Terrorists fight each other in north, decimate notorious Dogo Gide’s group

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An ongoing rivalry between terror groups has decimated the camp of a notorious terrorist, Dogo Gide, residents who live in terrains controlled by the terror groups, and a security official, have told PREMIUM TIMES.

Al-Qaeda-affiliated Ansaru terrorists and members of the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) launched attacks against Mr Gide’s group, killing many of his gang members, although Mr Gide escaped. The latest fighting between the groups occurred in early December, our sources said.

Ansaru and ISWAP terror groups mainly target security and government officials although thousands of civilians have also been killed in terror activities linked to both groups. However, residents of rural communities in northern Nigeria affected by terror activities told PREMIUM TIMES that both groups also frown at the raids of villages by other terror groups such as that of Mr Gide. Sometimes, they fight and protect rivals from gaining access to villages under their grips.

“For instance, the bandits occasionally buy food or other things from local traders and would not want to pay but the ISWAP guys always forced them to pay,” Rabiu Alhaji, a displaced resident of Kurebe community in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State said, adding that the refusal to pay sometimes ended in clashes.

In June 2023, Mr Gide lost nine of his footsoldiers including his biological brother following a clash with ISWAP fighters in Kurebe. Local sources told PREMIUM TIMES that the Dogo Gide’s terror group had earlier killed one of the ISWAP members.

A failed alliance

At the time the terror kingpin was contending with stiff rivalry and attacks by ISWAP fighters in his Niger State strongholds, he moved to foster an alliance with Ansaru in Zamfara State, northwest Nigeria. Mr Gide also controls localities in the fringes of Babban Doka and Mai Tukunyan axes in Dansadau, Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara.

In 2016, some jihadists led by Abu Musab al Barnawi broke away from Boko Haram over what they described as unjust treatment — killing, slavery and kidnapping — of Muslims who do not subscribe to jihadis’ ideologies. They later pledged allegiance to the global terror group, Islamic State (IS). The schism would later culminate into a strong rivalry that eventually led to the death of Abubakar Shekau, a temperamental leader of Boko Haram in 2021.

The factional split paved the way for criminal collaboration between terror groups, the Institute for Security Studies explained.

Mr Gide leveraged such collaborations, wrote Jacob Zenn, an adjunct assistant professor on African Armed Movements and Violent Non-State Actors in World Politics at the Georgetown University Security Studies Program (SSP) and editor of Terrorism Monitor.

Mr Gide’s group allied with Ansaru to have access to sophisticated weapons sometime around August last year. Subsequently, the group claimed responsibility for taking down a military helicopter hovering above the sky in Chukuba, Shiroro LGA, killing soldiers who were returning to their base in neighbouring Kaduna State.

According to an intelligence official who works with the military in north-west Nigeria, the alliance Mr Gide entered with the Ansaru, did not last long.

The source, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said Mr Gide gave Mallam Abba, an Ansaru leader in Dansadau, over N200 million for the supply of arms and ammunition but they were not supplied.

“The money was squandered and that was the beginning of the problem,” he explained.

Following the multiple clashes between his group and fighters loyal to Ansaru and ISWAP, Mr Gide is now laying low in Zamfara, the source said.

“Almost all of his boys were killed by Ansaru and the military,” said the source who is familiar with banditry activities in Dansadau and other parts of Zamfara. “He then relocated to Gajeren Kauye community eastward Dansadau where he intended to continue battling with Ansaru fighters.”

“Presently Dogo Gide has no boys,” he said, explaining the kingpin could barely gather a convoy of 10 motorcycles since the setback.

“His recent fight with the Ansaru was not more than 40 days ago inside the forest of Gajeren Kauye bordering Katsina State. He ran away when the Ansaru, again, killed his boys. He came back to his new camp and they also followed him.”

Dogo Gide losing

“Dogo Gide is facing a major setback recently in his terrorist activities where he has lost hundreds of his footsoldiers in the last two months,” said Ishaq Kasai, chairman of Birnin Gwari Emirates of Progressives Union (BEPU).

Birnin Gwari is a terrorist-ravaged area in Kaduna State where Mr Gide and other bandit groups reign.

“This is due to three major factors,” he continued. “First, clashes with Ansaru in the Kuyello area of Birnin Gwari and ISWAP in Niger State.”

Secondly, Mr Kasai said, the mobilisation of community members and vigilantes against the terrorists, locally called bandits, is another thing that led to the weakness of Mr Gide’s group.

“Recently, local vigilantes killed about 40 bandits belonging to the Dogo Gide group in a clash at Katakaki bush of Kakangi in the western part of Birnin-Gwari. Since that clash, his footsoldiers never dare pass through the area,” he said.

The ongoing military offensive by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is another factor that has contributed to the kingpin’s setback, Mr Kasai noted.

President Bola Tinubu recently charged security chiefs to increase their offensive against terrorists, but Mr Kasai said the offensive was not enough.

“Operations should be complemented by troops on the ground,” he advised. “There are still hundreds of bandits camps in Kamuku forest of Birnin-Gwari, Kuduru forest of Chikun, Kuyambana forest of Zamfara and Niger forest covering Rafi and Mashegu LGAs where various bandits groups are using them as their hideouts. Thousands of captives are still in those forests.

“The military should organize coordinated operations with airstrikes and troops on the ground to complement the airstrikes to destroy the bandits’ camps in those forests.

“Locals are seeing his movement but even if they inform authorities, no action. The military should liaise with locals to track down the movement of Dogo Gide which is commonly from his original base of Babban Doka in Zamfara to his second base in Niger State.”

Dogo Gide’s Notorious Attacks

Mr Gide was one of the suspected masterminds of the 28 March 2022 attack on a Kaduna-bound train.

In July 2021, the terror kingpin and his ally Kachalla Ali also known as Ali Kawaje kidnapped over 100 students and eight teachers from the Federal Government College (FGC) in Birnin Yauri, Kebbi State. The kidnapped victims were later released in batches after payment of ransom.

The following year, three Chinese expatriates were kidnapped while two security guards and another Chinese national were killed at a construction site of the Zungeru Hydro Electric Power Dam project in Shiroro LGA. Although it was not clear how two of the expatriates regained freedom, one of them was later released from Mr Gide’s camp.

One of his most recent attacks was in August last year when he shared a video of how his group downed a military aircraft in Niger State.

Mr Gide rose to prominence in 2018 after killing his master, Buharin Daji, who was equally notorious.