Nigeria’s north-western Zamfara state government has suspended a Muslim traditional leader (emir) after a suspected kidnapping gang leader was appointed a traditional chief.
Adamu Aliero Yankuzo, a wanted suspected gang leader, was appointed and installed as the chief of the Fulani community (Sarkin Fulani) in Yandoton Daji area on Saturday.
It reportedly came as part of a peace deal with gangs after they agreed to lay down arms.
But sceptics say similar agreements in the past were not honoured by armed criminal gangs behind wanton killings and kidnappings for ransom in the region.
Witnesses told the BBC the Saturday “turbaning” ceremony was attended by several government officials and hundreds of suspected bandits on motorbikes with no arms.
Many Nigerians have expressed shock and anger following the appointment. Some say this has cast a shadow on the authorities’ fight against the armed gangs.
The Zamfara state government has now suspended the Emir of Birnin ‘Yandoto, who allegedly turbaned the leader, and also dissociated itself from the appointment.
Zamfara state secretary Kabiru Balarabe Sardauna said in a statement that a committee had been set up to investigate the ‘”circumstances leading to the action of the emir”.
Mr Yankuzo was declared wanted by the police two years ago but was never arrested.
Police had accused him of being a leader of a gang that was believed to be behind a number of kidnappings and deaths of over 50 people in Katsina state in 2020.