Communities in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State, Northwest Nigeria are still coming under recurring attacks by terror groups known locally as bandits despite an existing peace accord between them and the latter.
At Dansadau community, this peace deal came as a form of mutual agreement between community leaders and leaders of terror groups that all parties will go about their lives without fear or disturbance, while in Malele, a community north of Maru, a payment of N10million was made.
However, a resident of Dansadau who pleaded anonymity to protect his safety told HumAngle that despite this agreement with the armed groups, they still invade their homes and steal their belongings.
“At times, they can operate on highways from 8:30 p. m to 5 a. m. with no hindrance, stopping cars and stealing from people,” the resident said.
In Nov. 2021, communities under Maru Local Government Area had what was termed a three-way truce between farmers, pastoralists, and terror groups. The peace deal was to avert attacks by terror groups and also avoid conflicts between pastoralists and farmers.
“Before the meeting, if one of us travels even one kilometer away they will kill or kidnap the person. Likewise, we did not allow any of their members (terrorists) to enter our community or access our markets even if they wanted something small.” the Dansadau resident explained.
But the ‘tit for tat’ approach made life more unbearable for the villagers who became targets of attacks by the terrorists even when they (the terrorists) were not attacked.
At Malele, contributions of N5,000 from each household were made and paid to a terror group in a bid to be spared from attacks. “We put the money together and gave it to their leaders,” Magaji a resident revealed.
HumAngle reports that many communities in Shinkafi and other local government areas in the state have been made to pay taxes to different terror groups to be able to live.
Despite this, Magaji lamented that there have been invasions by terrorists in most parts of Maru Local Government Area, noting that the attacks were subtle in some places and intense in others.
How terrorists breached the peace deal
Malele, Ruwan Tofa, Randa and other communities north of Maru have called off the peace truce after terrorists failed to honor the terms of the agreement, carrying out a number of attacks.
These communities, according to Mu’azu, another resident of Dansadau, are some of those that have received more terror attacks than other communities. “Even some hours ago people were calling me to pray for Malele because they are fighting with the terrorists,” Muazu said.
But he revealed that the affected hamlets have adopted vigilante groups known as ‘Yan Sakai’ that have been protecting them even as another call for a renewed peace deal by the terror group was turned down by the communities.
“When they asked for money again, the locals contributed money to arm the Yan Sakai instead and if they see any terrorist they kill him without a second thought,” he said.
Mu’azu added that Dansadau, Doka, Unguwan Kawo, Karauchi and other communities east of Maru that are bordering Kebbi State, and west, bordering Kaduna State, have all surrendered to the will of the terrorists.
He, however, said the armed groups have continued to kidnap people in Dansadau and ask for ransom.
But when the group kidnapped a girl from Malele, “the vigilantes ordered them to bring her back or face the consequences, and they released her without ransom,” Mu’azu revealed.
Although these communities are fortified by vigilantes, HumAngle learnt that locals cannot travel outside the confines of their villages and cannot relocate to relatively safer places because terrorists kill them once they find out where they are from.
Life before terror attacks
Crop farming, livestock herding, and trade were what residents of the Maru Local Government Area were good at. Mamman, a local in Dansadau, describes the soil in his community as blessed by God.
“Even without fertilizer our crops grew and we harvested them and sold them. That was how we fed, clothed and sheltered ourselves, we even gave some to the needy.”
He said the majority of residents in Dansadau, even if they were educated, still farmed. “We went to our lands and cultivated it from morning till night without worry,” Mamman added.
Magaji in Malele said things were different. “We could leave our farms for upto a week and no one would tamper with it, everyone had their field.”
He explained that after the peace deal, normalcy seemed to have returned and everyone had some good harvests for a few months before the attacks resumed.
Currently, no one is farming and their lands have been abandoned. “If you go there now they’ll kidnap you or even kill you,” Magaji said.
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