The government of Niger State has stated that it was not aware that villagers were being taxed or extorted by members of the ISWAP/Boko-Haram/armed bandits who had established themselves in various local government areas in the state.
Some criminal elements in Rumbun Giwa, Mashegu Local Government Area, Niger State, recently wrote under the pseudonym ‘Kungiyan Manuma,’ ordering all farmers to pay certain levies and fees before accessing their farms to gather their produce.
Mr. Emmanuel Umar, the State Commissioner for Local Government, Community Development, Chieftaincy Affairs, and Internal Security, revealed this while providing a security report and discussing attempts to free locals from exploitation by the organizations.
Despite this, the commissioner said the state administration had responded by urging residents, particularly farmers who were being compelled to pay before entering their farm fields, to ignore the armed men and continue about their everyday lives.
However, lamenting that the security situation had been exaggerated by a film circulating on social media about the state, the commissioner stated that the struggle against insurgency was a conflict between evil and good that required all hands on deck to triumph.
“Until and until we respond to the challenge, it will consume everyone,” the commissioner stated, fearing that the people, who have historically been the first to be attacked by armed bandits, should be prepared to act now to prevent additional loss of life and property.
The commissioner expressed regrets that “some unpatriotic people are fueling insecurity and crisis in the state, but the government is not resting on its oars,” while encouraging communities to become more resilient and not to bow to intimidation in order to frustrate armed bandits defying their commands.
While urging farmers not to follow the command and assuring them of their safety and property, the commissioner also revealed plans by the state government to form a vigilante corps that would work with police to address current security concerns.