At the age of 17, Sahid Aminu and his younger brother Mustapha Aminu who was 15, were allegedly forced by their father to abandon school in 2015 and join a terrorist group known as Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimeena fii Bilaa dis Sudan.
They were among nine suspected terrorists recently arrested by detectives attached to the Inspector General of Police, Intelligence Response Team (IRT).
The group popularly known as Ansarul is said to be responsible for the recent kidnapping of two expatriates working with Tricata Ltd and were also alleged to have participated in the abduction of Magajin Garin of Daura in Kastina state. Their ultimate goal however is to take over Nigeria.
“When I was converted, they told us that we were fighting against the Nigerian government. They made us believe that when we take over Nigeria, our families will become millionaires and own houses in Abuja. I was placed on N100,000 monthly allowance to stay in town and be running errands. It is also my responsibility to collect arms from our members in Sokoto”, one of the terror suspects, Mustapha confessed during interrogation.
Other suspects are Shuaibu Ahmadu, Aminu Shuaibu, Ishak Khalid, Yusuf Abubakar, Awal Umar, Abubakar Isah Muhammed, and Abubakar Mustapha, all of who confessed to be active members of the group.
According to a police source, their arrest is a continuation of the manhunt for other fleeing suspects who participated in the kidnap of Magajin Garin Daura. Still on their wanted list are leaders of the Ansarul gang simply identified as Maitukwane and one Aliyu based in Sokoto who has been supplying arms to the group for years.
It is believed that the gang leader is the one who has been sending threat messages to Tricata Ltd and also negotiating with Managing Director of the company on how N50 million would be paid to the terror group yearly as a condition to guarantee the safety of their expatriates in the region.
According to the suspects, Ansarul group sent several of them to Libya for training while several others are still there. In the course of their arrest, 204 rounds of Ak47 live ammunition, military uniforms, operational vehicles, drugs and foodstuff meant to be conveyed to their gang members inside Birnin Gwari forest were recovered.
How it began
Recounting his journey into the crime world, one of the suspects, Shuaibu claims that one Mahmoud who he met at a mosque in Kaduna in 2015 convinced him to join the terror group. “I am from Kastina and currently 29 years old. I refused to marry early because I wanted freedom to make money first. I dropped out of school due to financial problems and was surviving by doing menial jobs till I was able to raise money and buy a small gulf car, which I was using as a taxicab. Normally I make as much as N5,000 daily and this is the job that I have been doing for years even as a member of Ansarul.
“It was sometime in 2015 that I met one Mahmoud in the mosque and after each prayer we will hang out and discuss about life. I was a member of the Izala Muslim movement and we normally gather for prayers and to listen to lectures from the Imam. He was the one that told me about Ansarul and that I would make more money if I became a member. He explained to me that we’ll be fighting the cause of Allah and I will also have the opportunity to travel to Libya. I was also happy to join them because I believe that they are not like Boko Haram group that was busy killing fellow Muslims.
“It was the excitement of going to Libya that convinced me to join them. As soon as I met Maitukwane, the leader of the group in Nigeria, he asked me to join the medical team. This was how I was trained as a doctor in the camp. My duty was to attend to the sick and wounded. I know that they kidnap people regularly as a way to make money since government does not allow them to operate freely. We were operating freely before army and police scattered all of us and we went deeper into the forest. It’s only some of us who still had our families outside that were moving around town undercover.
“Three years ago, I was one of the members drafted to go to Libya and assist them in fighting against their government. It was Ahmdumahid who was in-charge of our own group in Kaduna that sent five of us to Libya at the same time.
On getting to Libya, I was drafted to work at their clinic. The Ansarul group in Libya was under serious attack from their government and a lot of them were wounded. During my spare time, I normally went to the field to learn how to become a professional sniper. We were not sent there to make money, all they did was to give us N50,000 every three months as allowance.
We all went there with the belief that we were fighting a good cause. We were not the only Nigerians sent to Libya at that time, different sets came from different areas in Nigeria to assist them. I spent about a year in Libya before I was asked to return because our camp in Nigeria needed my skills as a doctor.”
On how exactly he became a doctor, Shuaibu said that he never attended any medical school but was trained by a professional doctor. “We have members who are professional doctors. They normally come from the city to the bush to attend to the wounded if there is need. It became risky because Nigerian government could catch them.
This was why the few of us were sent to the doctor to teach us the job. I do not know his name, we all call him doctor. I spent about two months with him and learnt the job. I can stitch open cuts, attend to deep wound and remove bullets. To help the wounded to recover, I normally gave them tramadol injection and chloramphenicol injection. If the matter was so bad, I would call the doctor for advice.
“I also attended to victims who were sick and during my spare time, I taught new converts. I never knew that police was after me despite how careful I was. In my area, they know me as a taxi driver. I was surprised when I received a message to collect money from one of our sponsors, only to walk into the trap set by the police. I am sorry and will like to be given an opportunity to leave the group.”
Mum to blame
On his part, Sahid Aminu blamed his mother for not fighting to stop him from joining Ansarul group when his father withdrew him from school.
“I was 17 years and in my final year in school when my father summoned me and said that I had to withdraw from school. I attended Government College, Kaduna. My mother knew about it but she was more interested in keeping her marriage than saving my future. Since she did not object, I had no choice but to follow my father’s instruction. My father was a senior member of the Ansarul group before police arrested him.
“As soon as I was converted in 2015, I was sent to Libya for training. I was supposed to be in the field, so my training was more of how to survive during war. They told us that if you were trained there, you would experience real fighting between government and our members.
I was there for just six months before I had an accident and they had to cut two of my fingers. I was driving our operational jeep when I fell into a ditch. They said that I could not continue with my training, so I was sent back home.
Back in Nigeria, I was told to go and learn how to sew cloth so that I would be staying in town to assist them when the need arose. I had to learn how to sew cloth, so that no one would suspect that I belonged to the group. They would send money to my account and I would help to buy the things they need to survive in the bush.”
He claimed to have also participated in few kidnap operations in the past. “I was among those that kidnapped the foreigners in the construction site in Niger state. I came to the camp that day and they asked me to join them since I have some experience. I don’t know how much was collected but at the end I was given N200,000.
The second one was in Zamfara state; we blocked the highway and kidnapped people inside several cars that we stopped. I was given about N50,000 because we did not make much money from them.”
Go for our leaders
On how to stop the activities of the terrorist organization, Sahid advised that police should concentrate on arresting their leaders. “Initially, they told us that we were fighting against non-Muslims but I realized that majority of the people that we kidnapped were Muslims.
I have not achieved anything and the worst of it all is that I can no longer go back to school. I will like to leave the group but if the leaders are still alive, they will order that I be killed. Let police arrest all our leaders and others will scatter. If not, they are wasting their time because they are busy visiting the mosques and converting more people. If we die, they will replace us.”