From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Bandits have taxed some farmers in Birnin-Gwari communities of Kaduna State to pay a N12 million levy before they can harvest their crops this harvesting season.
The bandits were quoted to have threatened that if the farmers failed to pay the N12 million, they risked being kidnapped on the farms.
This was contained in a statement on Thursday by the Chairman, Birnin-Gwari Emirate Progressive Union (BEPU), Ishaq Usman Kasai.
“The bandits informed some farming communities including Kwaga, Kwanan-Shehu, Unguwan Liman and Unguwan Shekarau to pay levies amounting to N12 million (3 million each) in order for them to be allowed to continue harvesting their crops.
“These communities are giving only grace of coming Friday 30/9/2022 to meet the condition failure of which the bandits vow to kidnap any person found on farms. The Union found that these helpless communities have started making contributions based on farm size to meet the condition and the dateline.
“We are therefore appealing to the Nigerian Government to come to the aid of the helpless farming communities of Birnin-Gwari in order to allow them free access to their farms and harvest their crops without any harm or intimidation.
“Birnin-Gwari Emirate Progressive Union (BEPU) regret to report that as farmers begin to harvest their crops, armed bandits intensify their attacks and imposed levies on some farming communities in Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
“The Union updates that, the 6 people kidnapped at farm centre on Saturday 24/9/2022 who were of Kwaga Community were released yesterday Wednesday 28/9/2022 after providing to the bandits – 20 Mudu of rice, 20 Mudu of beans, 25 litres of red oil, 25 litres of groundnut oil and recharge card of N10,000.
“Also, the 4 people of Unguwan Liman who were kidnapped on Saturday 24/9/2022 and one at Unguwan Shekarau were released yesterday Wednesday after payment of 2 million and N500,000 respectively.
“The Union is however pleased to report that the 5 farmers earlier kidnapped on Thursday 15/9/2022 at Kurgin Gabas and Sabon-Layi areas have luckily escaped from the kidnappers’ den in the early hours of Friday 22/9/2022 after spending a week in captivity.
“Regrettably, a farmer was killed at Shiwaka community on Tuesday 27/9/2022 after been tied to a tree; and more than 20 people were kidnapped yesterday Wednesday 28/9/2022 at different farms in JANGALI and KWAGA areas,” the statement said.