SIX farmers, including the vice chairman of the Jama’atul Izalatul Bid’ah Wa Iqamatus-Sunnah Yakubu Muhammad Bugai, have been killed by bandits during attacks in the Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State.
The terrorists also abducted over 40 villagers while several farmlands were destroyed and seized during the attacks.
Although the police and the Kaduna State Government have yet to officially comment on the incident, the Chairman of Birnin-Gwari Emirate Progressives Union (BEPU), Ishaq Usman Kasai, disclosed in a statement on Saturday, July 29, that the attacks occurred between Wednesday, July 26 and Thursday, July 27.
According to the statement, the Islamic cleric was shot dead on Wednesday, July 26, at his farm located around the Rema area and his corpse was later taken to Jibril Mai-Gwari General Hospital.
He said the cleric sustained gunshot wounds on his abdomen and arm.
The chairman giving the account of other attacks in Birnin Gwari disclosed that the bandits abducted scores of locals around the Kuyambana forest, which served as a hideout for the hoodlums.
Kasai said: “In another sad development, around Sabon-Layi, Kurgi, Yelwa, Tashan-Keji, Shiwaka, Unguwan Danfulani and many more rural communities in the western part of Birnin-Gwari sharing boundaries with Kamuku and Kuyambana forests, which are serving as hideouts of the bandits, large number of locals were kidnapped at their farms.
“In fact, the situation is so rampant and complex for one to choose among the incidents to report. The bandits also took over peoples’ farms in those areas. In the Sabon-layi community alone, more than 10 farms, especially those with grown up maize, have been cleared deliberately by the bandits’ cattle.
“In fact, the bandits told the farmers to stop wasting their time going to farm in the area because even if they failed to obey, they would not allow them to harvest and they may end up being killed or abducted.”
He added: “On Friday 21-7-2023, the bandits invaded Ung Bawa in Randagi Ward and kidnapped 28 persons, including women and children and also killed one and shot four who are currently receiving medical attention at various health facilities. However, 13 out of the captives have managed to escape from the den.
“On Tuesday 25/7/2023, the bandits attacked Rafin Zango, around Eka Farm, and kidnapped two persons who were on their way back from Birnin-Gwari town heading to Gagumi community.
“Also, on Wednesday, 26/7/2023, they invaded Unguwan Roka of Kakangi Ward, killed 1 person and kidnapped 9. On Thursday night (27/7/2023), the bandits came back to a nearby Community, Unguwan Danfulani, killed 1 person and kidnapped seven from one family.
“Earlier on the same Thursday, 27/7/2023, the bandits blocked traders and grain suppliers who were on their way from the western part to the Birnin-Gwari weekly market. The bandits operated for about an hour and kidnapped six persons”
70% of farmlands are yet to be accessible
Speaking further on the negative impact of insecurity in his area, Kasai, the local government is at risk of food insecurity as their targeted farming outputs may not be met.
According to him, about 70 per cent of farmlands have been hijacked by the bandits and aren’t yet accessible to farmers.
“The BEPU are deeply concerned that farmers continue to be attacked whenever they go to their farms. This poses a danger to this year’s targeted farming outputs, as about 70 per cent of farmlands are yet to be accessible.
“The kidnapping and killings of locals at farms have become rampant in the entire Birnin-Gwari general area. Even today (Saturday), the bandits abducted two farmers at the Maraban Agyaro area of the Gagumi axis.
“BEPU is deeply concerned that the killings and abductions of farmers in the Birnin-Gwari general area have continued to escalate daily, unchallenged and unreported,” he said.
Appeal to the government, security agencies
While appreciating the determination of the president, Bola Tinubu administration and the effort of the security agencies toward addressing insecurity in the area, the Union appealed to the Federal Government to deploy military formations in some of the insecurity-prone communities.
He also appealed to the government to restore mobile police units in Damari, one of the affected communities.
“The Union, however, appeal to the Federal Government to facilitate the establishment of military detachments in Katakaki, Gagumi, Tashar-Keji, and Bugai axis of the western part of Birnin-Gwari, which the bandits warlords are now using as their operational base and continuously terrorising the Birnin-Gwari general area.
“Equally important, there is a need for restoration of the Mobile Police Unit in Damari community of the eastern part of the local government, which bandits are using as a route in attacking many communities in the area.”
Kasai also bemoaned the poor healthcare delivery in the region.
“The victims of armed banditry continue to die due to poor medical attention as a result of inadequate staffing and equipment in the Jibril Mai-Gwari General Hospital. (There is) only one medical doctor in the entire hospital.
“This is by far not proportionate to the population. On this note, BEPU appeals to the Kaduna State Government to post more health personnel or recruit indigenous medical doctors who would manage the hospital as victims of armed banditry continue to die due to insufficient primary medical attention,” he said.