Farmers in Birnin-Gwari area of Kaduna, now pay bandits in order to access their farms and harvest their crops.
The farmers have parted with about N400 million in over two years to avoid getting kidnapped or killed.
Zubairu Abdulra’uf, a member of the Birnin Emirate in Kaduna State, Danmasani Birnin Gwari, said at a press conference on Thursday, that bandits demand for pre-season and mid-season payments.
Aside the charges, Abdulra’uf, a former Managing Director of Kaduna State Media Corporation (KSMC) said farmers are also mandated by the bandits to provide two to 10 bags of all the assorted grains they cultivate. He said this has been ongoing for three years.
Abdulra’uf said the rising insecurity will force people to arm themselves in a bid to protect their lives and properties, giving an instance of Randegi, an area within the state, where bandits were prevented from attacking the farm community.
He disclosed that people have been kidnapped since the start of the rainy season, with their cattle collected as well.
“N200 million was paid to bandits in Randegi district alone. When you talk of Birni-Gwari Local Government as a whole, it’s between N300 million to N400 million paid to these bandits”, he said.
While narrating their ordeal, he explained that, “There are three stages of paying these types of taxes to these bandits. You have to pay pre-season and mid-season when the crops are about to start yeilding.
“You will pay these bandits because they will not allow you to have access to your farm. Then, at the end of the season when you are harvesting, you will give these bandits money before you access your farm.
“And when you access your farm after paying these taxes, they will now tell you that apart from giving them money, you will give a ratio of two bags to 10 bags of all the assorted grains.”
Abdulra’uf further stated, “For the past three years, this is what Birnin-Gwari people have been enduring and we are now in a state of hopelessness and frustration.
“When people are frustrated, they will now look for the best option for themselves which is to arm themselves if the government cannot protect them.
“We are living in a situation where people can no longer work or even travel one kilometre from Birni Gwari town to other areas and it’s the same thing that we have in all the districts in Birnin Gwari.
“If something is not done, we are going to have a food crisis. Birnin-Gwari used to produce at least 700 metric tonnes of assorted grains but now people cannot access their farms.
“There are many cases since the beginning of this rainy season, that people are being abducted on their way to the farm and even the cattle they use for farming are being collected from them.” he said.