Bandits kill 4, abduct 100 in Katsina

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Bandists have murdered four people, including a traditional ruler, and abduct over 100 others from 14 communities in Mashegu and Rafi local government areas of Niger State in the last three weeks.

It was gathered that more than half of abductees were taken hostage while working on their farms.

The deceased persons were said to have been killed during an invasion in Mashegu Local Government.

Daily Trust reported that the the communities attacked in Mashegu included Sabon-Rijiya, Tsohon-Rami, Bakwai-Bakwai, Mulo, Kawo-Mulo, Nasarawa-Mulo, Mai-Azara, Foje, Mutun-Daya, Beji, Gidan-Malam, Bokuta, Chetaku and Gbazhi, forcing residents to flee to Ibbi town and other safer places in the local government area.

In Rafi and part of Shiroro local governments, 61 farmers were reportedly kidnapped in Gidigori, Pandogari and Durumi communities in the last two weeks.

Residents said while bandits had also imposed N3 million tax on each of the communities as a condition to stop kidnapping them and allow them to harvest their farm produce, only one of the communities had been able to pay.

The bandits also reportedly steal harvested food produce.

Residents who spoke with the newspaper said rural communities in Mashegu, Mariga, Kontagora, Rafi and Shiroro were still not as safe as widely publicised in some sections of the media.

One of them, Mohammed Sanusi, said that one of the vigilantes he simply identified as Abubakar was shot dead after he was abducted alongside other villagers on Thursday when bandits attacked Mulo and adjoining communities during which the village head of Mulo, Alhaji Usman Garba, was also killed.

“Attacks have been going on for the past three weeks in villages in Mashegu Local Government. Right now, over 50 people are in the hands of bandits. One vigilante was killed in Tsohon-Rami on Sunday. He was kidnapped alongside other people in Mulo and other communities on Thursday and he was shot dead. Another vigilante was also killed on his farm in Tsohon-Rami recently. They met him harvesting his crops on his farm and they killed him with a cutlass. Right now, we cannot harvest our crops. Maize, guinea corn, beans and soya beans are getting spoiled on our farms,” he said.

Another resident, Abdulrahman Inuwa, said that residents of Fage and Mulo have all fled their homes.

“They ask villages to pay N3 million tax each; it is Nasarawa Mulo that has been able to pay the tax imposed on communities. One of the three people abducted in Mulo was released and he was asked to go back home and look for money to secure the release of the remaining people. On Sunday, another boy was abducted in Fage village but he was released when he told them that he was from Nasarawa Mulo that had paid their tax. So, they released him, saying that residents of Nasarawa Mulo have settled them.

“Nobody goes to harvest his crops now. Who will go and get kidnapped? You are not with your farm produce and you get kidnapped again. Where do you get money to pay the ransom? What we are left with now is prayers. The situation has not improved in our area. How will it improve when we don’t have conventional security in our area? Up till now, four village heads are in their captivity. It is only the police in Mashegu that do go on patrol and they are not more than 10 in number with only one vehicle and the vehicle is not even in a good condition,” he added.

Inuwa called for the quick intervention of the state and federal governments to enable them to harvest their crops.

Another villager who spoke on condition of anonymity said the farmer had abandoned their farms.

“Most of the people, over 50 of them, were kidnapped while harvesting on their farms. Some people were from Bakwai-Bakwai, Sabon-Rijiya and Mulo villages. Some people they kidnapped were visiting labourers who came from other places to work for us as labourers.

“The village heads were kidnapped alongside their sons. They later released the two village heads and held their sons. The village head of Gwaji later died at home due to trauma and torture he underwent before he was released on Thursday. They also kidnapped the village head of Kizhi.”

It was gathered that bandits demanded a ransom of N5 million for each of the abductees.

However, in Rafi and Shiroro local government areas, residents said the attackers had also returned since the beginning of harvesting season, stopping them from harvesting their crops.

A farmer who is currently an internally displaced person in Kagara, the headquarters of Rafi Local Government, Ismaila Aliyu, said, “We see them almost every day.”

He added, “In the last two weeks, 15 people were kidnapped in Gidigori; 6 people were kidnapped in Pandogari last week. About 40 people were kidnapped at Durumi. Also, Kusherki, Madaka, Hanna-Wanka, Kukkoki, Hannah-Wanka, Durumi, Kambari, Kalaibo, Allawa axes and Madaka people have not been able to harvest their crops because Rafi and Shiroro local governments are not safe.”

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