A COMMUNITY leader in the Birnin Gwari Emirate of Kaduna State Zubairu Abdulra’uf has revealed that farmers in the area paid about N400 million to bandits in order to be allowed to carry on with their farming activities.
Abdulra’uf disclosed this in an interview with journalists in Kaduna on Thursday.
The community leader, who is a former broadcaster with DW Radio, said about N200 million was paid to bandits by communities in Randegi District.
He said, “N200 million was paid to bandits in Randegi District alone. When you talk of Birnin Gwari local government as a whole, it’s between N300 million to N400 million paid to these bandits.”
According to him, the communities contribute money to pay the bandits during the pre-farming season, mid-season and when the crops begin to yield.
“There are three stages of paying these types of taxes to these bandits. You have to pay pre-season and mid-season when the crops are about to start yielding.
“You will pay these bandits because they will not allow you to have access to your farm. Then, at the end of the season when you are harvesting, you will give these bandits money before you access your farm.
“And when you access your farm after paying these taxes, they will now tell you that apart from giving them money, you will give a ratio of two bags to 10 bags of all the assorted grains.For the past three years, this is what the Birnin-Gwari people have been enduring and we are now in a state of hopelessness and frustration.”
He described the payment of as one of the measures taken by residents of the communities to defend themselves from bandits.
The community leader also disclosed that the residents are ready to take up arms to defend themselves.
“Randegi is one of the areas where these bandits have their routes through Zamfara State to Niger State. Yesterday, the people of Randegi confronted these bandits who tried to overrun Randegi, a farming community, and they succeeded in dislodging these bandits. So, I think our people are now ready if the government cannot perform its constitutional function.”
He added: “When people are frustrated, they will now look for the best option for themselves which is to arm themselves if the government cannot protect them.”
Abdulra’uf warned that the situation could lead to food scarcity if it is not addressed.
“If something is not done, we are going to have a food crisis. Birnin Gwari used to produce at least 700 metric tonnes of assorted grains but now people cannot access their farms. There are many cases, since the beginning of this rainy season, that people are being abducted on their way to the farm and even the cattle they use for farming are being collected from them,” he said.