Farmers in banditry-infested communities in the Mariga and Rafi local government councils in Niger State have said that bandits now disguise as farmers with hoes and cutlasses, while hiding guns in their cloths to invade their farms. Due to the incessant attacks, many farmers in Rafi, Munya, Mariga and Kontagora local governments, including those that had already planted their crops, have abandoned their farming lands. Residents said dozens of people were abducted on their farms in Rafi and Mariga local government areas. The chairman of Madaka Development Forum in the Rafi Local Government Area, Abdulmalik Madaka said, “Because bandits now disguise as farmers, when you see them, you would take them to be farmers. When they get close to you they would remove their guns. Many farmers have been abducted using this method. All the communities affected by banditry in Rafi Local Government are not talking of farming for now”.
In the last few weeks, many people were said to have been kidnapped on their farms. Among them was one Yusuf Kafinta, a resident of Kagara, who had a farm outside Kagara town and Islamic teacher in Kagara, Mallam Safiu was allegedly kidnapped on his farm. A farmer in Mariga, Zubairu Isah said, “Nobody is talking of farming in our area now. All our farms have been abandoned”. Another farmer in the area, Mohammed Sanusi said, “Unfortunately, last week, they attacked a village near our town, which is not more than eight kilometers away. A friend of mine narrowly escaped while on his farm. It is a daily problem. They actually stabbed my brother’s friend, but thank God that he escaped. I had to look for another place to cultivate because my farm is far and I can’t risk my life. There’s no farming activity right now”. Most of the farmers admitted that they have been living in fear and that hunger and poverty loomed as this year’s rainy season was already halfway and many of them had not been able to plant crops.