Residents of five villages in the Gusau Local Government Area of Zamfara State are currently living in fear as bandits have written to them to demand N7m from each of them within a week.
The affected villages are Banfara-Babba, Gidan Doraiyi, Banfara-Karama, Zamfarawa and Unguwar-Tofa.
An indigene of Unguwar-Tofa, Mallam Sani Mohammed, told our correspondent on the telephone that the bandits sent letters to the respective leaders of the affected communities last Wednesday.
Mohammed said the bandits gave a one-week ultimatum for the money to be paid or they would destroy the villages.
He stated, “They wrote the letters in Hausa language and directed each of the villages to hasten the collection of N7m from members of the communities and forward the amount to them within a week.
“We have already started collecting the money from members of the communities and we hope to meet up with their demand before the expiration of the ultimatum, because we know that they will come and attack us if we fail to produce the money.”
Mohammed lamented that due to the absence of security personnel in the area, the bandits had been subjecting the villagers to a nightmarish experience.
He added that even if the money was paid now, the bandits would still return to demand more.
“They will still come back one day to look for more money if they exhaust the ones we are going to give them now,” he stated.
When asked if the villagers had informed security agencies about their predicament, Mohammed said, “We complained to them times without number, but nothing has been done for us yet.”
He noted that many residents had fled to other areas as “the bandits will not allow people to go way.”
When contacted, the spokesman of the state police command, SP Mohammed Shehu, said, “We have already deployed additional security personnel in the affected villages.
“We are calling on the people of the state to continue giving security personnel necessary information that will lead to the success of the fight against banditry.”
Meanwhile, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Wednesday, condoled with the people of Zamfara State on what he called the “extremely unfortunate” mass killing of innocent people by retreating bandits.
This is according to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled, ‘President Buhari’s delegation in Gusau, offers condolences on the extremely unfortunate Zamfara mass killings’.
The delegation led by the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retd.), described the recent incident as “a very sad one for the nation.”
Buhari reiterated his commitment to tackling the monster of terrorism head-on, assuring those affected that the besieged communities and other Nigerians would not be abandoned to their fate.
In his message to the state governor, commissioners, Emirs, the Chief Judge and Grand Khadi, legislators, council chairmen and political leaders, the President expressed the determination of his regime to get rid of the bandits, who had been classified as terrorists. (Punch)