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Zamfara Villages Pay Terrorists Millions To Stay Alive, Yet Suffer Attacks

Together, some communities in various local governments of Zamfara State, Northwest Nigeria, cough out over N50 million to appease terrorists.

“We use our money and energy to buy peace from terror groups … our properties surrendered to them to avoid attack on our respective communities because government at all levels fail to stamp out insecurity,” Surajo B. Lawal Magami, a resident of Randa village in Maru Local Government Area (LGA) of Zamfara State, told HumAngle.  

Garba Tsire, another resident, added: “We received different threats of attacks on our communities and reported to government authorities, traditional rulers and security agencies of the impending attacks, yet all in vain.”

These are the lamentations of mainly rural citizens of Zamfara State, Northwest Nigeria. 

The extortion

In Tsafe LGA, almost every village pays tax before harvesting their farm products, Muhammad Samaila said. “For instance, Magazawa pay three million naira, Kauyen Kane six million naira, Rakyabu N1.1 million before it was raised to N15 million after a misunderstanding between the community and the terrorists.”

Other communities paying tax include Sungawa, N1.1 million and Yelwa, N800,000.

“You have to liaise with the terrorist leaders to pay tax and ransom before harvesting your farm produce, and they search any valuable items from the farmers,” Sagir Musa explained.

But this does not make some communies immune from attacks.

Terrorists still invade Sungawa, Gidan Anne, Yelwa, Rugarmanu, and Gidan Isuhu for their failure to pay up at the scheduled time.

In addition to this catastrophe, Rakyabu as a community were ordered to pay six million naira and later three million was agreed upon after what seemed like a successful negotiation.

But while the community was preparing to make the payment, two other gangs sent letters demanding N15 million and N10 million.

Terrorists received tax of three million naira from Kunchin Kalgo village in Tsafe LGA on Nov. 10, 2021, without any confrontation by security personnel, HumAngle gathered. Kwarin Mai-Saje village was asked to pay N3.5 million and they gave N600,000 as part payment on Nov. 13, 2021. This led to a fresh attack by the gang, a warning that they were not happy.

Peculiar case

Tax imposition and ransom payment appears to be different in Zurmi LGA of Zamfara State. 

Malam Ya’u Abubakar, 33, a resident of Zurmi town, said “villages of Yanbuki, Magarya, Chansama and three other communities met a terror group’s demand to the tune of over five million naira to avoid attacks.” And this has paid off.

“Since the payment was made to the group’s leader, there has been no attack on their villages right from December, 2021 to the month of March, 2022.”

Aminu Ahmad’s cousin was killed by a terror group leaving behind 13 orphans, four of which are of marriageable age, he narrated.

To make matters worse, the terror group burnt down their farm, with over 105 bags of beans turned into ashes. “Despite that the imposed tax was paid,” he added. 

Dr Al’Amin Tsafe, a lecturer at Federal University Gusau, lamented that “the recent dimension of terrorism in the state reaches to a length and extent in which almost every village along Magami to Dansadau axis survives by paying levy. And so we heard from other local government areas in the state. Households are levied before they can go to their farms.

“No serious commitment from the government [both state and federal], and the powers of bandits increases, thereby reducing that of the government while the masses are only at the mercy of God.”

Terror reigns

In the later hours of Sunday, March 21, 2022, armed gangs launched an attack on Ganar-Kiyawa village, Adabka ward in Bukuyum LGA of Zamfara State. 

An eye witness, Musa Alhasan Kizara, told HumAngle that no fewer than 20 farmers were killed.

Mamman Dokaji, another resident of Ganar-Kiyawa pointed out that “we know the gang and each of their members. They forced us to pay N2.5 million cash as a price to avoid the attack. It was a hard knock to crack to think of getting this huge amount from our village because these terrorists have pauperized us and dried all our milk long ago.”

Similarly, Abdul Balarabe, a resident of Gusau, lamented how another group killed 10 persons in Bingi village following the failure of its residents to complete payment of tax imposed on them.

Balarabe said “the attackers kidnapped 40 additional persons, after setting many houses ablaze and leaving more than 700 persons displaced, includinh women and children.”

When contacted via telephone, Shehu Muhammad, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Zamfara State Police Command, declined comment, saying his command will contact it’s sources to verify the accounts. 

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