Bandits operating in Gando forest in Bukkuyum local government area of Zamfara state have written to nine communities asking them to pay their levies or face deadly attacks.
This is coming a few weeks after bandits massacred at least 58 people in Bukkuyum and Anka local government areas.
In that carnage, he bandits burnt down five villages, killed many residents and mutilated their bodies.
Residents told Premium Times that the bandits, who attacked the villages on motorcycles, were more than 500.
The letters seen by Premium Times were written in Hausa language and addressed to the different communities. Each of the letters has the name of the community on the top and the money it is expected to pay. There are also a mobile phone number written on the letters.
This newspaper called the number several times but it did not go through.
“Yargalma. N5, 000, 000. From Dogon Sabi na Auwali Wanzam. You people should reach out to us for peace. Come and pay us money or vacate your town. Respect this and live in peace,” one of the letters read.
All the letters bore the same contents except the title of the town and the amount the bandits are seeking.
The communities according to their districts and the amount they are expected to pay: Zugu district has five communities taxed as follows: Wawan Iccen Ibrahim N4, 000,000, Wawan Iccen Salihu N1,000,000, Gaude N1,000,000, Galle N1,000,000 and Tungar Gebe N500,000.
In Gado district, the two communities levied are Nannarki and Ruwan Kura N5, 000,000 each.
Adabka district head has one community, Gangara which is levied N1.5 million. Zarummai district also has one community which is Yar Galma N5, 000,000.
Premium Times spoke to a source at the palace of Bunun Zugu, district head of Zugu in Bukkuyum local government area who confirmed that although the nine villages are spread across four districts, all the letters were sent to Bunun Zugu.
Bunun Zugu is considered to be one of the highly influential princes in the Bukkuyum emirate council.
The palace source, who craved anonymity, said the monarch had reached out to the Emir of Bukkuyum on the issue.
“His Royal Highness has been discussing the issue with the District Head and other heads of the remaining districts,” he said.
On how they authenticated the letters, the source said they were brought to the district head by released captives.
“Some of our people were kidnapped by bandits in November last year and after payment of ransom, they released them and sent them with the letters for delivery to the district head,” he noted.
A youth leader, Abubakar Gero, who is the
coordinator of Zamfara Circle in the area, said the letters were given to some kidnapped residents of Kyaram village under Zugu.
“After payment of ransom by relatives of the captives, they asked them to go with the nine different letters and present them to Bunun Zugu who was also instructed to forward it to the remaining heads.”
He said that residents of the affected communities have started gathering the money to avoid attacks.
The phone number of Zamfara police command spokesperson, Mohammed Shehu, could not-be reached on Monday. An SMS sent to him was not.