In Nigeria’s northwest region, each emerging morning is met with echoes of tragedies.
Men and women and children clutch their radios in wooden decks at the threshold of their huts to hear the news of attacks and neighbours who died. Some days, smokes of burnt houses in far-flung villages will float into the clouds until droplets of the spring rain smother their charred ruins. When the deaths come in this country, which hasn’t known the pleasure of peace for decades, people typically try to absorb it as a routine of life.
If this story was told some months ago, only Boko Haram, a dreaded jihadist group, would come to mind. But a new group, whose brutality exceeds that of Boko Haram, is taking the country to a breaking point.
Pundits call them “motorcycle bandits.”
So, who are Nigeria’s motorcycle bandits?
There is limited insight into the group. But most people regard them as aggrieved cattle herders whose minor clashes with farmers over space for land and water has now been hijacked by criminal gangs. They also rely on ransoms from kidnapped individuals to stay active and equipped.