The Bandit Warlords of Zamfara

Production: BBC Africa Eye
Country: UK
Year: 2022
Duration: 50'
Directed by: Yusuf Anka, Daniel Adamson, Kai Lawrence

Although it rarely makes international news, north western Nigeria is in the grip of a truly frightening conflict. In Zamfara state, bandit gangs routinely raid villages, attack drivers, kidnap civilians, abduct schoolchildren, and kill anyone who resists. Thousands have died and close to a million people are now displaced from their homes. Despite the scale of the suffering, this conflict remains poorly understood—in part because it’s so dangerous to report from rural Zamfara.

And so basic questions have gone unanswered: Who are the bandits? What do they want? How and why did this violence get so out of hand? Searching for answers, BBC Africa Eye has spent more than two years tracking down and speaking to some of the most notorious bandit warlords in Zamfara. At huge personal risk, a young Nigerian journalist and law student, Yusuf Anka, visited bandit leaders in remote encampments across the state—including one of the men who, in February 2021, abducted nearly 300 girls from a school in Jangebe.

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