By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
MANY indigenes of Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State who live in other places have not travelled home for many years because of fear for their lives.
This is because the once serene, peaceful and friendly Kaduna-Birnin Gwari Road that connects the southern to the northern part of the country has become the epicentre of killing, kidnapping and other life-threatening activities in recent years.
Not only have armed militia variously known as bandits, ritualists and hoodlums taken over the stretch of road but they have been so daring and confrontational, attacking, maiming and dispossessing their victims with boldness even in broad daylight. As a result, the once-popular road has now become deserted as commuters prefer to take other routes to Lagos, no matter the distance or how bad the road may be.
But for the natives of Birnin Gwari and surrounding villages, their culture, social life and farming, which is their major means of livelihood, have been disrupted as bandits now occupy their farms. Life is no longer what it used to be for them. Going towards the direction of Birnin Gwari these days is like handing over one’s life to death despite all the efforts being put in place to free the axis from the stranglehold of the bad elements.
And the natives are scared to their bones. They have reported their predicament to the state and Federal Government, leading to the deployment of many security agents to secure the area but to no avail.
Despite the deployment of forces to the area, the malevolent elements have also stepped up their nefarious onslaughts on innocent passers-by and natives who dare to cross their paths in recent days. The last few days have been most worrisome to the natives as many were killed and others taken captives including children.
As the attacks escalated within the week, the Chairman of the Birnin Gwari Progressives Union, BEPU, Barr. Salisu Haruna, lamented that the New Year 2021 started on a sour note for the people.
Haruna recalled that on Sunday, January 3, 2021, armed bandits laid siege to innocent travellers at Zankoro, along the dreaded Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna Highway, killing nine people including three infants that were on their way to a ceremony at Doka, Birnin-Gwari Local Government.
He regretted that the following day the bandits came out at the same Zankoro at about 9.00 am, shot sporadically and abducted unspecified number of people and wounded six others now receiving treatment at Buruku along Kaduna-Birnin-Gwari Highway.
Haruna said: “In the last two weeks, bandits terrorising the people of Birnin Gwari, especially those travelling along Birnin Gwari-Funtua and Birnin Gwari-Kaduna highways have become intensely aggressive as they continue to kill and abduct innocent citizens unabated. With dismay, Birnin Gwari Progressives Union, BEPU, frowns at the seeming laissez-faire attitude towards banditry in Birnin Gwari area by the governments at all levels.
“Hence, BEPU tersely calls on the Kaduna State Government to note that there are cases of kidnappings and killings every day along Birnin Gwari-Kaduna and Birnin Gwari-Funtua highways. There are more than 40 abductees currently at the mercy of the bandits who were kidnapped between December 20, 2020, and Monday, January 4, 2021; some of them have been reported terribly ill.
“BEPU, therefore, calls on the government to deploy immediate response squad to mount offensive operations along Birnin Gwari -Kaduna and Birnin Gwari- Funtua highways. We also urge the government to sit up to its responsibilities and protect the lives and property of defenceless people of Birnin Gwari whose bloods are spilt daily by the bandits.
We seriously urge the government to launch an offensive attack to neutralize bandits terrorising Birnin Gwari increasingly whose skills and warfare strategies are advanced every day. Enough is enough.”
However, the Kaduna State Government has encouraged citizens to cooperate with the security forces by volunteering information on suspicious activities.
The Commissioner in charge of the Ministry of Internal Security, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, has assured that the state will engage with the representatives of the people in finding an answer to the security challenges in Birnin Gwari axis of the state.