Bandits Are My Best Customers-Bread Dealer

Three bread dealers nabbed for supplying bread to bandits in Kaduna state have confessed that bandits operating in some forests inside forests in some parts of the state are dream customers, the best any trader can possibly hope for. They made the confession while being paraded by operatives of the Force Intelligence Response Team, IRT.
Leader of the bread-selling syndicate, who is also alleged to be an informer to the bandits, disclosed that he maked N400,000 every month selling bread to bandits operating around Damari, Kidandan and Awala camps, through Galadimawa, along Birnin Gwari and Giwa Local Government Area of the state. He led operatives to his bread factory where 150 loaves of bread have been recovered. gathered that the IRT operatives who were trailing a middle aged man alleged to be an informer to the bandits terrorizing Zaria and environs, got a tip off on the activities of the bread seller. Under interrogation, Hassan Magaji, owner of the bakery, allegedly confessed that indeed, he has been supplying his products to the bandits since 2018.
The 29 year-old father of two, who claimed to be an ex-Okada (bike) rider, disclosed that he resorted to bread baking after losing his bike severally to the bandits. According to him, it was during one of such periods that one of his relations taught him how to bake bread. The business, he said, began to boom when he became a supplier to the bandits, some of whom are young men he knows.
“I was an Okada rider and was always losing my bike to bandits who sometimes ambushed us. Sometime ago, one of my relatives Mustafa Magaji came to our area and taught me how to bake bread and with the little money that I saved, I started the business.
I started with about N21,000 and now I make N400,000 a month. The boom in my business began when I started supplying bread to bandits. I was born and brought up here in Galadimawa and I know most of our young men who decided to become bandits,” he disclosed
Magaji also revealed that the bandits and members of the immediate community around which they have their camps are good neighbours with excellent relationship, a reason why they are never attacked. He added that though there were initial attacks, the bandits had to put an end to them when community leaders made the point clear to the bandits that they, members of the communities, were poor and harmless people who have nothing whatsoever to do with Banditry or related activities.
According to Magaji it was after the truce was made that he met one Mohammed, a bandit, who bought ten loaves of bread from him. Thereafter, business took an upward swing as Mohammed introduced him to other bandits.
“The community has a good relationship with them because they do not attack us. Initially when they started, they were raiding our villages but some of our community heads made them to understand that we were not the cause of their problem, that we were poor villagers also struggling to survive. This was why they stopped attacking us and many of them started coming out to mingle with the villagers. I normally wandered close to that area of the forest where they were staying.
It was during one of such trips in 2019 that I met Mohammed who bought ten loaves of bread and took my phone number. I sold the bread for N200 each instead of the regular market price of N170. The following day he called me that the bread was so delicious and that I should bring 20 more loaves.”
Magaji went on to narrate how his business relationship with the bandits was sustained. According to him, he met three other bandits in one of his meetings with Mohammed and they showed interest in buying more breads from him. He however, told them that he didn’t have ge wherewithal to produce as many loves as they wanted wherein they agreed to bankroll his entire production cost ahead.
“On the day that I took 20 loaves of bread to him, I met three others who were with him and they told me that they would like to be buying in large quantity. I however told them that I didn’t have enough cash and we agreed that they would pay the entire money before baking the bread.
They started with N20,000 worth of bread and gradually increased to N50,000 a day. After deducting the cost of ingredient, I make as much as N150,000 in a week.”
Magaji who gave an insight into the bandits’operation modus, disclosed that the bandits usually avoid meeting members of the host communities but had to deal with him necessarily. He added however that over the course of doing business with them, he was never allowed into their camps as the bandits chose to deal with him way outside for obvious reasons. He adds however that they always demanded for more bread when they made a haul, citing the University students abduction.
“We have a meeting point close to their hideout as I am not allowed to enter inside the bush. It is not even accessible with car. They don’t threaten me because we mind our business.
They were aware that people were avoiding them. That was why they normally encouraged me by paying for the bread before it was baked. I do not know about their kidnap business. I just sell bread and go. It was my workers that were arrested by the police while on their way to deliver the bread and they brought the police to my factory.
I observed that whenever they kidnapped many people, like during the kidnap of those university students, the quantity of bread that they bought increased. During that period I delivered up to N70,000 worth of bread everyday until recently when it dropped to N50,000 again.”
Magaji who claimed he has not really benefitted much from his romance with bandits besides his ability to marry a second wife, disclosed that the only way government can overcome the bandits is to recruit more security me as according to him,” We prefer police because they know their job.”
One of Magaji’s ally in the bread for bandits business is his hapless errand boy, Auwal Abubakar from Galadimawa who gets N500 and a loaf of bread for each of his day’s job. The 21 year-old confessed that he is aware that he was dealing with bandits but there was no way he could have been a member as his further would hunt and hand him over to security agencies by himself.
“I did not join them because of my family. I am aware that they are kidnapping people up and down but since I do not participate in kidnapping, there is no need to worry. My relations have warned me that one day the army will bomb that place and I will die.
The father of one who claims he is also a farmer who only traded in bread to augment his lean resources while waiting for his crops to grow, lamented that he only started working for Magaji a month ago.
“I am married with a daughter. I only attended Arabic school. I am a farmer and while waiting for the crops to grow, I normally looked for other sources of making money for my family. I started working for Magaji about three months ago. I am paid N500 and a loaf of bread every day. My job is to join and bake the bread and also sell them in the various communities. Most of our bread is sold to bandits. I know that they are bandits, everyone knows them.”
Abubakar who noted that his only contact with the bandits was purely on account of delivering bread, also confessed he never knew that it was a crime to do so even as he knew that his buyers were bandits who he was never afraid of even though they were not strangers entirely.
“I do not know that it is a crime to sell commodities, I am only selling my commodities and nothing else. It was at the police station that they told me that I was encouraging the bandits by giving them food.
I am not afraid that they will kidnap me because we mind our business. They don’t cover their faces and we know their village. The only thing is that they now live in the forest. They do not have families, it’s only some of their commanders that are married with children.”
Abubakar who noted that the bandits are too many inside the bush urged the government to give them what they want because “…the more bandits you kill, the more they recruit.”
Abubakar is not only Magaji’s collateral trade victim. Like Abubakar, Ibrahim, a 17 year-old primary school, also from Galadimawa, who also receives a loaf of bread and N500 daily duty remuneration, is another. Unlike Abubakar, Ibrahim is three years old in the business.
“I am from Galadimawa, I dropped out of Galadimawa primary school. My parents are farmers and they made me to join them in the farm instead of sending me to school. I have been saving money to buy a motorcycle but it was never enough. Luckily I got a job at Magaji local bakery about a year ago. I am paid N500 and a loaf of bread. Sometimes I would sell the loaf of bread instead of eating it. Part of my job is to sell bread in the neighbouring communities everyday.”
Rather ignorantly, Ibrahim talks about not being a bandit in one breathe but celebrate the windfall from having bandits as customer without realizing how deep into trouble he seems to be. That is, if added to the fact that he claims to know a lot of them without realizing that it is incumbent on him to so notify law enforcement agencies. He is also certain, like Abubakar, that his father would roast him alive if he dared to join the group like some of his peers,
“I am not a bandit because if I try it my father will hunt me down and hand me over to the police. He has warned me that those bandits used to kill innocent people which is wrong.
Those bandits are our best customers. Instead of trekking around begging people to buy bread, we would just deliver everything to them and go home.
I know a lot of them who have since relocated into the forest, they only come out when they have money to look for girls and visit their families.”

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