Parents in rural communities of Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State, where bandits abducted 39 children working on a farm, have pleaded with the government to rescue their children from their captors.
Daily Trust gathered that bandits in their numbers surrounded a farm on Sunday, where a number of people including boys and girls were working and abducted over 40 of them.
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A source in the Mairuwa community, one of the worst hit during the attack said the bandits surrounded the farm and started shooting sporadically before abducting the labourers.
He said the representative of the farm owner had mobilised the children after paying a levy of N1m to the bandits, adding that most of the adults working on the farm were able to escape during the attack.
“They demanded N3m from the owner for him to be able to harvest his produce, he gave them N1 million as part payment and decided to begin the work before completing the money, but unfortunately the bandits did not accept that. In our village, Mairuwa, alone we have 33 among the victims including young ladies who are due for marriage,” the source said.
Another resident of Mairuwa who corroborated this account said “The owner of the farm is a Funtua resident, but his representative is residing here in Mairuwa village. As we speak, the bandits have used the cell phone of one of the victims to call demanding a ransom of N30 million.
“They said they were at the farm to abduct the owner or his representative but because they did not meet either of them they decided to kidnap those working for them,” he added.
Daily Trust gathered that the house of the farm representative was full with parents of the victims on Monday who were lamenting the unfortunate incident, with some blaming him for risking the lives of their children, a situation that prompted the police to detain him before later releasing him on bail.
Daily Trust also gathered that a lot of communities in the frontline local government areas groan in pain as they have to pay money in millions to bandits in order for them to be allowed to harvest their farm produce. A resident of Katoge in Kankara Local Government told our reporter that bandits had placed a N2m levy on his village for access to their farms but was later negotiated down to N600,000.
“We were able to mobilise the sum of N400,000 and paid to the bandits, but we have to complete that N200,000 before we access our farms. Other surrounding villages are also threatened, the situation is really bad here,” he said.
Most of the affected communities who spoke with our correspondent appealed to relevant authorities to provide adequate security that will allow them to evacuate their farm produce.
Responding to inquiries from our correspondent, the police spokesman in Katsina, SP Gambo Isah, said there was an ongoing effort to rescue the victims with synergy between the police, the state government and other security agencies.
It was also gathered that six of the victims regained freedom on Tuesday.
2 soldiers, 25 ISWAP fighters killed in gun duel in Borno
Meanwhile, at least 28 fighters of Islamic State West Africa Provinces (ISWAP) have been neutralised when troops engaged them in a battle in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State, sources said.
It was learnt that the troops of 151 Task Force Battalion in a joint operation with Civilian Joint Task (CJTF) attached to Operation Hadin Kai stormed their hideout at Gauri village near Banki town on Sunday killing many ISWAP fighters and recovered arms and ammunition.
CJTF source told Daily Trust that at least two soldiers were killed and others sustain various degrees of injuries during the gun battle near Banki town.
“Our troops and CJTF killed about twenty-five of the ISWAP fighters and we recovered a cache of ammunition. Unfortunately, we lost two soldiers and others wounded,” the source said.
Take recent security alert seriously – Reps
The House of Representatives has called on the Nigerian Armed Forces to take the recent security alert issued by the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK) and other European countries seriously.
Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson made the call on Tuesday when the Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi (Rtd) appeared before the committee for the 2023 budget defence.
He said that the alert must be taken seriously taking into cognisance the security challenges facing the country, especially with the recent incidences of security breaches in custodial centres.
He said, “For more than sixteen years, Nigeria has witnessed a diverse and unprecedented level of insecurity in which the armed forces of Nigeria have been fully involved prompting the launch of about thirteen operations and four exercises as well as providing support for tackling several domestic security challenges.
“However, this committee requests that the Armed Forces of Nigeria should take note of the recent security alert in Nigeria by the US government.
“We urge you to effectively collaborate with sister security agencies to ensure that all security threats are completely neutralised and Nigerians can live peacefully.
“The House Committee on Defence is delighted with the successes recorded so far, especially in the last five months.”
Responding, Magashi said security had been beefed up in Abuja and the neighbouring Nasarawa and Niger states that share borders with the FCT.
He said, “We believe that there is no smoke without fire. And in that regard, we were able to subject the details to our intelligence organisations and they have provided answers to those areas which the government demands.”
Presenting the 2023 budget of the ministry, the minister said N32. 729 billion was proposed.
We’ve developed tactics to overwhelm enemies – COAS
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya Tuesday said the Nigerian Army had developed processes and tactics to overwhelm the enemies of the Nigerian state through kinetic and non-kinetic means.
Yahaya, who stated this yesterday during the defence of the army’s N600 billion 2023 budget estimates and presentation of the performance of its 2022 budget, said the budget proposal was prepared based on the need to sustain the fight against insurgency and other violent non-state actors.
He said the army had also evolved strategies to win the hearts and minds of the local population and safeguard the nation’s integrity, prestige and honour.
He said the effort required investments in its personnel’s welfare, leadership capacity building, procurement of necessary equipment, and infrastructure which were hinged on adequate funding.
He, therefore, urged the National Assembly to pass the Armed Forces of Nigeria Trust Fund bill pending before it saying passage of the bill would help improve the operations of the Nigerian army through improved funding.
He also called for a review of the current ‘envelope system’ of budgeting which he said led to inadequate funding of the Nigerian Army.
House Committee Chairman on Army, Abdulrazak Namdas, in his remarks urged the Nigerian Army to consolidate its gains in the fight against insecurity by re-strategising to ultimately defeat the enemies of the Nigerian state.
From Tijjani Ibrahim (Katsina), Olatunji Omirin (Maiduguri), Balarabe Alkassim & Itodo D. Sule (Abuja)