Farmers in Zamfara State are reporting cases of wilful burning of farm harvests by bandits.
Multiple farmers or their relatives have come to social media to voice their frustrations on the issue, explaining that they were becoming more helpless by the day.
Checks made by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that the worst hit communities are in Gusau, Maru, Anka and Kaura Namoda local government areas.
Bandits have for over a decade unleashed terror on residents of the North-west region of Nigeria. Banditry is the code word for organised crimes like kidnapping, cattle rustling, killing, rape, abduction and even armed robbery.
What started as a communal rivalry between farmers and herders due to unavailability of land mass, snowballed into a deadly act of terrorism with bandits shooting down an air force jet and kidnapping more than 100 in 2021 alone.
According to an American Security Project Report (2021), 200,000 people have fled their communities this year with 77,000 of them leaving the country in search of safer places.
Attacks have continued despite efforts by security agents and vigilante members.
Bandits have been killing, kidnapping, looting, burning down shops, houses and vehicles, raping women and forcing people to fled their ancestral towns.
We’re in a tied position
Bala Mustapha, a native of Bingi in Maru local government area but residing in the state capital, told this newspaper via phone that his uncle’s and his neighbours’ farm produce were all set ablaze by bandits.
“We were happy when we were harvesting the farm produce. It was a large farmland and we sow soya beans. Same day that my uncle and his neighbour in the farm were overseeing the harvesting, bandits stormed the place and chased everybody away after which they burnt down the whole Soya beans,” Mr Mustapha, who is a health worker, said.
He said it was a deliberate case of envy because they did not take away any of the Soya beans.
A farmer in Kanoma, who refused to reveal his identity, said he would not farm next year.
“The issue is that bandits have forced many of us to stop going to the farm so when we defied their order and managed to work on our farmlands, they end up coming to burn down the farm produce when they are ready for harvest,” the farmer said.
In Magami under Gusau local government area, Almustapha Abdullahi said the bandits burnt down his maize and abducted his workers.
Mr Abdullahi said: ”It was terrible. A lot of hard work and money have been wasted. We thought they (bandits) might sympathise with us and rob us of some of the farm produce because it would have been better, but they don’t want the produce and would not let us benefit from our hard work,” he said.
We’re not aware – Zamfara police
The Zamfara police spokesperson, Mohammed Shehu, said the police were not aware of the issue.
“We have intensified surveillance especially with the availability of Police Tactical Operatives. So, we are not aware of this issue because nobody has lodged any formal complaint to the police and our men have not got any case on that,” he said.
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