- Farmers in the northwest have cried out over high rate of banditry and kidnappings in the zone
- The farmers said the bandits tax them before allowing them access to their farms
- Food insecurity may be triggered in the country if urgent measures are not taken to curb this trend
There are indications that the high rate of banditry and kidnappings in the northwest of Nigeria may affect food production in the area by over 50 per cent.
Legit.ng reports that officials of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) and Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) who expressed the view in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), added that the criminal activities are wiping out family incomes.
The farmers in the northwest geopolitical zone said the bandits have resorted to taxing them before they can have access to their farms.
They said apart from this, most of them have been forced to abandon their farms, adding that except something urgent was done to end banditry; food insecurity would be triggered in the country.
They noted that already, bandits had displaced more than 10,000 households, mostly peasant farmers, in Zamfara, while in Kebbi, the hub of rice farming in Nigeria, no fewer than 350 farmers had been forced to abandon their farms by the criminals.
The secretary of AFAN in Kebbi, Muhammad Idris, told NAN in Birnin Kebbi that banditry had affected farmers and cattle breeders.
“Over 350 farmers have been affected as a result of the banditry in Danko/Wasagu, Argungu, Yauri, Ngaski, Zuru and Birnin Kebbi local government areas. Our members, especially rice farmers, have stopped going to their farmlands in those areas for fear of being kidnapped or killed.
“Rice farming is not like any other farming as it requires constant and close monitoring; you have to be closer and observant of how it grows and the level of water and all that, hence you have to be going to the farm everyday if not, it will not yield positive result," he said.
Idris urged the security agencies to be on the watch and take action against any suspicious character in the state and also solicited the involvement of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to tackle the menace.
“If the drivers are involved, they can alert the security agencies of any suspicious person they transport and the security agencies will in turn follow the suspect based on the drivers’ tip-off and make necessary investigation," he advised.
The secretary added that traditional rulers should be involved to ensure a holistic approach in dealing with the criminals.
The commissioner of police in Kebbi, Garba Danjuma, said the command had been working hard to stamp out all forms of crime in the state.
“We have made some frantic efforts in reducing crime and criminalities, especially in the cases of kidnapping, armed robbery and other heinous crimes,” he said.
According to him, the command recently arrested over 21 suspected kidnappers and investigating them.
“I enjoin members of the public to always avail the police with timely and accurate information about any suspicious persons with assurance that all information given will be treated with utmost confidentiality,” the police commissioner said.
Also, the state chairman of Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Lawal Augie, called for the involvement of the neighborhood security watch group to strengthen attacks on bandits, kidnappers and other criminals. According to him, the group has 40 members in each of the 225 wards in the state.
He said: “Imagine if we can get appropriate care and support from the state government and individuals in the state, we will overcome the menace and deal a heavy blow on the bandits wherever they are in the state."
A farmer, Garba Isah, in Gwadangwaji area of Birinin Kebbi, said due to rampant kidnapping he was unable to go to the farm for sometime out of fear and warned that the situation could trigger food insecurity. Isah called on the federal and state governments to evolve means of ending the menace.
Also, AFAN in Kaduna state said if government failed to take decisive measures to check kidnapping and banditry, food production in Nigeria would drop by over 70 per cent.
Alhaji Nuhu Aminu, the state AFAN chairman, called for a holistic approach involving all stakeholders, including governments at all levels and members of the society to effectively tackle the menace.
The chairman said many farmers had lost hope in their farming businesses due to security concerns in the Northwest.
“As I am talking to you now, those that are willing to go and cultivate their farmlands are not up to 30 per cent because of fear of kidnapping.
“There is every need for government to declare a state of emergency on security because without adequate security, many will not have courage to cultivate their farms. However, the issue of security is a responsibility of all, hence the need for all of us to support the security agencies with vital information toward addressing the problems,” he said.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that troops of the Nigerian Army neutralised two bandits and recovered some weapons after raiding one of their den in Gonan Bature east of Rijana and Kasarami farmhouse in Chikun local government area of Kaduna state.
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