Due to the Nigerian government’s inability to decisively end fatal insecurity in the northwest region, primarily perpetrated by armed groups, many communities have had to form vigilante groups in a bid to defend their lives. In the Zuru Emirate of Kebbi State, the vigilante group is known as ‘Ya San Kai’ and, last week Sunday (March 7), it partnered with the military on a joint operation to repel armed bandits roaming the border between Kebbi and Niger states.

According to Daily Trust, the military realised that the bandits had the numerical, positional and arms advantage, and decided to opt for a tactical withdrawal. However, the Yan Sa Kai men refused, leading to the death of over at least 63 volunteer vigilantes. Speaking to Reuters, Usman Sani, head of Yan Sa Kai and a retired soldier, said that the group’s plan to attack the bandits in the Sakaba area of Kebbi state must have been leaked to the bandits. “They lay in ambush, hid their motorcycles in the shrubs, circled us and opened fire in different directions,” Sani said.

About 48-hours later, the entourage of the Kebbi state deputy governor, Sama’ila Yombe, was ambushed by bandits while visiting Kanya community of Danko Wasagu local government area. According to Dabai, who said he escaped narrowly, the gunmen had mixed in with members of the community and were equipped with “much heavier calibre weapons than AK-47. The ambush led to the death of at least 18 soldiers from the 223 battalion stationed in Zuru. Wives of the deceased soldiers have since protested the deaths of their husbands, with a viral video from the protests showing their heartbreak and bitterness.