By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo
Disturbed by the activities of bandits in Birnin-Gwari emirate of Kaduna State, a community leader in the emirate and former Managing Director of the Kaduna State Media Corporation(KSMC), Alhaji Zubairu Idris Abdulra’uf, has welcomed the directive by the Zamfara State Governor that people should resort to self defence , disclosing that already the people of his emirate have adopted that option.
Abdulrra’uf said in an interview that the incessant attacks on his people had completely paralysed economic activities in their rural communities and made travelling in the area so difficult or even impossible in some places.
According to him, “we have reached the point of no return. People are being pushed to the wall. Just yesterday , Randegi is one of the areas where these bandits have their routes through Zamfara State to Niger State.”
“Yesterday, the people of Randegi confronted these bandits who tried to overrun Randegi, a farming community, and they succeeded in dislodging these bandits. So, I think our people are now ready if the government cannot perform its constitutional function.”
The former broadcaster with DW Radio said the bandits have for over 2 years,imposed tax on the Birni-Gwari farmers , stressing that
“yes, N200 million was paid to bandits in Randegi district alone.”
” When you talk of Birni-Gwari Local Government as a whole, it’s between N300 million to N400 million paid to these bandits.”
“There are 3:stages of paying these types of taxes to these bandits. You have to pay pre-season and mid-season when the crops are about to start yeilding. You will pay these bandits because they will not allow you to have access to your farm.”
“Then, at the end of the season when you are harvesting, you will give these bandits money before you access your farm.”
“And when you access your farm after paying these taxes, they will now tell you that apart from giving them money, you will give a ratio of 2 bags to 10 bags of all the assorted grains.”
“For the past three years, this is what Birnin-Gwari people have been enduring and we are now in a state of hopelessness and frustration.”
“When people are fraustrated, they will now look for the best option for themselves which is to arm themselves if the government can not protect them,.”
“We are living in a situation where people can no longer work or even travel one kilometre from Birni Gwari town to other areas and it’s the same thing that we have in all the districts in Birnin Gwari.”
“If something is not done, we are going to have food crisis. Birnin-Gwari Gwari used to produce at least 700 metric tonnes of assorted grains but now people cannot access their farms.”
“There are many cases, since the beginning of this rainy season, that people are being abducted on their way to the farm and even the cattle they use for farming are being collected from them,” he said.