Armed bandits that were flushed out after they terrorised villagers in some farming communities in Katsina State are gradually returning to the area, Daily Trust reports.
Our correspondent in the area reports that normalcy was restored about five months ago following security measures adopted against the bandits. This made it possible for the villagers to return to their farming activities as commuters resume their shuttle along the Funtua-Birnin Gwari road.
However, many farmers in the affected areas are said to have abandoned harvest on their farms and fled for fear of unknown as the bandits later adopted another tactics of attacking and kidnapping their targets at midnight from their homes.
Daily Trust’s latest investigation shows that farming communities along Dandume-Birnin Gwari road, Maigora-Faskari-Yan Kara and Dandume-Sheme axis are mostly affected.
Alhaji Ya’u Dauda, a farmer, told this reporter that the bandits now abduct their targets at midnight.
“They now hardly strike in broad daylight, in most cases, they abduct their victims around 1am and 2am from their homes and it is clear those kidnappers are working closely with bad eggs amongst us who are serving as their informants,” he said.
According to Alhaji Ya’u, one Lawal Isiyaku and his daughter were abducted from their home at Unguwar Waziri, Dandume LGA. He said they were released after paying ransom running into millions of naira.
A victim, Alhaji Kasimu Sarkin Fili Dandume, said he spent seven days in the bandits’ den before his eventual release without paying a kobo.
“One Sunday, about four weeks ago, a gang of armed bandits broke into my house in Dungun Sambo village around 2am and abducted me. They demanded for N10 million for my release but God so kind those assigned to watch over me facilitated my release without paying anything,” he said.
Sarkin Fili added that the two bandits smuggled him and one other victim out of the den after an agreement that they will be paid them N200,000 each but before the payment, the bandits sighted soldiers on patrol and took to their heels and that was how we escaped without paying anything.
For Alhaji Isah Ja of Unguwar Bawa village, he resisted the bandits’ efforts to abduct him from his house until they threatened to shoot his legs.
“Around 1:30am, 12 bandits wielding six AK47 rifles broke into my house with the aim of abducting me which I openly resisted. One of the bandits politely advised me to comply otherwise they would shoot me on both knees so that I spend the money I didn’t want to give them in hospital.
“I therefore complied, they took me into the bush where I spent nine days with them. They later released me after the payment of N1.3 million. They also collected my motorcycle valued at N150,000 from my brother who took the money to them in the bush,” said Alhaji Isah Ja.
He added that after some weeks of his release, the bandits returned to the village with the aim of abducting the younger sister of a member of the House of Assembly member from her matrimonial home. The woman valiantly resisted their attempt, they later abducted one Musa Isah who was released after N2.2 million was paid to them.
Daily Trust gathered that in Barkan village, one Alhaji Garba Mai Kusumbi, was abducted from his farm recently.
Out of fear of the insecurity in the area, Alhaji Garba had earlier relocated to Funtua with his family but on that fateful Sunday, he went to inspect his farm and was abducted. Up to the time of filing this report, there was no information regarding his release.
The activities of the bandits, according to the residents, have affected harvesting of crops in the area as many farms were abandoned leaving produce behind.
“It has come to the extent that the bandits now tax farmers along Katsina-Zamfara and Katsina-Kaduna borders huge amounts of money before they are allowed to harvest their crops,” Yakubu Muhammad, another farmer said.
He added that one Alhaji Usman had paid N300,000 to the bandits to allow him harvest his soybeans but that after collecting the money, the bandits abducted two labourers alongside his driver and as well stole part of his harvested soybeans.
The most dangerous routes where travellers and farmers are prone to abduction, according to Yakubu Muhammad, are Dandume-Birnin Gwari, Mararabar Maigora-Faskari-Yan Kara, and Dandume-Sheme roads.
Alhaji Isah Ja commended effort of the Nigeria Police for arresting suspected informants of the bandits in the area.
“The police are doing a good job by arresting some miscreants terrorizing our area. The Federal Government should also double the number of military personnel patrolling the area as the bandits are increasing by the day,” he appealed.