Zamfara State Gives Award for “Best in Terrorism”

July 19, 2022

If you only look at Zamfara State through the lens of news headlines, it’s not one of the best places to live in Nigeria. Neither is it showing up on your bucket list nor crossing your mind for a relaxing vacation.

For starters, Zamfara is home to the highest number of poor Nigerians. And to make that worse, it’s also one of the most terrorised places in Nigeria. 

These are the kinds of problems that make a government feel useless. And the Zamfara government has been doing everything possible to contain the situation and improve the state’s image.

One of the most controversial attempts to end terrorism in the state was an ill-advised amnesty programme championed by Governor Bello Matawalle when he inherited the terrorism problem in 2021. He tested the friends with benefits package with the terrorists for a couple of years. All the terrorists had to do was swear to stop terrorising and settle for some juicy government benefits. Nothing out of the ordinary.

The amnesty programme didn’t work out quite well as Zamfara still suffered a lot of terrorist attacks. So, Matawalle shut down the programme in 2021 and moved on to other radical ideas like trying to arm residents to defend themselves. But as we’ve now seen, amnesty for terrorists hasn’t completely disappeared in Zamfara. How?

Meet Adamu Aleru, ambassador of war

In 2019, the Katsina State Command of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) declared Adamu Aleru, a wanted man.

They accused Aleru of leading a deadly group terrorising communities in Katsina and Zamfara. The group was connected to the killing of over 50 residents in just one village in Katsina State.

Aleru is such a high-value terrorist that the police placed a bounty of ₦5 million on his head, dead or alive. You could become a millionaire just by running into this guy at the market and helping the police arrest or kill him. But either no one ran into him in any market since 2019 or they didn’t like money. So, Aleru simply went about his terrorist ways until he made a controversial public appearance recently.

Meet Adamu Aleru, ambassador of peace

The Emir of Yandoton Daji in Zamfara, Aliyu Marafa, honoured Aleru as the Sarkin Fulani (Chief of the Fulani) of the Yandoton Daji Emirate in a public ceremony on July 16th, 2022.

The crowning of a wanted terrorist kingpin was apparently a compromise to establish peace in the areas where he’s left a trail of blood. It’s the kind of material you only see in films.

ALSO READ: How to Become a Gun Owner in Nigeria

Government officials, including Zamfara’s Commissioner of Security and Home Affairs, Ibrahim Mamman Tsafe, were special guests at the ceremony. 

Also at the event? Police officers. But Aleru wasn’t arrested because all of them must hate the smell of ₦5 million. That’s the only explanation that makes sense.


Aleru’s crowning obviously sends a terrible message about Nigeria’s “war on terror”, so many people were understandably horrified by the ceremony. The public outrage that followed was strong enough to force the Zamfara State government to pretend to fix the situation. 

Even though government officials were at the ceremony, Governor Matawalle “dissociated” his administration from the ceremony that honoured Aleru. He also suspended the Emir with immediate effect.

And in typical Nigerian politician fashion, he set up a six-member committee to investigate how the whole thing happened.

As with many Nigerian committees, expect to never hear about this issue ever again. But the damage has already been done. The Aleru incident proves, once again, that terrorists can get away with terrorism in Nigeria if they’re good enough at terrorising. That’s not good for anyone’s “war on terror”.

ALSO READ: Fast and Furious 10? Zamfara Is Using Fancy Cars to Fight Insecurity

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