A community leader in Birnin Gwari Emirate of Kaduna state, Alhaji Zubairu Abdulra’uf, has expressed worry over the activities of bandits in the Emirate, noting that farmers have to pay N300million to N400million to have access to their farms.
The former Managing Director of Kaduna State Media Corporation (KSMC) in an interview welcomed recent directive by Zamfara state Governor that people should resort to self defence, adding that the people of Birnin Gwari Emirate have already adopted that option.
He said the incessant attacks on his people had completely paralysed economic activities including farming in the rural communities and made travelling in the area so difficult or even impossible in some places.
The former broadcaster with DW Radio said the bandits have for over two years imposed tax on the Birnin Gwari farmers.
“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.
“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 2 bags for 10 bags of all the assorted grains. For the past three years, this is what Birnin Gwari people have been enduring and we are now in a state of hopelessness and frustration. We have reached the point of no return. People are being pushed to the wall.
“Just yesterday, 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.
“When people are frustrated, they will now look for the best option for themselves which is to arm themselves, if the government can not protect them. We are living in a situation where people can no longer work or even travel one kilometre from Birnin Gwari town to other areas and it’s the same thing that we have in all the districts in Birnin Gwari.
“If something is not done, we are going to have food crisis. Birnin Gwari 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.