By Omolola Pedro
Following renewed bandit attacks in the Mashegu, Munya, Rafi, Paikoro, and Shiroro communities of Niger state, farmers have expressed fears while farming this year. As a result, they warn that hunger is looming in the state and throughout the country and as such, called on the federal and state governments to establish a permanent security base in their areas to enable them return to farms this rainy season.
It would be recalled that the Shiroro, Paikoro, and Munya local government areas are among the major producers of yams in the state with the International Yam Market located in Paiko, Paikoro headquarters. Guinean maize and beans are produced in commercial quantities in other local governments such as Rafi, Mashegu, and Marija. Representing the Adono wing of the Paikoro local government, a council member, Abraham Sabo, told journalists that, there are only few people left in the communities and villages around Adono.
“We need help from the federal and state governments and security agencies. We want security forces stationed in our communities because we used to live on God’s mercy. When the bandits come around, anyone who is able to run is out of luck. But I want to tell you that no one will be able to farm along this area in this rainy season. The N200 million earlier demanded in ransom to secure the release of more than 50 farmers kidnapped in communities in the region in March had been reduced to N100 million. Community members contributed six million naira, which we passed on to the kidnappers, but they only released 11 children. So, we are still making contributions to secure the release of the rest”, he added.
In the Chiroro Local Government Area, the President of the Lakbma Youth Association, Jibril Aloha, said farmers had for a long time, been denied access to their farms. “The situation has not changed in the Lakbma axis of eight political wards with hundreds of communities. Thieves are seen from time to time carrying out attacks. Our prayer is that when the new government comes, there will be help”, Aloha said. Additionally, farmers in the local government areas of Munya, Ravi and Mashgo said they were also worried about bandit attacks, especially as the rainy season has begun for this is usually the time that farmers are targeted for attacks.