Harvest: Bandits Impose Levies On Farmers In Kaduna State
Bandits has imposed levies on farmers before harvest in Kaduna State.
Daily Trust reports that villagers in some communities of Kaduna State, specifically in the local governments of Igabi, Giwa, and Birnin Gwari, are facing challenges as bandits continue to intimidate and harass them, forcing many of them to abandon their farmlands.
Despite security agencies’ efforts in raiding bandits’ camps in the areas, villagers report ongoing terror by the bandits. The farmers are compelled to pay levies to the bandits to allow them to harvest their crops and access their farmlands.
The affected communities, such as Kidandan, Galadimawa Kerawa, Sabon Layi, Sabon Birni and Ruma, witness residents paying between N70,000 and N100,000 to bandits for permission to harvest.
Those who refuse to comply face severe consequences, including abduction, murder, or confiscation of their produce.
Residents, like Malam Jamil Kidandan, said some are thinking of relocating from the area.
“The situation is particularly dire on the Galadimawa axis. We appeal to security agencies to intensify raids on bandit camps around Giwa LGA,” he said.
According to him, farmers without money most often have their crops confiscated.
In Kerawa village, a resident, Shafi’u Kerawa, confirmed the payment of levies to bandits before harvesting, emphasising the need for increased security presence, especially along the Tsako to Kerawa road, due to the persistent threat by bandits.
“As the dry season approaches, farmers are eager to harvest their crops, but the absence of security personnel makes it challenging for them to venture into nearby bushes,” he said.
According to him, Kerawa town is big and full of farmers, but lack of the presence of police or soldiers makes the residents vulnerable to bandits’ attacks.
In Ruma village, located behind Kaduna Airport Road, in Igabi Local Government Area, many farmers have abandoned their farms, relocating to safer communities to avoid the terror and levies imposed by bandits.
A resident from Sabon Birni village near the Kaduna Airport, said bandits have turned the villagers into their workers, compelling them to toil on bandit-owned farms, especially in Ruma village.
“Those without money to pay are forced to sell their crops to raise the levies or even work on the bandits’ farmlands,” he said.
Malam Jafar Anaba, a displaced community leader from Anguwar Salahu, near Kerawa village, warns of a potential food shortage in the state if the insecurity persists.
“Many farmers have abandoned their farms due to the constant threat of banditry in the area, and this has affected our productivity,” he said.
In Eastern Birnin Gwari, Hudu Kwasakwasa, a resident said their community experiences less interference from bandits due to the presence of Ansaru militants.
According to him, farmers in the area work without fear of forced levies since bandits avoid the community to avoid encounter with the Ansaru militants.
However, he explained that neighbouring communities in Katsina State, with whom they share border, suffered as the bandits destroyed farms at will.
Farmers sell houses, farms to pay levies – Union
The Birnin Gwari Emirate Progressive Union Chairman, Ishaq Kasai, said the farmers have no choice but to pay levies to cultivate and harvest their crops.
“Bandits continue to terrorise rural communities in the western part of the LGA, limiting farmers to planting on only 30% of their farmlands despite payment,” he said.
According to him, communities like Kasakaki, Ganda, and Mashigi in western Birnin Gwari face extortion by bandits to be allowed to harvest crops.
Kasai highlighted that non-compliance could lead to the killing or abduction of farmers.
“In some cases, even after paying levies, bandits may detain labourers, demanding additional money for their release,” he lamented.
Kasai further revealed that the bandits have impoverished the people in those areas, causing many to abandon farmlands inside the bush and return to lands near their communities.
However, the villagers still face intimidation in areas like Sabon Layi, Dawakin Bass and Kulgin Gabas, where nobody farmed without settling the bandits.
Kasai suggested that security agencies should raid bandits’ camps across the LGA, especially in remote villages, as the only way to combat the problem.
We are doing our best to inform security agencies – Lawmakers
When contacted, the member representing Kakangi Constituency in the State House of Assembly, Yahaya Musa (Dan Salio), said it was true that bandits are terrorising farmers in his constituency and other areas.
“I’m from Dogon Dawa area. Even a few days ago, the bandits seized a vehicle with crops in the Kakangi area. The car owner was held hostage until ransom was paid to the bandits.
“This is also happening around the Damari area. You have to part with a certain amount of money before they allow you to harvest. Those who don’t have money will be forced to sell their crops to settle the bandits.
“Sometimes, the bandits will wait until the farmers harvest the crops before approaching them to ask for levies. Those who do not have money are forced to sell their crops to pay the levies,” he said.
He said he has been calling on the authorities concerned to take measures to end the insecurity in remote villages.
“If a local farmer will plant his crops and end up being forced to pay levies to bandits, it means the situation is serious. This is because only a few people in villages even have the chance to farm, and at the end, they lose what they farm to bandits. How then can the people survive?
“This is why it’s very important for the government to secure and protect the lives and properties of the people to give them a sense of belonging. Recently, we got the report that the security agencies carried out an operation around the axis, and it was successful, but more needs to be done,” he said.
The lawmaker added that the insecurity along the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari highway has reduced due to security operations, but the major challenge is how the bandits terrorise villagers in their homes at night as well as on their farms.
Another lawmaker, Shehu Abubakar, popularly known as Shehu NULGE, representing Magajin Gari Constituency at the State Assembly, explained that recently, lawmakers from Birnin Gwari, including their federal counterparts, paid a courtesy visit to the Chief of Army Staff to discuss the security situation in the area.
“I was called last week that at Angwar Laya village and some communities around, the bandits demanded N8 million and motorcycles, which I immediately reported to the council chairman.
“They (bandits) made it compulsory for farmers to pay the levies before harvesting their crops. So, it’s not a hidden thing. As a lawmaker, I have been doing my duty by constantly reporting the issue to both the state government and security agencies,” he said.
The councillor representing Kidandan Ward in Giwa LGA, who is also the speaker of the council, Comrade Abdullahi Ismail, expressed concern over the incessant kidnappings in the area.
He said farmers are being abducted while working on their farms, describing the situation as disturbing.
He said vigilantes, recruited to enhance security, are actively working to support farmers in harvesting their crops.
“We are sensitising religious leaders, traditional leaders, community leaders, and herdsmen to the need to find a solution to the issue. However, farmers are facing a serious predicament in this area,” he stated.
Councillor Ismail said abductions in the Kidandan area have become a daily occurrence, saying that within five days, approximately 15 villagers were abducted. He prayed for divine intervention.
We are doing our best to address the issue – Commissioner
Kaduna State Commissioner overseeing Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan said the government is doing its best to address the issue.
“Kaduna State Government is aware of the development and if you check out previous response it’s an issue the government made public with an appeal to security agencies to intensify efforts so that we can be able to content the situation.
“ We are conscious of this problem and we are also doing the best we can in order to ensure we overcome the situation,” he said.
He said the government is sympathizing with those affected and it is doing its best adding that recently there were series of air interjections, ground operations around in those locations.
The Public Relations Officer, ASP Mansir Hassan, could not be reached by phone, and there was no reply to a text message seeking his reaction.