Banditry: Why displaced villagers are unable to return Home

Villagers who fled Jangem in Gusau Local Government Area of Zamfara State have not been able to return home after they failed to pay the ransom demanded by robbers who have been terrorising them.

Their trouble started when some members of the village escaped from the robbers who had abducted them. The kidnappers had demanded a payment of millions of naira for their release.

A Jangem dweller told SaharaReporters that the robbers, who are widely referred to as bandits, returned to ask the entire village to raise the ransom or face annihilation.

The residents then deserted the village in droves, fearing that the bandits would kill them since they have been unable to raise enough money for the ransom.

“The attack took place on July 31st around 4:25 am during morning prayer,” the anxious villager, who did not want to be identified due to fear of being killed by the bandits, began to narrate their ordeal.

“They kidnapped six people, five men and one woman. The reason why they took the woman was that they couldn’t find her husband. So, she represented her husband according to them.

“It was after this they called for ransom; none of us in the village have the millions of naira they requested. While the negotiation was going on, and we were in the process of how to generate the money, the kidnapped victims escaped.

“But before they arrived at their houses, the bandits called the district head threatening him to bring the money even if it’s not complete; they took the money we generated to the bandits’ den. Unfortunately, they kidnapped all those who went to pay the ransom.

“Consequently, they again escaped from the den of the bandits. The bandits later called and threatened the whole village. They said if the money is not given to them, they would attack the village and set it on fire. Many people have moved out of the village because of fear of further attack. The bandits can any moment from now attack us again because we don’t have the money.”

The villager said the bandits had stopped the residents who are mainly smallholder farmers from going to their farms.

He accused the state government of downplaying the dangers the farmers are facing to give the impression that the peace deal which the governor had with the bandits had been successful.

“We can no longer take self-defence because the government scrapped vigilante. We surrendered our weapons. We thought it was all over. We thought the peace deal initiated by the governor would work. Unfortunately, the bandits failed to heed to the agreement.”

He said the government had not taken any actions to guarantee their security and no official from the government had visited the village since the people ran away.

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