Hundreds of villagers in Damari town under Kazage Ward in the eastern part of Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State are fleeing their homes en masse after bandits dislodged members of the Ansaru terrorist group last week after a fierce fight.
A local union said at least 50 persons have been abducted by the bandits in the last three days.
The locals believed that Ansaru members were lesser evils compared to bandits abducting people for ransom, looting property or killing those who show little resistance to their excesses.
The villagers recently came under attacks by bandits that besieged the farming community on a “vengeance mission” over last week’s clash with Ansaru terrorists in the area.
The terrorists, who had been protecting the communities from the bandits, had relocated from the area days after a deadly clash with bandits, which resulted in casualties from both sides.
Sources said the Ansaru fighters had moved to communities in Danmusa in Katsina State and parts of Zamfara and Sokoto states.
“It’s not yet clear if they’ve finally relocated or they’d seek reinforcement and come back in the coming days,” a native of the area said yesterday.
It was learnt that most of the relocating locals passed through Unguwar Gajere towards Layin Dan’auta where the district head lives.
The source said, “For now, the bandits are in charge and are having a field day attacking our people.
“Our people see the Ansaru fighters as protectors because they don’t attack or steal our property. They only preach their kind of religion and urge our people, especially the youths, to join them. They also lead prayers like during the eid and arbitrate over land, marriage and other issues.”
The Birnin-Gwari Emirate Progressives Union (BEPU), in a statement by its chairman, Ishaq Usman Kasai, expressed concern ý over the rate at which people were fleeing the area.
He said women and children were seen trekking for safety as of 11 am on Friday with about 20 vehicles seen conveying people out of the community.
“The union had reported two days ago, the cruel activities of bandits, killing and abducting people in Damari and adjourning areas.
“On Thursday, July 28, 2022, the bandits passed through the same Damari town shooting in the air sporadically and came back to the town in the early hours of Friday which is a market day, snatched motorcycles, seized money from marketers, rustled cattle and kidnapped scores, including a grain businesses man,” he said.
Ishaq said there was no presence of security agents in the town, adding that it was against this disturbing situation that they were calling on the authorities to urgently mobilise security personnel to the community.
There was no official comment from the military, the police and the Kaduna State Government.
A resident, who simply identified himself as Mohammad Kuyello, said: “It was really sad seeing our people abandon their farms. They’re also leaving their property. The bandits have taken over Damari as we speak because they’re going house to house carting away foodstuffs and people’s property as if there is no government.”
Another source said between Saturday and Sunday, over 100 vehicles were seen taking people to safety.
“People with their animals are still leaving as there’s no military presence. An influential medical personality, who has a hospital, mobilised troops who helped him evacuate his equipment from Damari.
“The implication is that people prefer terrorists to bandits and this is dangerous because, by the time the terrorists fully indoctrinate the people and change their perception, they would collectively turn against the state and the people who refuse to join them.
“Of course, there’s a military super camp at Mu’azu, but they’re yet to respond to the emergency… Maybe they’re waiting for something,” he said.