Bandits and insurgents have reportedly continued to attack communities in Niger State, denying farmers access to their farms to harvest their crops.
Affected communities told Daily Trust Saturday that crops like maize and beans that are due for harvesting are being wasted on their farms due to incessant kidnappings of owners on their farms.
The chairman of Munya Local Government Area, Najume Abdulamid Aminu Kuchi, recently told Daily Trust during an interview after an Annual Stakeholders Flood Sensitisation and Awareness Organised by North-South Power Company Limited in Minna, that bandits had returned to attack communities in his local government.
He said on August 1, 2023, two farmers were killed while an unspecified number of others were kidnapped in Zazzaga Community, saying that “for some time now, we’ve been having some peace but for the past few months, the attacks have come up again. It’s now a day-by-day occurence. As of August 1, bandits attacked Zazzaga Community; they killed two people and kidnapped some.”
However, on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, Najume said on Tsalle Daya – a Hausa Programme on Minna-based Prestige FM Radio, that the current security situation in his local government was worrisome.
“Honestly Speaking, insecurity in Munya has continued unabated. As the LG Chairman, on behalf of the people of Munya, I want to confirm to you that attacks happen almost every day now.
“They even tax our people to bring their farm produce for settlement, yet they will still come back to attack them. Right now, crops, especially maize, that are due for harvesting are wasting in the farms because farmers cannot access their farms to harvest them. If they go, they get kidnapped.”
While appealing to the state and federal government to take decisive action against the attackers, Najume said “it’s already October; if the dry season comes now when farmers are supposed to harvest most of their crops, what will they do?”
He said bandits have camps in Kazani Community, a border community in Chikun LGA of Kaduna State from where he said they come to attack communities in Munya LGA and go back.
The Council Chairman also said that residents of many communities including Tsohon-Kabula, Mangoro and Zazzaga have all fled their homes, calling for reinforcement of conventional security operatives to support the local vigilantes in the area.
“I have been having sleepless nights because my people do not have peace in their homes. We are doing our best at the local government level but we need more support from the state and federal governments for the sake of Allah to enable our farmers harvest their crops.”
Farmers in Shiroro and Rafi LGA also told our correspondent that attacks had resumed in their communities, denying them access to their farms to harvest crops.
One of the latest attacks was on Tsohon-Kabula, Munya Local Government on September 28, 2023, during which no fewer than 16 farmers, including women and children were kidnapped and one person shot.
A resident of Shiroro who doesn’t want his name mentioned told Daily Trust Saturday that attacks on communities around Pandogari-Allawa axis in Rafi and Shiroro Local Government had also become incessant.
The latest data obtained from the Niger State Emergency Management Agency showed that 152 farmers have been killed while 355 others were kidnapped by bandits in various attacks on communities in Mariga, Paikoro, Rijau, Wushishi, Rafi, Shiroro, Munya, Magama and Mashegu of Niger State between April and September this year.
The document showed that 140 communities were attacked within the period, causing the displacement of 36,071 farmers.
The Director General, Niger State Emergency Management Agency, Garba Salihu, told our correspondent that Rafi LGA topped with 112 deaths and was third with 24 abductees from 28 communities while 17 people were killed and 21 abducted from 11 communities in Rijau LGA.
Other local governments are Mariga with two deaths and 63 abductions during attacks on 6 communities; Paikoro LGA recorded two deaths and 39 abductions from 11 communities; Wushishi LGA recorded three deaths and two abductions during attacks on 21 communities while six people were killed and 18 others kidnaped during attacks on 27 communities in Shiroro LGA within the period.
Salihu also said that 9 people were killed while 27 others were kidnapped from attacks on 31 communities in Munya LGA and 11 people were kidnapped during attacks on four communities in Magama LGA while one person was killed in an attack in Mashegu LGA, all between April and September this year.
NSEMA DG said the affected communities in Mariga LGA include Kakihum, Kasuwan-Garba, Gulbin-Boka, Kumbashi, Maburya while those affected in Paikoro LGA were Rishi, Sabon-Goto, Gidan-Luka, Kurmin-Baba, Kuko, Ruga, Lagbe, Ruga-Siche, Dakalo, Yanki and Pape.
Similarly, in Rijau LGA, Inana, Idachi, Shambo, Genu, Tungan-Bunu, Darangi, Tungan-Marke, Tungan-Kawo-Rijau, Warari and Dugge were attacked while Babako, Tashan-jirgi, Utere, Ndiga, Kwakwagi, Unguwan-Biri, Akare, Cegi, Alita, Agwa, Girin, Tukunji, Gekun, Cheji, Akare, Yankazhi, Kpakara, Tashan-Jirgi, Dabogi, Agwa and Matajiyan were attacked in Wushishi LGA.
