The Boko Haram is stealthily expanding its frontiers of domination to the North-West state of Kebbi, after bandits sponsored by the terrorists invaded communities in Zuru in neighbouring Niger State last month.
Hundreds of armed gunmen, suspected to be the coalition of bandits and Boko Haram, have been reportedly laying siege to the Danko/Wasagu Local Government Area of part of Zuru Emirate in Kebbi State.
The LGA, which is inhabited by the Dakakari people, more commonly referred to as the Zuru, has been suffering silently under an ongoing violence that has been ignored by the relevant authorities.
Accounts of residents obtained by SaharaReporters backed with documents showed that from January 2020 to January 2021, the peaceful farming communities in the LGA have lost 363 persons to the coalition of banditry and terrorism attacks.
Within the same period, 201 persons were kidnapped with N70.6 million paid as ransom to the attackers.
Some of the documents which are government records state that 3,915 cattle were rustled while about 2,355 sheep and 150 camels were stolen from these farmers.
SaharaReporters learnt that Daku/Wasagu LGA shares border with some of the ungoverned spaces of Zamfara State to its north and to its east, the notorious Kamuku Game Reserves, in-between Kaduna and Niger states.
“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 in our hands shows that they are expanding their spaces as many communities on the fringes of the Local Government Area have fled their villages and the coalition of the armed groups taking control unchallenged,” a source revealed.
Some of the victims, who share heartbreaking experiences, lamented that since the gunmen started attacking their communities especially since last year, the government had been silent and done nothing.
Nuhu Bitrus, 44, father of four kids, from Munhaye village, in Wasagu Chiefdom, who has become an internally displaced person in Dabai, a suburb of Zuru town, Zuru LGA of Kebbi State narrated his ordeal.
He said, “In their last attack on this community, 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.
“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. Some people said they saw some of the Fulani that had lived with us but left some time ago. But these gunmen also had people from Niger Republic and even Chad.
“Ever since that time, we have managed to pack our belongings and travelled 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.
“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, was 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.
“They came in large numbers pairing in two or three on motorcycles around 4pm on the 1st of April, 2021. I am sure they were over 300. They just started shooting, killing and looting. They killed 17 persons that day, including our Mai anguwa (sub-village head), Mallam 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 stated.
According to him, the governor made a donation of N50,000 to each family that had children that were orphaned due to the violence. He said that his village which has about 300 households with large fertile land 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.
A 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. I am aware that a N2 million ransom was paid after spending 41 days in the hands of the bandits.”
All attempts to speak to the Chairman of the affected LGA, Alhaji Sule Barshi, was not possible at the time of filing this report.
Rhoda James, 85, mother of 10 children, escaped by luck. She lost her grandson, Augustine, and his son, James. Her sister, Mary was kidnapped with her two grandchildren and her daughter-in-law, and kept for 100 days until a ransom of N2 million was paid.