Residents of banditry-infested communities in Kusherki District of Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State have proposed a peace pact with the bandits.
The community leader of Kusherki, Alhaji Garba Kusherki, told our correspondent that a delegation had already been sent to interface with the bandits.
He also revealed that the bandits had demanded N2m to buy kola nuts that would be shared among their colleagues and friends to know that a peace pact had been signed with the victim communities, promising a return of peace if the conditions they gave were complied with.
Kusherki said, “As God would have it, on Thursday, the bandits called us to tell us that they wanted a peace pact sealed. So we sent a delegation that went to meet with them in the forest very close to Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State. Our delegation was asked to stay at Maganda and they came to pick them up.
“In the end, they told us that we are the cause of the fight between them (bandits) and our communities. They said each time locals see them with cattle crossing their communities, they lay ambush and start attacking them. That after all the rustled cattle don’t belong to the locals and hence they did not see any reason why they should be attacked. So, they said they decided to get revenge.”
He further said, “Most of the people they kill are men. They have killed more than 30 of our men. After killing the men, they kidnapped our women and children.
“They said after this peace pact, no bandit group will attack our communities again, and that if any group does, they will identify the group and deal decisively with them. But what we have been able to contribute is not up to the amount demanded. So we need support.”Kusherki added that the chief imam of Unguwan-Barmo and 20 others, including 10 women, regained freedom on Tuesday as part of the ongoing peace deal.
HE SAID, “They said if they were interested in money they would have been collecting ransom. They warned us to stop attacking them each time they pass through our communities, but that if we feel we want to fight them, they are ready to continue with the fight for the next 10 years.”
The community leader decried lack of security and humanitarian support from the state and federal governments, saying only the Rafi LGA Chairman, Alhaji Ismaila Modibo, had assisted them.
The Chief of Staff to the chairman, Mohammad Mohammad, said the council was aware of the ongoing peace negotiation between the communities and the bandits.
He said communities in Kusherki District had suffered more attacks because they shared a boundary with Birnin-Gwari in Kaduna State which had served as a passage for bandits over the years.
He further said, “But the chairman advised that we should not interfere in the ongoing negotiation of the peace pact because they will continue to engage other communities and that the local government would not be able to do anything. So, we want them to continue negotiating; when it is time for them to contribute what they are going to pay them, then we would send our support.
“The truth is that the bandits don’t have a single camp in Rafi LGA; all their camps are in Shiroro LGA—in Kukoki, Allawa and Malawe. So they would want a settlement with the people of Rafi so that they would be allowed to cross to the neighbouring local governments of Wushishi, Bosso, among others. But we at the local government have refused to accept that.”