Bandits in the northern region of Nigeria have been hiding in forests in the Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State for a while, FIJ has gathered.
Faskari is the closest LGA to Zamfara State, where most of these kidnap-for-ransom terrorists are heavily domiciled in the northwest until they recently began to migrate to other states like Niger and Kaduna following military raids.
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Many residents of Faskari, mostly farmers, have become victims of abductions as the terrorists made their forests a hideout.
“It has become a huge business that many residents save up so that when their family members are kidnapped, they can quickly recover them by paying ransoms,” Salihu Bamle, a resident of Katsina, told FIJ.
“The issue is not a new thing to the state government and security personnel. They are aware of it, yet the locals are still helpless. Those who can afford to live in the city have moved out of Faskari.
“The government of the LGA is under these bandits and not under any authorities.”
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DESPITE HEAVY MILITARIZATION, KIDNAPPERS STILL EVASIVE IN KATSINA
Sources told FIJ that Faskari is particularly not as volatile as surrounding villages like Ungwar Dudu because two Nigerian Army units, different police checkpoints, personnel’s quarters and formations are in the LGA.
“Once you move one kilometre from Faskari, you’re under a raid,” a resident of a Katsina village said. “That’s because our bush is just about three kilometres from Zamfara.”
“When the kidnappers were operating in Ungwar Dudu around November, we heard gunshots and told the Nigerian Army, but they said they didn’t have orders to go there and attack.”
In the assessment of the villagers, the telecommunication ban in the state did not stop the kidnappers’ activities.
“I swear in the name of Allah, Faskari and neighbouring villages have been attacked over 10 times between last year and January 2022,” the source noted.
Faskari was one of the 13 LGAs where Aminu Masari, the governor of the state, shut down mobile telecommunication in September, as part of efforts to curtail insecurity.
“In our area, when they kidnap three people, they release one and ask them to bring money for the other two,” he continued.
With this strategy, the kidnappers would not need any mobile communication to exchange victims for ransoms.
Villagers who know the terrorists’ hideouts are scared of getting their abducted family members hurt or killed if they engage security personnel.
FIJ tried to seek the comments of Onyema Nwachukwu, the spokesman of the Nigerian Army, but he neither answered his call nor responded to a text message sent to him.
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