Bandits operating in the eastern part of Sokoto State have imposed levies on the locals to pay before next Friday or risk attack, Daily Trust can report.
A resident of the area revealed that locals are also barred from their farms by the bandits pending payment of the prescribed levies.
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Daily Trust reliably gathered that some of the communities had settled the bandits while others were working hard to raise the money.
It was gathered that the bandits considered the population of each community in determining the amounts they would pay.
“Some are asked to pay N400,000, some N700,000 while some even pay less than that and is left for the community to decide how the money will be raised.
“In some communities, heads of households are asked to pay N2,000 each and young men that are not married pay N1,000 each,” another source said.
Findings revealed that Attalawa, Danmaliki, Adamawa, Dukkuma, Sardauna and Dangari villages were asked to pay N400,000 each.
However, residents of Kwatsal village billed N4million were said to have already paid N2million out of the money to the bandits.
“All the villages were given up to Friday to pay the money or risk attack. People are paying because they have no other option,” one of the sources added.
A member representing Sabon Birni North Constituency, Aminu Almustapha Gobir, who confirmed the development, said there had been no attack in Sabon Birni in recent times because the locals were complying with the directive of the bandits.
“The people prefer to pay and live in peace in their communities than to rely on security agencies or go on exile,” he said.
A former Chairman of Sabon Birni Local Government Area, Idris Muhammad, however, faulted the payment of levies to bandits, saying doing so would not guarantee people’s safety.
“We have different groups of bandits in the area, if you pay a levy to this group how sure are you the other group will not attack you?”
“The same scenario unfolded in Gatawa and Tarah, which were attacked and several of their people abducted by different groups of bandits. Their relatives had to pay ransom to those different groups before their release.
“This is what will continue to happen, if one group places a levy on you and you pay, another group will come to either attack you or demand for levy again and you must pay them or face the consequences,” he said.
Several calls placed to the spokesman for the police in Sokoto, ASP Sanusi Abubakar, and the Commissioner for Security and Carriers Matters, Colonel Garba Moyi (retd), were not answered.
They also did not respond to text messages sent to them.
Notorious bandit, Damina, dozens dead
A notorious bandit and cattle rustling kingpin based in Kuyambana Forest in Dansadau Emirate of Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State, identified as Damina, has been killed by another bandits’ leader, Dogo Gide, in gang violence, Daily Trust gathered.
Damina and Gide’s gangs spent days battling each other after four of Gide’s men were waylaid and killed by Damina two weeks ago.
Angered by the attack, which he viewed as unprovoked, Gide arranged his men and went for a reprisal campaign against Damina.
The trip, Daily Trust gathered, led to the delay in releasing hostages abducted from Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri, held by Gide.
During the first reprisal encounter, at least 14 men from Damina’s gang were killed while additional four fighters loyal to Gide also lost their lives.
Damina reportedly died from severe injuries he sustained during the clash at a spot near Chilin and Fammaje, two farming communities that had been under his control.
The slain bandit was responsible for the series of deadly raids, kidnappings, cattle rustling and imposition of levies in several communities in Dansadau.
Damina had in July attacked Tungar Baushe and Randa villages, where several people were killed and over 100 residents, mostly women and children, abducted.
Gide had in 2017 killed another cattle rustling kingpin, Buharin Daji, in a gang war near Madada, a community located 15km west of Dansadau town.
“Damina drew the ire of Dogo Gide after he imposed what he called “harvest levies” on Chillin, Fammaje and one other village.
“He demanded that the residents must mobilise and raise N6million for them to get his nod to harvest their farm produce.
“Apart from this, Damina had, a few weeks back, invaded Babbar Doka, killed two people including a woman who he burnt alive when he set her room ablaze.
“The residents of the village had to flee and take refuge in Dansadau. The community is under Dogo Gide’s control and the residents there are always feeling protected under him.
“When the levy collectors were going to deliver the money to Damina at an agreed spot, they were intercepted by Gide’s boys. The Gide’s boys asked them to lead them to where they believed Damina and his boys were hibernating.
“When they led them to Damina’s abode a heavy gunfight broke out immediately with Damina fleeing to a nearby community called Farin Ruwa where he was said to be receiving medical attention following the injuries he sustained from the gunfight.
“Two days later, Gide’s boys got information on where Damina was recuperating and followed him there. They killed him and dismembered his remains. The killing of Damina by Gide sparked jubilation across the highly traumatised communities,” the source said.
Security and state government officials could not be reached for comment at the time of filing this report.
The Commissioner for Security and Home Affairs, DIG Ibrahim MammanTsafe (retd), did not answer multiple calls by our reporter.
The spokesman for the police in the state, SP Muhammad Shehu, was also not going.
Gide’s war against other bandits
Meanwhile, Daily Trust gathered that Gide has vowed to tackle all warlords operating in the forests around Niger and Zamfara State, threatening to bring an end to their “reign of terror”.
A source who said he had recently spoken to the bandits’ leader said Gide was eager to conclude talks and release remaining hostages in his possession to concentrate on his new mission.
Credible sources told our correspondent that Gide, who is believed to have ties with Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), was not happy with the way Damina and other kingpins were attacking communities, kidnapping and displacing residents.
The bandits’ warlord had in previous communication denied being a thief or bandit, despite maintaining a large gang of armed men.
The senator who represented Zamfara Central between 1999 and 2007, Saidu Muhammad Dansadau, who confirmed Damina’s murder by Gide said Gide was also hunting for Ali Kachalla, who was infamous for downing a Nigerian Air Force jet in July.
“Dogo Gide is also hunting for another kidnapping kingpin called Ali Kachalla and the rivalry between the armed groups is a good omen for residents,” Dansadau said.