*fleeing victims narrate their ordeal.
By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
Armed gunmen in hundreds, suspected to be bandits and members of Boko Haram, have been laying siege on Danko/Wasagu Local Government Area, part of Zuru Emirate in Kebbi State.
The LGA which is inhabited by the Dakakari people, commonly referred to as the ‘Zuru’, has been suffering silently under an ongoing violence that has allegedly been ignored by the relevant authorities.
Official authenticated documents sighted show that from January 2020 to January 31, 2021, the peaceful farming communities in this LGA have lost 363 persons to banditry attacks with 16 securing severe injuries.
Within the same period, ransom of N70.6 million was paid after 201 persons were kidnapped.
The recorded number of rustled cattle is put at 3,915 outside the 2,355 sheep and 150 camels that were stolen from these farmers. Six women were reportedly raped and while 114 Motorcycles were either burnt or stolen.
The 4,016km sq area of this LGA is close to the 4, 884Kmsq land area of Anambra State.
Daku/Wasagu LGA shares border some of the ungoverned spaces of Zamfara to its North and by its east, the notorious Kamuku Game reserves that also straddles Kaduna and Niger State.
Most of these forested and hilly areas are under the control of bandits.
It is now feared that they may have joined forces with Boko Haram. Information gathered shows that they are expanding their spaces as many communities on the fringes of the local government area have fled their communities and the bandits taking control unchallenged.
The survivors, who shared their heartbreaking experiences to our reporter, lamented that since the gunmen started attacking their communities especially since last year, the government has done nothing to ensure their return.
Nuhu Bitrus, 44, Father of four kids, from Munhaye village, in Wasagu Chiefdom, who has become an IDP in Dabai, a suburb of Zuru town, Zuru LGA of Kebbi State spoke to our correspondent on Saturday.
“In their last attack on the 23rd January, 2021, they stormed our village on over 100 motorbikes.
“They just went straight and started shooting and killing. We lost 33 people and they kidnapped about 20 women among them, little children,” he said.
“We have had disagreements with Fulani in the past and we know what they can do. But these ones were Boko Haram.
“In our own case, they just came to kill, not to steal,” he said.
“Some people said they saw some of the Fulani that had lived with us but left some time ago,” he narrated. “But these gunmen also had people from Niger Republic and even Chad.
“Ever since that time, we have managed to pack our belongings and travel for over three hours to be received here. Our village is a large one with over 500 compounds and we were prosperous farmers who could take care of our needs and sponsor our kids in school. Now we cannot go near the village.
“No one is talking about us. I am happy you came.” He said.
Speaking further, he explained that, “We don’t want anything from the government. All we want is a secured condition so that we can return home to our farming. That’s all we are asking.”
Wakala Audu, 50, is said to be a rich farmer. He is married with two wives and is a father of 11 children. He is also an IDP from D’Lombo village in Wasagu Chiefdom with his entire household. Our reporter spoke to him at Sabon Gari, a rocky suburb of Zuru town .
“They came in large numbers pairing in two or three on motorcycles around 4pm on the 1st of April, 2021,” he recalled.
“I am sure they are over 300. They were just started shooting, killing and looting. They killed 17 persons that day, including our mai unguwa (sub-village head), Malam Maifada Matu. They stole my 23 cows and hundreds of cows belonging to my relations and other residents of the village.
“We escaped into the bush with our wives and children. After two days, the Governor (Bagudu Atiku) came. I was not around when he spoke. I was busy trying to take my family away. Besides that, we had corpses of our people that we had not buried and they were going bad, ‘he said.
According to him, the governor made a donation of N50,000 to each family that had children that were orphaned from the violence. According to him, the village which has about 300 households with large fertile lands, was now deserted as residents escaped leaving behind valuables they could not carry in a hurry.
“Nobody is saying anything about us. I am surprised you came,” he said.
He said that his major wish was to return home and face his farming if security is assured.
Great grandmother, Rhoda James (85) who had given birth to 11 children, is also taking refuge at Dabai with 17 young women who were widowed in the January 2021 Munhaye attacks. She said that she lost her son, James (42) and a grandson, Augustine (30).
“They killed over 30 people and kidnapped 23 people. My junior sister Mary, her son, his wife and two children were kidnapped,” she said. “I am aware that a N2 million ransom was paid after spending 41 days in the hands of the bandits. .
The gory stories are the same from the IDPs who have been suffering in silence.
It was however, gathered from other sources that Governor Atiku Bagudu, accompanied by other top government officials has visited the area to commiserate with victims.
All attempts to speak to the Chairman of the affected LGA, Hon. Sule Barshi was not possible at the time of filing this report.