Nigerian troops deployed to Moriki, Zamfara State, on Monday, intercepted a motorcyclist with a bag full of ammunition, which he disguised as a bag of rice. Military sources briefed on the incident said while the motorcyclist escaped, the bike and the bag of ammunition were captured.
The bag contained about 4653 x rods of 7.62mm (special), the sources said. Military authorities said the interception occurred after they got a tipoff that arms were being transported in the Moriki area of Zamfara State, following which they mounted an emergency stop and search checkpoint.
“On mounting the checkpoint not quite long, a motorbike arrived at the location with a bag looking like a bag of rice,” a military source briefed about the incident said.
With the motorcyclist refusing to stop for routine checks, sources said he was chased but escaped, leaving behind the vehicle and the bag stuffed with bullets.
Soldiers and the police have been urged to brace for the new tactics used by criminals in peddling arms and ammunition.
Zamfara, a state in the northwestern region of Nigeria, has in recent years been a hotbed of banditry that has disrupted the peace of the state.
The state routinely faced problems of intercommunal clashes, farmer-herders conflict and kidnapping for ransom, which have caused deaths and human displacement.
At the heart of this tragedy is the free flow of light arms. Nigeria Security Tracker, a brainchild of Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) which monitors levels of violence by collating local media reports, said casualties have surged over the years.
According to the tracker, in 2018, 288 people were killed, a significant rise from 52 in 2017. Recorded deaths climbed to 262 in the first four months of 2019.
Poverty and illiteracy have been said to fuel the conflicts in the state. UBEC said with 422,214, Zamfara has the eighth highest out-of-school children in Nigeria. Poverty rate at 67.5 per cent in the state is higher than the national average of 62 per cent, according to report by Premiumtimesng.