmad Rufai of Usman Danfodio University says Mr Turji was born to Fulani parents in Shinkafi local government area, and grew up as a pastoralist as well as working in a cattle market like his father.

“Bello Turji would be in the region of 27 to 30 years old. His father Usman was a well-known person in Shinkafi who related well with everyone,” Mr Murtala added.

Mr Turji had only completed primary education but went a bit further in terms of Islamic education.

His family was said to be against his newly chosen lifestyle, which made them to migrate to Kura town in Kano then to neighbouring Jigawa state.

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Zainab Sabitu

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