Suspected bandits have allegedly issued letters warning farmers in Zamfara State to stay away from their farmlands in this year’s cropping season or face dire consequences, Daily Trust has gathered.
Hundreds of hectares of farmland have still not been cleared in the state despite the fast approaching farming season, it has been further learnt.
Some of the farmers, who spoke to our reporter in Dansadau town in Maru Local Government Area of the state, expressed fear over what they described as the high risk involved in going to clear and prepare their farmlands for cropping activities.
Last month, suspected bandits killed four farmers who went to clear their farmlands in Bungudu Local Government Area of Zamfara State after warning them to stay away from their farms, farmers in the area said.
A farmer, Yusuf Galadima, said his farm was about two kilometres from Dansadau town but that he couldn’t go for the “kaibe” (land clearing in Zamfara dialect) due to fear of attack by bandits.
“If you go there, the motor bike riding armed bandits, would quickly surround you and demand for money or your means of transportation which is usually motorbike. That is if you are lucky, because sometimes, they would just shoot you and then ride off,” he added.
Alhaji Yusuf Dansadau, who used to harvest more than 200 bags of sorghum from his farm, explained how bandits drove over 500 of their cows to graze on his sorghum farm despite numerous attempts to stop them.
“My sorghum farm was due for harvest when they arrived. They did not even talk to me, they herded their cows into the farm to graze on it. They destroyed the farm. I was only able to harvest 33 bags instead of 200. As I’m talking to you now, I have abandoned that farm, this is because similar fate still awaits me if I invest into that farm again,” he said.
Another farmer in Dansadau identified as Sani, corroborated the story. He said the bandits struck when he and some of his brothers were working on the farm.
“We were threshing the sorghum and were about to start bagging it when they came. They warned us to leave the farm for them. I pleaded with them to let us give them the chaff since we have finished winnowing the grains, but they insisted in feeding on the grain.
“We had to leave everything for them for fear of our dear lives. At times, if they invade a farm during the rainy season, they used to come along with machetes and cutlasses which they used to cut down the plantations even if it is not at the ripe stage for their animals to feed on. They do so to maize and sorghum farms,” he claimed.
Some of the farmers said the bandits sounded a very strong warning to the farming communities to stay away from the farms this year or face dire consequences.
The bandits, according to the residents issued the warning anonymously and some of the traditional rulers had got copies.
When Daily Trust reporter was going to Dansadau town, which is about 100 kilometres from Gusau, the state capital, he saw dozens of hectares of farmland yet to be cleared and prepared for this year’s farming season.
The commanding officer of the 223 Light Tank Battalion in Gusau, Lieutenant Colonel Adamu Aliyu Abdullahi, whose men are jointly carrying out operation ‘Share Daji’ to clear the bandits, confirmed the receipt of such warning letters.
“Yes, the state, and local and traditional authorities all informed me of that development and even sent copies of some of these letters by the bandits, warning the residents of Maru Local Government particularly to stay away from their farmlands. But, to us that is unacceptable and with support of state government and the good people of Zamfara State we will clamp down on them and stop them from carrying out their nefarious mission,’’ he said.
Read more at http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/news/agriculture/keep-away-from-farms-bandits-write-zamfara-farmers/146411.html#Uj86tIzuoQYeQLek.99s