How we were maltreated, killed, displaced

Over years now, villages of Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State bordering the troubled Birnin Gwari have been through anonymous of hell in the hands of terrorist . Many were abducted , others murdered and 18 villages sacked after a self-liberation move failed.  ABDULGAFAR ALABELEWE reports.

Problem began when members of the vigilante group from the villages invalded terrorists ’ hideout. The troubled villagers, who were fed up with the gunmen’s terror attacks, moved in to root out the bandits, but the move was a costly gamble as it failed. They were overpowered by the suspected criminals and three of the local security operatives were reported killed in the gun duel.

The Nation gathered that the vigilantes who stirred the hornet’s nest, were scared that, informing the authorities before raiding the bandits’ hideout might not yield positive results. “Their fear was that, an informant might alert the bandits before Police or soldiers arrive. Even if no informant does, the Police themselves, in their usual way of operation, might be blowing siren before getting to the scene, which will alert the criminals to run away,” a villager said.

The Kaduna State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, DSP Yakubu Sabo, who confirmed the incident, had said trouble started when a group of vigilantes from the villages discovered a bandits/kidnappers’ hideout and went to burst it. They went solo, but were unfortunately overpowered by the bandits.

He said three of the vigilantes went missing in the process, a situation he said sent fears into the villagers, who eventually fled their homes for fear of the unknown. “But, immediately we learnt of the situation, the command deployed men in the area to go after the suspected bandits.”

Police deployment not withstanding, villagers from 18 villages of Jura, Anguwar Gide, Anguwar Dan Gauta, Anguwar Nayawo, Anguwar Makeri, Jigani, Sabon Gida, Dallatu, Anguwar Ahmadu, Sabon Gari, Kosau, Gidan Sarkin Noma, Anguwar Pati, Anguwar Amfani, Anguwar Tofa, Kyauro, Burkawa and Soran Giwa, estimated to be over 1,200, fled their homes to take refuge at LEA Primary School Birnin Yero, along Kaduna-Zaria Expressway.

Some of the displaced villagers, who spoke to The Nation at the temporary camp, narrated their sad experiences with the dreaded bandits. They lamented that the criminals have no sympathy for fellow human beings; not even the aged, women and children

The predominant farming villagers said they had no option but to flee their homes and abandon their property and farms to save their lives because the bandits, according to them, don’t issue empty threats.

A displaced victim, who identified himself simply as Idris, said: “We didn’t just leave our villages; we received threat messages from bandits on a daily basis that they were coming to attack us; and because we know how the bandits have been terrorising our communities, we had to leave.

“Going to farm was sometimes difficult us; even when whenever we dared them by going to farm, they would kidnap our women and children and we often paid ransom to free them. So, many people had been kidnapped and ransom paid. This was the reason the vigilantes made the move to engage the bandits and liberate the communities.

“The vigilantes went into the forest to arrest the bandits, but in the process, three of them were instead killed and even some are still missing. That was why when we got their messages that we should leave the villages or be attacked, we had no option.

“The bandits had not attacked any village; they only asked us to vacate the communities or be attacked. But, we know them; they don’t make empty threats and if we say they will not come and they do, who is going to defend us? Some of the vigilantes we relied on were killed by them,” he regretted.

In another twist, another victim and a traditional title holder, Abdullahi Jibril, said the gunmen actually came to Ungwar Gide in   broad day light on October 20 ordering them to vacate the village.

According to Jibrin, a septuagenarian farmer, “On Sunday, the day we came to this camp, the bandits came into our village on bikes, brandishing their guns and ordered us to leave our ancestral homes.

“Now, we are here living like refugees in our own state begging for food. Meanwhile, just like many others you are seeing here, we have our farms;  we are not liabilities, but these people have prevented us from going to our farms.

“I invested about N2million on my farm but now I can’t go there. Even before our coming here, I couldn’t visit the farm anymore because of the bandits; they kidnap people on their ways to farm. In fact, I have spent about 30 days now without visiting my farm and you know what that means for a farmer, who is supposed to be harvesting by now.

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