Terrorists working for notorious kingpin, Bello Turji, are holding five elders of Moriki community in Zurmi area of Zamfara State after the village failed to gather the N20 million protection levy imposed on it.
PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported how the terrorists imposed a N20 Million protection levy on the residents of Moriki. Sources told this newspaper that every household was asked to pay the sum of N6,500 to raise the money.
Moriki has witnessed relentless terrorist attacks for years and resident agreed to pay protection levies imposed by the terrorists to stall further attacks on the community.
Two local sources told PREMIUM TIMES over the phone Wednesday morning that the elders were among seven residents tasked with the responsibility of delivering the already gathered N10.5 million to Mr Turji’s commanders, Tuesday afternoon.
Garba Yusuf, a resident of Moriki but living in Gusau, the state capital, said ”When the residents went to see the bandits in their camp, they told them that the community could only raise N10.5 million, which means they were short of N9.5 million. After a long discussion, the bandits said they would not allow all the seven people go back home because they wanted to be sure that the balance is paid. The bandits even said they were being nice to our community by giving us a two days extension.”
Mr Yusuf, who said one of the elders being held was his late father’s childhood friend, said the terrorists have given them two options to either make up the balance or the five elders will be killed.
”Of course, we know that the will still attack the whole community after killing the hostages. In fact, he is still holding some people from our community, so it is still the same thing.”
Another resident of the community, Jamilu Shehu, said the community might not get the balance in the two days given because all avenues to raise the money have been exhausted.
”I can not imagine the level of this wickedness. This is alarming because a greater percentage of people of the community are farmers and if we don’t go back to either work and be paid or get the farm produce to sell, how then do you expect us to get this amount?,” Mr Shehu said.
A civil servant, Mr Shehu said the community reached out to every of its member that is not residing there, but still falls short of reaching the target ”because of the economic situation of the people.”
He said when the elders went to give the money to the terrorists, they threatened to increase it to N50 million but for the intervention of some senior terrorists in the camp.
”One of those being held is my neighbour, Musa Mai Akuya. Some of these people are even falling over themselves to feed their families which will now make life more difficult for their children.”
The police spokesperson in the state, Mohammed Shehu, could not be reached for comments about the incident. He also did not reply an SMS sent to his telephone number.
Security situation in the North West and a part of the North Central has led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people and displacement of millions of others in over a decade.
The activities of terrorists have forced hundreds of people to flee villages in search of safety in towns, and even to Niger Republic.
States in the North-west especially Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto and Kebbi and Niger in the North-central have been greatly affected by the terorrists’ activities.
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