For years, persons of easy virtues have made Remon village in Dange Shuni Local Government of Sokoto State a sanctuary of sorts. The lid was however blown with an expose by Daily Trust published penultimate Sunday, which led to ransacking of the community by security forces.
Remon village, located in Dambuwa area of Dange Shuni Local Government Area of Sokoto State, has been a source of a serious concern to residents of the state because of alleged nefarious activities taking place there.
The area is said to provide shelter to all sort of criminals, including drugs peddlers, cultists, prostitutes and even armed robbers.
It is a place where people go to look for their stolen goods and missing girls, and in most cases recover them.
However, with a publication of a story by this newspaper last week, security operatives on Saturday raided the village in a mass crackdown leading to arrest of over 100 suspects.
The joint operation led by the police included officers of the Nigerian Army, National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Road Safety Corps, Department of State Service and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The operation took place around 5pm and lasted for almost two hours.
The suspects were driven to the police headquarters and kept at the Criminal Investigation Department of the command
Our reporter who was at the headquarters observed that among the arrested suspects were women and young men.
Confirming the operation, the spokesman of the Command, ASP Sanusi Abubakar said 144 suspects had been arrested and a lot of illicit drugs recovered during the raid.
“We will investigate them all and those that are found wanting would be prosecuted,” he said
The menace called Remon
Malam Muhammad, a resident of Kossai which is a few meters from Remon, had told our reporter how he traced the thief that broke into his house to Remon village.
“The unwanted guest came in the middle of the night. He broke into my room, stole our phones and ran away.
“When I realised what happened, I woke all my children up and we started tracing his footsteps which ended in a house at Remon Village. We succeeded in apprehending the suspect and recovering all our phones after which we handed him over to the police.
“The place is giving the people living around that area a sleepless night. It harbours all sorts of criminals; most of whom are not from Sokoto State,” he said.
Our reporter who sneaked into the village around 7pm, observed people of both genders from different ethnicity having fun in their own way. While some were smoking Indian hemp, others were taking hard drugs, with the prostitutes soliciting for customers.
It was observed that children from the neighbourhood watch what goes on with keen interest, raising the fear of one of the residents that it was just a matter of time before most of the children join the bandwagon.
The resident, who sought anonymity, said they had written complaints letters to security agencies, state government and traditional rulers but no serious measures have been taken to address the problem.
“They will only send police to patrol the area for some days, that is all.
“We want the government to take over the place even if that will mean relocating innocent residents of the area to another place,” he said.
The village head of Dambuwa, Alhaji Abubakar Dambuwa, recalled the several efforts they had made in the past to make those doing illegal businesses in the area change for the better.
“What is going on there is abominable and irreligious. No religion, whether Islam or Christianity, condones it.
“A lot of immoral things are going on there. They do all sort of things and this is affecting the moral upbringing of our children, especially the girls.
“You will not understand the gravity of the information you have about the place until you visit the area.”
On the effort he made to bring sanity to the area, he said “I had been making effort to make them change before I was down with old age and sickness.
“I used to invite the people doing all these things to my palace and counselled them on the need to change their businesses with lawful ones but they never heeded my advice,” he said.
On whether he had reported the matter to the state government, Sultanate counsel or security agencies, he said he did not make any formal report but there was a time a committee was set up by the state government comprising all the traditional leaders around that area, the Divisional Police Officer of Dange-Shuni, the chairman of the local government and the Director DSS among others over the matter which was short-lived.
He appealed to the state government to take decisive measures over the issue for the sake of moral upbringing of its citizens.
“We want the place cleared. The government can convert it to something more beneficial to our people,” he said
Another resident of the area suggested that the place could be converted to a hospital, which they have been lacking in the area.
Daily Trust gathered that some of the houses in the village were owned by either retired or serving army personnel because of the village’s proximity to Giginya Barrack. Most of the people in the community were said to be non-indigenes of the state.
“Majority of them are from other parts of the country, particularly south east. They are the ones bringing and selling illicit substances in the village.
“This people can spend any amount to rent a shop in Mammy market and use it as a hideout for their goods. What they bring to Remon village is just a small quantity and they always have their uptakers waiting to buy them and go.
“The irony is that the place is being patronized by high profiled people and some security operatives. That is why it is very difficult to destroy the place,” a resident of Sokoto who is privy to the activities in the village alleged.
A serving officer who pleaded not to be named told our reporter that the village was founded by a retired soldier called Remon.
“I don’t go there. But there was a time I visited the place to see for myself what I have been hearing about it. And my findings were astonishing. You will see all sorts of people there.
“But the place is not under our care. It is not part of our barrack. Only the police and other sister agencies can operate there. We can only support them on request,” he said.
The former Commander of Sokoto Hisbah Commission, Dr. Adamu Bello Kasarawa, said the village was used for selling and buying illicit substances, including imported Indian hemp as well as serves as a hideout for criminals.
He added that most girls, especially minors, who suddenly go missing are always traced to the place. “Even yesterday, a girl who had been missing for days was found kept inside one of the houses in the village. That is where we used to go to look for missing girls during my time,” he said.
On why it was difficult for Hisbah to raid the place, he said it was because among those patronizing the place were security operatives.
Another reason was the fear of attack because some of the people there would do anything to evade arrest.
The Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Abdullahi Abdul, had told Daily Trust that the activities at the village have been suppressed.
“Five suspects arrested in the village have been charged to court and some have been convicted.
“My men raid the area every two days and we are getting the support of the army as well as the original residents of the area.
“Even yesterday (last Wednesday) we received and acted on a report by a military personnel and this led to the arrest of a suspected drug peddler and we recovered illicit drugs. The peddler will be charged as soon as investigation is concluded,” he said
Government’s steps against Remon, others
Sokoto State recently established Tenancy Control and Safety of Persons Commission which was mandated to demolish any premises used for criminal activities and prosecute the owner of the premises.
The law establishing the commission also empowers it to prosecute residents of the area for not reporting such criminal activities to the relevant authorities for action.
In a recent press briefing, the chairman of the Commission, Muhammad Namadina Abdurrahman, explained that the commission was necessitated by the prevailing security situation in the state and the country at large.
“No sensible government will allow things to continue the way it is now. On our own part, we assure you that we will do our best to ensure our dear state is safe.
“We want to ensure that persons with dubious character do not operate or maintain any premises for the purpose of perpetrating illegalities, criminal activities or any activity inimical to security of our communities,” he said.
He further promised to work with security agencies, traditional rulers, vigilante groups and civil society organizations to ensure the state was secured against any criminal act.
The crackdown on Remon at the weekend signposts the beginning of the government’s effort in this respect.