Terrorists abduct 44 residents, place N20m ‘protection levy’ on northern Nigerian community

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Armed-Bandits in northern Nigeria

Not less than 44 residents including 39 women and children and five men were abducted in Kanwa village of Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State Thursday night.

Two local sources, however, told Abuja-based online news medium, PREMIUM TIMES, that five women managed to escape from the terrorists’ camp.

Kanwa, surrounded by hills, is under Zurmi but closer to Kaura Namoda area. It is also close to the dreaded Rugu forest.

A local source in Zurmi town, Musa Abdullahi, told PREMIUM TIMES over the phone that the terrorists invaded the community at night.

“They went straight to the village square and started gathering residents. You know most time, men run to the bush because they know the bandits mostly kill men. The five men taken were very unlucky,” he said.

He said the terrorists suspected to be from Dankarami’s camp, had yet to contact the relatives of the abductees to discuss ransom payment.

Another source, who pleaded anonymity for security reasons, also said five out of the 39 women escaped.

“Yes, they returned on the same night (Thursday) but had to be helped by some vigilante members to reach home because it was in the night. They said they escaped because of the high number of abductees,” he said.

He said the escapees were lucky to have followed another route while the terrorists were leading the victims to their hideouts.

A native of the community, Jamilu Shehu, said residents have started gathering money to pay the levy.

Mr Shehu said the deal was struck when some elders in the community met with a group of terrorists from the Bello Turji’s camp.

“Some weeks ago, some of our people were abducted when the ransom money was gathered, some of our elders went to pay the ransom and decided to talk with the bandits. They said we must pay a total of N20 million for protection which includes free access to our farms.

“They also promised to protect us from attack by some other bandits in the area. Infact, they said from here to Birnin Gwari, anywhere any of our residents is abducted, we should let them know. But the problem is getting the money,” Mr Shehu, who is a youth leader told PREMIUM TIMES on phone.

He added that the elders in the community have accepted the decision and it has been decided that every household should pay nothing less than N6,500 to make the sum.

When PREMIUM TIMES called the police spokesperson in the state, Mohammed Shehu, he said he couldn’t hear our reporter very well because he was driving.

A message was sent to him but he didn’t respond for over an hour before the story was filed.

Communities especially in Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto and Niger States have been made to pay millions of naira to terrorists as protection levies before they are allowed to go to their farms or even live peacefully in their houses.

But the deal is mostly abused as the terrorists always renege on their promise and return to their old ways of attacking residents.

PREMIUM TIMES

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