“IN SOME VILLAGES, NOBODY REARS CATTLE, SHEEP ANY LONGER BECAUSE BANDITS KEEP COMING FOR THEM”
Rampaging foreign and domestic bandits’ violence and abductions is literally choking people and agriculture to death in Zamfara and other states, a member of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Bello Hassan Shinkafi has said.
Speaking with our reporter, Shinkafi who represents Shinkafi/Zurmi Federal Constituency expressed concern that the widespread insecurity in parts of the North portends serious food insecurity for Nigeria as too many farmers now feel insecure to visit their farms due to rampant killings and abductions.
“I am telling you authoritatively, that our farmers are now doing next to nothing here (in Zamfara); it is rainy season but now, when some of them go to the farm, these bandits follow people and kill them on their own farms.
“Even yesterday in my own constituency in Shinkafi, they killed about five people in the farm – right there in their farm; it is not a mere story!
“In many cases, if they catch you and they did not kill you, they will abduct and go with you and then, ask for a ransom; the ransom they usually demand, even the entire village cannot afford to pay such amount.
“They force you to hurriedly sell your car, house and anything you have; the insecurity issue is too serious here,” he stated while noting that even though the military and security agencies are doing their best, the security challenge is too widespread and serious.
“Government and our security personnel are making all efforts towards curbing the situation but one of the major problems we have is that nobody really knows what those people (bandits) really want; we do not know their motivation or why they are doing it.
“ If it is somebody that has a motive behind what he is doing, at least, that motive can be addressed somehow but these are people that just keep killing and you don’t even know where they are coming from – majority of them are partially Nigerian, many are non-Nigerian.
“Sometimes, they come out at 3 pm and operate with impunity till night time; the military would go there, a military helicopter could be in the air but at the end of the day, the military may not kill any of the bandits, maybe because of many village people there.
According to Shinkafi, the situation is now so bad that entire inhabitants of many villages have completely stopped rearing cattle, sheep and other domestic animals because it only leas to losses and risky visits from bandits.
“Yes, in many towns and villages, you can no longer do it (cattle rearing); they call you and tell you to come and deliver your cows and livestock, they tell you when and where to bring those things and you must comply because if you fail to do so, your life is gone.
“Even in the markets, some people whose cattle had been rustled dare not claim them; if you identify your two stolen cows, those bandits instruct their people to release them to you but once they release your two cows to you, you will be forced to come back with twice that number, it is so serious!
“The situation portends food insecurity and government should redouble efforts towards tackling the situation with regards to security.
“Those bandits come out with big boxes of ammunition while you only see our security personnel with a handful of ammunition; so, how can you, as a human being, face such kind of well-armed people?
“Government should now increase whatever supplies, give our security personnel whatever volume of ammunition they need and give them a free hand to go ahead because many times, the soldiers will say that they had not yet received an order (to go ahead), except in situations where they (soldiers) come face to face with the bandits.
“So, if you call them to say ‘This is what is happening,’ they will say that they are waiting for an order, before they receive the order or go there, things have already happened.
“These are the unusual problems we are facing in the area.
“Also, you only see the military at the local government headquarters and they could be too thinly spread or distant to the rural villages where these killings and abductions happen.
“In some towns and villages where these killings happen, the bandits come and attack anytime they want and by the time the military arrive after being called, those bandits would have killed, taken what they want , take away people’s cows and they burn food reserves that they cannot take away.
“That is the situation, we are in very serious problems in these areas; our people who were big farmers now lack food.
“The new state government is trying, making serious effort to reach out to people and alleviate their plight but the previous one did not handle things properly till we got into the present situation we are all in,” Alhaji Bello Hassan Shinkafi stated.