Armed ViolenceNews

Terrorists Abduct 70 Farmers In Nigeria’s Sokoto Amid Rising Food Insecurity

The peasant farmers are currently in the terrorists’ den and are being tortured for inability to raise the ₦20 million protection levy imposed on them.

A few days after kidnapping people across 17 villages in Sokoto East Senatorial District, terrorists abducted another 70 farmers on Thursday, June 14.

The terrorists carried out the attack between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Lajinge and Dan-Tudu communities of Isa Local Government Area in northwestern Nigeria.

Locals from the affected communities told HumAngle that the mass abduction of farmers occurred because they could not raise the ₦20 million protection levy the terrorists imposed on them. 

The terrorists are taking advantage of the security loopholes in many communities in the area to impose illegal fees on the vulnerable people who are mostly peasant farmers.

Bala Dan-Gobir, a local vulcaniser in one of the affected villages, who narrowly escaped from the terrorists’ camp, spoke to HumAngle about the condition of farmers recently abducted in the area.

“The armed terrorists are deliberately starving all the captives,” he said. “No food to eat and we were only served with water fetched from the stream twice daily. The 70 farmers kidnapped on Thursday are suffering the same thing.”

Dan-Gobir was worried over the number of armed gangs hiding in the Isa and Sabon-Birni forests and terrorising the people. 

“We cannot afford to pay protection fees to all the terrorist groups,” he said, adding that when a community is forced to make such a payment to a certain group of terrorists, other groups will storm the village to make fresh demands.”

With no help in sight, residents in the affected communities said they have written and reported to the state authorities on different occasions.

“We have now lost hope because the armed groups are attacking and killing us in broad daylight, taking over our spaces without halt from the security operatives. We only see a few security operatives many hours after the attacks would have been launched,” said Dan-Gobir. “Where were the Nigerian soldiers or police when about 70 farmers were held hostage in the terrorists’ camps in Gandu forest?”

Asked what he thinks about the security situation in the area, Sulaiman Saadu, a 37-year-old resident, said: “The problem is that there is no military or police presence where the villagers suffer attacks and expansion of terrorist activities.”

“We have no option but to submit to the payment of ransom. The Nigerian government and authorities in Sokoto have given up the fight and left us to the caprices of the armed terrorists,” he added.

Residents of Takatsaba, Teke, Sabongari, Rambadawa, and Tudunwada communities also told HumAngle that it is high time the government listened to their prolonged cries over insecurity. 

“Our local and political authorities have abandoned us, and only care about our votes during the election. Moments of just raising hands in prayers have gone because it’s no longer enough to end our woes,” said Bashar Guwaya, a local farmer in the area.

“We have to write and voice out and, of course, meet authorities with open confrontation to hold them accountable so that they can ensure our peace and protect our lives and properties.”

Armed violence in northwestern Nigeria has devastating consequences on the region’s economic backbone, large-scale farming and animal husbandry, triggering a severe food crisis. Multiple terrorist attacks on farmers and farmlands have crippled food cultivation and harvest, causing acute regional food shortages. 

The destruction of hundreds of farmlands by terrorists and the rustling of thousands of cattle and sheep have aggravated the food insecurity problem, resulting in high food prices. Earlier this year, the World Bank predicted in a report that the six states in the northwestern region, including Sokoto, would suffer severe food crises due to high levels of armed conflicts.

Abdu Usman, the Special Assistant to the governor of Sokoto State on Security and Home Affairs, confirmed the latest abduction of 70 farmers in the area. He, however, said the state security committee has mapped out all strategies applicable to address insecurity in Sokoto. 

Meanwhile, Ahmad Rufai, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, said they are still investigating claims of mass abduction of farmers in the affected villages.

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