FORUM

Despite Ransom Payment, Bandits Still Kill Our People; Abduct Wives, Daughters — Farmers Lament

Incidentally, Shiroro LGA is one of the worst-hit by banditry in the state and the evil men are not in a hurry to stop their onslaught on people of the area.

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According to a report by Vanguard, farmers in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State are now more worried than their counterparts elsewhere in the state because they have reached the end of their wits regarding what to do in order to survive the persistent attacks and seizure of their men by bandits.

Incidentally, Shiroro LGA is one of the worst-hit by banditry in the state and the evil men are not in a hurry to stop their onslaught on people of the area.

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What worries them most is that many in the area have lost their wives, husbands, children and property since the criminal elements have made it a policy to descend on them at will. As predominant farmers, this rainy season is the time for them to recoup their losses and forge ahead, but it is becoming one of the worst periods of their lives.

They are ready to go back to their ancestral homes to begin life anew by farming but they cannot. Findings by Arewa Voice indicate that in their earnest bid to return to their ancestral homes and carry on with farming, the only occupation they know and have been depending on as their mainstay, the natives entered into verbal “agreements” with the bandits to allow them go back to their farms, but the “oath” taken by the two sides have severally been broken by the bandits.

Co-convener, Concerned Shiroro Youths of Niger State, Comrade Bello Ibrahim, explained that the situation in the area had degenerated to an extent that farmers in most communities in the areas have to contribute money to bribe the bandits to allow them access to their farms.

“My area is very wide because it has eight political wards across River Shiroro. Allawa, for instance, has security presence and that is why people from that area have returned to their farms. But the rest of the places don’t have any protection from the bandits and they cannot return to their farms.

“However, the locals went into a local arrangement with the bandits which now allows them to go back to their homes. The arrangement is that you pay a certain amount of money to the bandits and also bribe them by providing them with motorcycles.

The number of motorcycles given to them depends on the locality. Even the cash paid them also differs. Some three or more communities may come together to contribute the money.

“I know of a village that paid N2.5m and one motorcycle to the bandits to allow them access to their farms. However, the problem they still have after these payments and after returning home is that the communities in question have now become lawless.

Lawless in the sense that the bandits after collecting the ransom come in and go out of the communities at will. That is the situation right now.

“Like in Kurebe, for instance, they have a pathetic experience. These bandits are of two groups. One of them has affiliation with Boko Haram and this Boko Haram group came to Kurebe, marched the villagers to the Mosque and ordered that whoever has grown up girls from 13 years upward should get them married soonest.

The bandits brought Christians and Muslims in Kurebe to the Mosque and warned them to comply with their directives to get their daughters married off by them or face their wrath,” the youth leader revealed.

“The effect of all these is that if they like your wife, they just point to her and take her away and you have nothing to say. Based on these developments, most farmers have not returned home to farm and this poses a great danger not only for food security across the country but a clear indication that all is not yet well in terms of security of lives and properties of the people in Shiroro Local Government.

Some farmers in the area interviewed also corroborated what the youth leader said, adding that most painful is the fact that despite “settling” the bandits, they still come back to unleash terror on them, destroying their cash crops and even kill some of them and kidnap others.

One of the farmers, Yakubu Ibn Yahaya, a farmer from Shiroro, said there was no indication that the security situation in the areas would ever improve to encourage them to return to their farms in the near future.

“Honestly, there is no security as it is. We farmers contribute money to give to bandits to allow us to farm for this planting season but regrettably, they still come back to attack us after collecting the ransom. As I am talking to you, about 80 percent of our people have been displaced by bandits, while the remaining ones have taken the risk to still stay back and farm in their troubled communities.”

Another farmer, Zubairu Adamu, who is also from Shiroro Local Government said that having been attacked severally most of the farmers in the area had to flee their homes in order to save their lives and were not in a hurry to return home.

“There is no way I can return home given the level of attacks being unleashed by the hoodlums now,” Adamu said.

“We contributed money before the rainy season based on agreement between the farmers and the bandits that they would allow us to farm, but to our surprise, when we started farming, some of them came back and started destroying the ripe and matured maize we were about to harvest.

“Apart from destroying the farm produce, they also kidnap our children and at times our wives,” he lamented.

Yakubu Yahaya, another farmer in Gurmana, described his experience with the bandits thus: “They will come in the evening, sit with us, chat with us and when going back, they will forcefully go away with one or two of our daughters and at other times, with our wives and sometimes bring them back the next day.

“We don’t know why they usually take them away and they will tell us not to talk or ask questions. If they see you with an Android phone, they will insist on using it, and we have no option than to give it to them. This is an indication that we are not safe yet.”

He, therefore, appealed to government to wade into the matter in order to save the lives and property of people from the area.

“What we do at times is to leave our families in the town, then go and farm in the villages. But we will later go back home in the afternoon because we cannot spend much time on our farms again. But the question now is: for how long can we continue to live under perpetual fear?” Yahaya asked.

Categories: FORUM

Tagged as: Naija News

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