In Rafi LGA, Pandogari, Kusheriki, Maikujeri, Zara, Tungan-Bako, Tungan-Makeri, Madaka, Kawo Ushama, Kwanan-Mariga, Katako, Yakila, Pangu-Gari, Ringa, Sufana, Farin-Kasa, Ogu, Kadaura, Anguwan-Samaila, Masallaci, Hullatai, Anguwan-Jatau, Kambari, Injin-Barde, Ajemi, Gushi, Palale, Jiwawa and Gimi were attacked while in Shiroro LGA, Kwaki, Farin-Dawaki, Ajatayi, Ajayi-Katoro, Bauri-Yala, Gosa, Keto, Sabon-gida, Masuku, Basa, zangoro, Gyaramiya, Bataro-Waziri, Batara-Jatai, Jaramiyya, Magami, Magoga, Beri, Kini-Ashana, Ngawa, Beri-kago, Madaka., Koki, Sundna, Shakadna, Karibo and Manta
In Munya LGA, Kuchi Gari, Shashayi, Kudam, Kapana,Wuloto, Kango, Tsohon Dangunu, Magure, Jigbe, Akuye, Lukuma, Igu, Shape, Kachiwe, Paikpa, Sabon Kabula, Mangoro, Sabo Gida, Zazzaga, Kazai Kadara, Kazai gwari, Kamache, Ikwa, Kuchiwyi, Guduma, Gakalo, Daza, Gini, Bodo, Guni and Gajikpa were attacked while Masamagu, Yangalu, Magaman Daji were attacked in Magama LGA. In Mashegu LGA, only Kainji Lake National Park, Felegi was reportedly attacked in the last six months.
Findings by Daily Trust Saturday showed that these attacks had not only worsened the humanitarian crisis among affected farmers, it has also caused the rise in prices of grains in the state.
Already, grain sellers in the state have attributed the daily rising cost of food items in the state to incessant attacks and kidnappings, saying that the high cost of food items had remained stable in the last three months due to low supply from farmers in the state.
The affected LGAs of Munya, Rafi, Shiroro, Mashegu, Rijau, Mariga, Paikoro, Wushishi, Borgu and Kontagora were known to be among major producers of maize, beans, guinea corn, millet and yam in commercial quantities, supplying the commodities to various markets even across the shores of Nigeria.
Checks at Manigi weekly market, Mashegu LGA, for instance, showed significant rise in the prices of many food items even as farmers harvest new crops. For instance, the price of new soyabeans was N40,000 per 100kg bag while the old one was sold at N42,000.
Similarly, the price of melon was between N32,000 and N33,000 per bag; millet was sold between N27,000 and N29,000; maize was between N25,000 and N26,000; red beans was between N56,000 and N58,000 while white beans went between N55,000 and N56,000 as of last Thursday market.
The Chairman, Grain Sellers Association, Kure Ultra-Modern Market Minna, Alhaji Ahmadu Dandodo, confirmed to Daily Trust Saturday in his office that prices of food items had not reduced even though farmers had started harvesting, attributing the cause to insecurity in the state and high cost of transportation in supplying the commodities to Niger State from other states.
He said a bag of white beans was currently between N60,000 and N62,000 while millet was sold between N48,000 and N50,000 per bag in Minna markets and other local markets in the state, adding that a 50kg bag of local rice was between N40,000 and N43,000 while a 100kg bag of local rice was between N70,000 and N72,000.
“Many farmers in Niger State could not access their farms as they used to in the past. There are many farming communities in the state where residents were not able to cultivate crops this rainy season. This security challenge is the first major challenge that has caused the rise in the prices of food items. Another challenge is the cost of transportation in bringing food from other states like Jigawa and Kano. From Jigawa State, transporters charge us between N1, 500 and N2, 000 per 100kg of grains or rice. So, when we come to resell, we have to calculate all the costs and add them to the prices for customers.”
Alhaji Dandodo said the state had potential to lead in food production if security challenges could be addressed and farmers are fully supported by the governments.
Traders projected that the price of many food items, especially maize, will rise further in the coming weeks, saying that farmers had refused to bring out the few crops they had been able to harvest to the market.
When contacted, the Spokesperson for Niger State Police Command, DSP Wasiu Abiodun, said security agencies had intensified their commitments towards ensuring that bandits and insurgents did not take control of any community in the state.
“The Police and the military, with other security agencies, are working together to ensure adequate security of lives and property in the state, while tactical teams deployed around those identified volatile areas are still being maintained to ensure that no untoward incident occurs in such areas, especially the interior areas of Munya, Rafi, Shiroro and Mariga LGAs. The tactical teams are very much on ground for quick intervention and deterrence,” he said.
The Niger State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Binta Mamman, said the state government had not relented in seeing to the end of attacks on farmers, saying that the current administration placed high premium on agriculture as one of its major policy thrust to create jobs and empower the citizens.
She said while the government would not reveal its arrangements to the public, the state had intended to use both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches to deal with the situation to allow the displaced farmers return to their respective communities.