Rural communities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are in panic following reports that fleeing bandits are setting up camps in the territory’s forests.
According to locals, the bandits have set up camps around Zukpatu, Gadoro, Achimbi, Pesu, Duda, Pani, Gaube and New Gwombe communities in Kuje Area Area Council.
Most of the communities are bordered by Nasarawa State.
The bandits are also taking advantage of the rocky hinterlands to establish bases.
The villagers who spoke with our reporter said the bandits have not attacked them yet, but they have warned them against exposing their hideouts to security agents.
Ibrahim, a resident of Gaube who simply identified himself as Ibrahim, said that the bandits’ setting up their camps in the area had caused panic, adding that residents, particularly farmers, now fear going to their farms.
“Whenever the bandits come across locals in farms or streams, they caution us not to report their locations to the security agents.” said Ibrahim.
Further, he mentioned that bandits sometimes bought items from residents with the money they got from the bandits.
According to a rescued kidnap victim, who preferred anonymity, the bandits set up camps at the base of rocks in the Pegi axis of Kuje.
“The government needs to act quickly before the situation spirals out of control,” he said. “I wonder how these criminals got to these places with arms.”
Alhassan, a resident of Gwombe, said bandits had seized the forest around the community.
Since they attacked and kidnapped some people in our village early this year, Alhassan said, “I think they won’t attack our people again, except that they send our people they come across on errands and warn them not to disclose their hiding place.”
According to a traditional ruler, who preferred anonymity, the setting up of camps by bandits in some forests in rural communities poses serious threats to lives and property.
He recalled how bandits attacked commuters and villagers on the Gaube-Kuje road last year, which led to the organization of a joint task force around the community.
According to him, the task force has left the area and kidnappers have returned to pick up people near the Gaube axis.
Hunters and farmers usually come across bandits but are afraid to expose them, said the chief.
Therefore, he urged the federal government to take immediate action while collaborating with traditional rulers to combat insecurity in the area.
The spokesperson for the FCT Police Command, DSP Adeh Josephine, asked our reporter to give her time to make inquiries about the development.