Residents of Badna, a community near Abuja, in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, are groaning over alleged ill-treatment by the community’s vigilante group.
The community which is dominantly occupied by native Gbagyi people has others from different cultural backgrounds from all over Nigeria and beyond.
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The activities of the vigilantes in the community are said to be causing bad blood between the natives and the “settlers”; as the settlers lament bias and ill-treatment from the group.
Some of the residents who spoke to Aso Chronicle lamented how the vigilantes had been taking the law into their hands under the guise of dispute settlement.
The lamentations bordered on tribalism, favouritism, threat, impunity and aggression.
Some of the settler residents alleged that the police had on several occasions handed over some matters of security concern to the vigilantes to settle; which they noted did not end well with the conflicting parties.
Daily Trust, penultimate week, reported how a woman, Victoria John, a resident of the community, accused the police of inaction over alleged threat of rape on her sister; who is a minor.
Ms. John said one Yohanna Robo, a native of the community, had been making love advances towards her 16-year-old sister and that he threatened to rape her if she continued to reject his “demand”.
Ms. John said she advised the man to stay away from her sister, as she was a minor, but that he instead got angry and hurled insults at her; threatening to beat her up.
She explained that, “He actually carried out his assault threat, as last Friday afternoon, he kicked me at the back and hit me severally before my cousin who was returning from work held him back.”
She said she reported the matter to the vigilante group as there was no police station nearby, but that they asked her to forget about the incident.
Ms. John further said, “The man boasted that nobody can stop him from raping my sister. He even said he is a cultist in front of the vigilantes and that there is nothing we can do about it.”
She said she later reported the matter to the Jikwoyi Police Station, Abuja, being the nearest station to the community, but that the police handed back the matter to the vigilantes to settle.
She lamented that, “We went with the police to the community to arrest the suspect, but they started exchanging pleasantries. The police told me that it was a minor case and that the vigilantes should take over and settle it. They collected N4,000 from my uncle to fuel their vehicle and later told me that my area was not within their jurisdiction.”
She added that after the police left, the man threatened to chase them out of the community if she continued to pursue the case, hence that they were now living in fear of what might befall them.
Another resident, Akakirawa Joseph, who has been in the community for 11 years, said the vigilantes threatened to send him out of the community over a land dispute.
Joseph said, “We had a dispute with a native resident over land, and when I insisted on getting justice, they threatened to send me out of the community.
“Their way of settling dispute is full of favouritism. They favour their people over us. What they do here in the name of vigilante work is more of jungle justice.”
Another resident, Josephine Agayo, also lamented ill-treatment by the group and attributed the issue to the skewed recruitment into the vigilante group.
Ms. Agayo said, “They only recruit their people into the vigilante. All of them are of the same background. We are not represented at all. This is why they settle matters with bias.”
Our reporter who visited the community sought the reaction of the leader of the vigilante group, Daniel Auta, who, however, denied all the allegations.
Auta said the community leaders and the police entrusted responsibilities into their hands and that the group had never received a complaint from either the residents or the police about any wrongdoing of their members.
He said, “We are doing our best to settle matters without favouring anybody here regardless of tribal or cultural affiliations. Sometimes, if we pass a resolution and they don’t feel happy, they complain, but justice is always bitter to people at fault.”
When contacted, the Spokesperson of the Nasarawa State Police Command, Mr. Nansel Ramhan said “the Police will not abdicate from its responsibilities to the people no matter how far or close their communities are.”
He promised that the matter will be investigated.