As a result of a bandit attack that took place in the Mairuwa community in the Katsina state located in northwestern Nigeria on October 31, 2022, 39 children who were working in a field harvesting crops were taken hostage by those unidentified gunmen. According to the police report on Wednesday, it confirmed that the children who were unable to get away were taken by bandits who had surrounded the farm where a lot of people were working.
One person that witnessed the scenario, Mr. Adamu Abdullahi, said that the Mairuwa community had suffered the most damage so far as a result of the bandits’ actions. According to him, in the most recent incident, the bandits surrounded the farm and started shooting recklessly before kidnapping the workers. During the invasion, most of the adults who were working on the farm were able to flee, but the children were not so fortunate.
Farm owners pay bandits before harvesting their farms.
According to the reports, the bandits were outraged by the fact that the owner of the farm was unable to pay a levy that had been imposed on him in order for him to be granted permission to harvest the crops. They requested N3 million ($4,800) from the farm owner, but he only paid an advance payment of $1,600 and decided to start the work before he finished paying the bill. However, the bandits were not pleased, and they invaded the farm and took the children hostage for ransom. Also, the bandits called using a mobile phone belonging to one of the victims and are demanding a ransom of N30 million ($50,000).
Mr. Abdullahi said that the bandits had gone to the farm with the intention of kidnapping the owner or his representative, but when they could not locate either of these individuals, the bandits made the decision to take people who worked for them instead. The victims’ parents insisted that the farm’s owner and his representative put their children in danger. It has become common practice for farmers to make payments in the form of levies to bandits before they are granted permission to harvest their crops.
Security failure has given bandits authority over people’s affairs.
Speaking further, Mr. Abdul Abubakar, a resident of Katoge in Kankara, Katsina, stated that what is happening currently to farmers in the northwest is a result of the failure of security. According to him, the people in Katoge were required to pay a levy of N2 million, which is equivalent to $3,200, in order to get access to their farm. Also on Wednesday, the spokesperson for the state police command in Katsina, Mr Gambo Isah, acknowledged the kidnapping of the children as well as the demand for a ransom. He also assured that attempts would be made to recover the youngsters. While on November 1, 2022, he said that six of the children, out of a total of 39, were given their freedom back.
Also, the chairman of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Katsina State chapter, Mr. Musa Danhassan, expressed concern that bandits in northwest Nigeria were exploiting local farmers for financial gain by imposing levies and fees due to the government’s incapacity to provide security to the rural region. He said that the state had seen the closure of over 400 poultry farms because of insecurity and that more would close if the government did not take strong action against the bandits and kidnappers.
Banditry is ravaging the poultry sector in the state.
Moreover, the poultry farms are situated in dangerous areas where abduction and kidnapping are common, prompting the farmers to flee the fields in order to save their lives. Everyone knows that you can’t start a chicken farm in the middle of a town or city. It has to be on the edge of town or in a village. That is where the birds will receive sufficient space and air, and yet bandits and kidnappers have refused to provide them with the space, therefore, nobody will want to put their life at risk. Danhassan said. He pleaded with the state government to help the farmers and act quickly to bring peace back to areas where there was violence, so that the farmers could get back to work.