A few months after a notorious bandit, Bello Turji, fled his base in Zamfara State to Tozai in Sokoto, another outlaw, Halilu Sububu, has also shifted his headquarters to a forest in Sokoto.
Several informed sources, including an intelligence officer, expressed different views on the reasons behind Mr Sububu’s movement but all of them confirmed the location of his new headquarters.
The terrorist was suspected to have organised the abduction of students of Zamfara State College of Agriculture and Animal Sciences in Bakura and over 80 other people in Gora village in Maradun Local Government Area of the state. He was born and brought up in Sububu in Shinkafi Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
Mr Sububu is one of the most feared bandits in the state and is believed to have strong ties with the infamous gun runner, Shehu Rekeb.
Mr Sububu, who is also called Halilu Rocket by his commanders, had lived in Sububu forest for years.
The forest is bounded by Maradun, Shinkafi, Bakura and Talata Mafara in Zamfara State and Raba, Tureta, Isa and Goronyo in Sokoto State.
All the sources who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES said Mr Sububu has now set up his base in Gwalama village, immediately after Suruddubu in Isa Local Government Area of Sokoto.
Basharu Guyawa, who has been following the activities of the bandits especially in Sokoto east and Zamfara north, said Mr Sububu fled to escape attacks from security personnel in Zamfara
“I believe the reason he left Zamfara is because of impending attacks but he has now got what he needs because his new base shares boundaries with Niger Republic. He can easily run to Niger Republic when there is danger,” Mr Guyawa said.
Mr Guyawa added that the relocation will enable Mr Sububu and his lieutenants to easily attack Isa and Sabon Birni communities.
An SSS official in Zamfara State however said the bandit must have relocated to restrategise.
“There are several issues but we believe Halilu and all those who have relocated did so to make new strategies because they have exhausted their plans for now. They may also be thinking of crossing over to Niger Republic to continue their heinous operations,” the intelligence officer said, asking not to be named as he had no permission to talk to journalists.
The officer said bandits in North-west Nigeria are believed to be working now with fellow felons from Niger Republic.
A resident of Galadi town, Hussaini Abdulaziz, said although Mr Sububu has left his base, he still visits his home in Sububu community.
“Even last week, our people in the area confirmed that Halilu visited his house. But he has left, possibly because of attacks by soldiers and the fact that they (bandits) have ransacked every one of our villages.”
Mr Abdulaziz said the bandits also probably consider operating in the Isa-Sabon Birni area as more lucrative than in Shinkafi.
Bandits’ relocation normal
A social historian, Murtala Rufai, said relocations and movements are normal among bandits.
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Rufai, who is a lecturer at the Department of History, Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, said bandits’ movement are classified into temporary and permanent.
“Sometimes they move to new bases to plan on how to undertake attacks. In such cases, whenever they are done with the attacks they normally return to their permanent bases. We also have situations whereby they move permanently for several reasons,” he said.
While confirming that Mr Sububu has left his known base, the university don said it could portend Turji and Sububu joining forces again.
“The attack on Dama village where soldiers and other security personnel were killed was undertaken by Turji, Halilu and Shehu Rekeb. They are now together. Turji was trained by Sububu but he is now more dangerous than his master,” Mr Rufai added.
He noted that the duo most be familiar with the terrain for them to relocate to that axis.