By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
As banditry which involves killings, kidnapping and rustling of livestock among others seem to surge in Zuru Emirate, Kebbi State, in the past three months, several camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) have sprung up, our findings showed.
But on Tuesday, after weeks of hunger and living under undignified conditions, thousands of the IDPs were seen streaming back home even when there was no guarantee to their safety and well-being back home, our reporter who went to Sakaba Local Government Area (LGA) in Zuru Emirate reported.
Sakaba LGA’s 1,260kmsq, land area shares border with part of Niger State where bandits are believed to be in collaboration with Boko Haram and have acquired a large territory there.
On Tuesday, the IDPs were seen lined up with their belongings by the road sides waiting for vehicles. Some were seen trekking back with loads of goods on their heads.
“I will rather return with my family and die like a man than allow starvation to kill us here like unwanted animals,” said Abubakar Galadima, 45, an IDP at a dilapidated government building besides Sakaba LGA Secretariat at Diri Daji, in Zuru Emirate.
Galadima, who hails from Dankolo village, has been there for three weeks with his three wives and 24 children.
“The first and only time they brought raw food here was some two weeks ago and it caused a lot of fight here,” said the lean and weary looking man.
“Since then we have literally been starving with all these children crying for food all the time,” he said.
Galadima’s village was attacked at least three times in the past one month. Though no one was killed, all the cattle in his community were rustled.
“As you can see, we have already packed our load and we are just waiting for a truck to come and take us back home,” he said
Scores of women and their children were seen with their goods arranged and ready to leave.
The situation was the same in all the IDP camps visited.
Heavily pregnant Jamimah Benjamin, 34, gave birth two weeks ago under trauma at the United Missionary African Church (UMCA), Diri Daji.
She had managed to escape from her Talata village in Sakaba Ward and walked for five hours through thorny shrubs and bushes with her two little kids to the tarred road in Jan Birni, the next settlement with a good road linking other towns. It was from there that they were helped to complete the 17km journey to Diri Daji by a kind motorist..
“I gave birth at the gate of the church when I arrived here that day. That was two weeks ago. We named the child Joshua,” she said.
“But my people and I are ready to return home now. We are dying of starvation here,” she said.
“This is not the first time we are returning,” she pointed out.
“Two days after I gave birth here, we could not bear the condition so we returned,” she said.
With little Joshua just two days old and back to Talata village, heavy shooting was heard from across the next village. It was a cue that the Bandits would enter their village after finishing with their neighbours. The men of Talata Community quickly gathered their wives and children and guarded them to a thicket in the swamp by the bank of a river that flows through the village, Jamimah and her two day’s old infant, his 7 and 5 years brothers among.
“The place was infested by snakes. One crawled over to my sister’s back, but did not bite her, The grass was itchy and it was very uncomfortable,” she told our reporter.
“The children were crying but we muffled their mouths. The shooting started from 9am in the morning until 4pm in the afternoon,” she said.
After that experience, their men again ensured they returned to Diri Daji.
But now, they are set to leave for Talata village.
“They are always welcomed here,” said Rev Dauda Sule who oversees the Church.
“At the peak of the violence, they were about a thousand IDPs here. But most of them have returned home or have found better places to go.
“Yes there is problem with food. The church cannot do much,” he said,” and the elected representatives are not doing anything to assist,” he added.
“The other time that the Chairman of Sakaba LGA (Hon Lawal Dan Hausa) came here, he only brought sachets of ‘pure’ water. That’s all!” he said.
It is estimated that there may be about 10,000 IDPs from the displaced Community scattered to many parts of the LGA that are considered safe for now.
The IDPs come from the following communities in Sakaba LGA in Zuru Emirate: Tunga Kadai, Bazama, Mai Komo, Kaiwa kasa, Yakila and Robin.
Others are: Kukumo, Makeri, Lani, Tikawa, Madi, Katuntu, Unguwan Zama and Kudanhu.
Findings show that between the 13th and 29th April, bandits killed the following at Sakaba town: Tanko Audu, 40; Auta Gurgu,70; the daughter of Tashi Kataba who was backing her son and Bala Mai Saska, 75.
Villagers said that an estimated 1,000 cows and 500 sheep were rustled by the bandits for the same period.
All attempts to speak with Chairman of Sakaba LGA, Hon. Lawal Dan Hausa was not possible as his phone number was not connecting.