Bandits in selected communities of Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State have set a new tax scheme for farmers, threatening that communities must pay before they are allowed to access their farmlands.
Arewa Trust Weekly reports that Birnin Gwari is one of five LGAs in Kaduna where banditry continues to pose a challenge to government and security agencies. The other LGAs are Giwa, Chikun, Igabi and Kajuru.
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Speaking with our correspondent, a resident of Dogon Dawa, Hamza Isa, confirmed that bandits had sent emissaries to inform selected communities, including Dogo Dawa, of the new tax scheme.
“At the first instance, they have asked us to pay N10m before we access our farmlands. The communities affected include Dogon Dawa, Saulawa, Rafin Tukurwa, Damari and surrounding communities. We have been denied any opportunity to clear our lands to prepare for the farming season,” Isa said.
On his part, Ibrahim Hamisu of Damari told our correspondent that most residents of Damari were still taking refuge in Dogon Dawa due to attacks.
“Many of our people are yet to return home and they cannot access their farms. Now the bandits are asking us to pay them N10m before we can access our farms, where are we expected to get the money from?” he asked rhetorically.
Last month, farmers in mostly Birnin Gwari, Chikun, Giwa and Kajuru raised the alarm that they might not be able to farm in 2021 due to killings and constant threats by bandits. The farmers had narrated how bandits killed mostly male farmers and stole their motorcycles either on their farms or while on their way to their farms.
“This year, the situation is worse. They have prevented us from even clearing our farms in anticipation of the farming season. Many people have decided not to farm this year, and we fear that there will be food scarcity,” said Shehu Isiya of Fatika District in Giwa LGA.