Bandits affiliated to Boko Haram insurgents are terrorising residents of Niger State, despite pocketing more than N20 million to maintain a ceasefire.
In April, about 65 communities signed a peace deal with the terror groups to avoid future raids. Villages in Gurmana, Manta, Bassa and Kukoki districts in Shiroro area of Niger negotiated with the terrorists after reaching an agreement to pay certain amounts of money. The helpless citizens also bought the terrorists at least six Honda motorcycles worth N500,000 to pacify them.
Before then, the terrorists had displaced over 5,000 villagers from their ancestral homes in Shiroro and Munya local councils.
FIJ understands that bandits in Shiroro have a strong affiliation with the northeast’s Boko Haram terrorists.
Abubakar Bello, the Governor of the state, had pronounced the hoisting of the Boko Haram flag in Shiroro town, admitting that the terror group had taken over many communities.
About 42 communities in Niger have fallen under the control of Boko Haram, according to Mohammed Sani Musa, the senator representing Niger East in the National Assembly.
“I can authoritatively confirm that the Boko Haram terrorists have mounted their flags in many of the villages they have captured such as Kaure, Alawa and Magami,” Musa said while speaking on the floor of the Senate.
THE TEMPORARY PEACE
In May, peace returned to communities in Shiroro and Muniya areas, as residents heaved a sigh of relief after negotiating with the terrorists.
Justifying why they had to negotiate with the armed groups, many of the residents, who are mostly farmers, told FIJ they were left with no other choice.
“There has been no major attack since they signed for a ceasefire with the terrorists,” Sani had told FIJ in May. “Residents are currently reuniting in the communities; they are now coming back from IDP camps.”
Sani had projected that the peace deal was not a lasting solution to the problem.
“Those guys are not to be trusted; they can come at any time to make fresh demands,” he said.
‘HOW CAN YOU SIGN A PEACE DEAL WITH CRIMINAL?’
In many communities where the peace deal was signed, the terrorists often come at night to rape their wives and children. This happens almost every day in communities like Bassa and Kurebe.
“You’ll see terrorists moving around with their rifles in broad daylight,” said Yusuf Allawa, a youth leader in Lakma axis of Shiroro. “It’s now a lawless area because there is no law. The terrorists decide what happens in those areas. And the fear is that if this continues, some of our children will join them.”
Allawa noted that many times, newly recruited terrorists are the ones breaching the peace agreement. Sometimes, he said, it takes some of the community leaders to report to terrorist leaders before they stop them from doing certain things.
“Three days ago, in Bassa, three women were taken to the bush. They were released after the terrorists gang-raped them.
“How can you sign a peace deal with criminals? They are not respecting the peace pact.”
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