By John Mkom, Jalingo.
Villagers from Maidanu hamlet in Gashaka local government area of Taraba state have called on the Federal Government to extend search for the recent kidnapped Dapchi girls to Gashaka National Gumrti Park following the recent visit to the Park by an unknown helicopter.
Gashaka Gumti National Park is the Nigerian largest National Park that covers 6600 land square meter at Nigeria/Cameroon bolder, the land is eighteen times more than Lagos state.
The villagers who spoke to Vanguard confirmed the constant landing of a suspected helicopter in the Gashaka Gumti Park said the activities of the unknown helicopter indicates that people are being feed or suspected criminal activities were going on in the Park.
Mallam Ajamu Usman a villager from Maidanu who spoke to Vanguard disclosed that on the 1/3/2018 a helicopter landed at a very high mountain which is located deep inside the National Park around 6 pm and left after two hours.
“We were at a lower mountain for hunting late in the evening on Wednesday, we were eleven, we saw the helicopter landing on the third mountain, the area is a difficult terrain that one can hardly trace what is happening”
“Of recent, there have been high level of criminal activities by unknown gun men in the Park, there has been very high level of robbery and kidnapping that is been conducted in the Park, there is also numerous wildlife animals in the Park which hardly allow human beings to go round”
“The same helicopter came back some days ago at about 8 pm and left around 9 pm, another one came around 5 am and left 6 30 am the day, the constant visits of the helicopter is indicating that something suspicious in happening in the area”
Vanguard, investigation revieiled that more than eight persons who were kidnapped and taken to Gashaka Park pay ransome before they were freed, these same people who spoke to Vanguard disclosed that they were taken toward Maidanu forest.
One of the kidnapped victims who refused to give his name for security reasons said his kidnappers did not wear mask, he said he could not know any of them nor understand the language which his kidnappers were speaking, he doubted if they were speaking any of Nigerian languages.
“Book Haram have relocated to Gashaka Gumti Park with their activities, they are kidnapping people and collecting money to help their lively hood, I have names of those who were kidnapped”
“Tanko Mamuda Karanti, the younger brother of the Taraba state commissioner for ministry of Social Development Mr. Musa Karamti was kidnapped and Ransome was paid, Tanko is the village head (Joro) of Karanti”
Mr. Aloy, an Igbo business man, Mr. Francis also an Igbo business man, Nyako Mbanga, Mr. Emmanuel, all the people of Karanti area were kidnapped between December last year to February this year”
“Others who were kidnapped includes Matan Sabo, and Mallam Giwa, a timber dearer, he was kidnapped at Jimtari, all these people I mentioned were taking to that same direction and they told us the same story which I have told you here”
“Two things need to be checked, both Book Haram and armed Fulani men are grouping in that difficult terrain, the federal government must take these things seriously so as to check insecurity in Gashaka and at Mambila Plateau”
The chairman Gashaka local government council Mallam Muhammed Gayam confirmed that there have been a high level of criminal activities in the Gashaka Gumti park.
Although the chairman could not confirm the landing of the suspected helicopter, he said that kidnapping and robbery activities were on a high rate in the Park.
Muhammed said the council has organized prayers in Churches and Mosques for God’s intervention over the matter.
He further said security were mobilized to check the criminal activities happening in the Park.
It will be recalled that sometimes in 2017, there was a report of a suspected landing of a helicopter within Gashaka Gumti National park, a development that triggered series of checks by security men.