Bandits have killed no fewer than four farmers and abducted over 100 others including women and children from 14 communities in Mashegu and Rafi local government areas of Niger State in the last three weeks.
Daily Trust gathered that more than half of the victims were kidnapped while harvesting maize, beans, guinea corn and soya beans on their farms.
Those killed were a traditional ruler, two vigilantes and one other person during an invasion in Mashegu Local Government.
Sources said the communities attacked in Mashegu included Sabon-Rijiya, Tsohon-Rami, Bakwai-Bakwai, Mulo, Kawo-Mulo, Nasarawa-Mulo, Mai-Azara, Foje, Mutun-Daya, Beji, Gidan-Malam, Bokuta, Chetaku and Gbazhi, forcing residents to flee to Ibbi town and other safer places in the local government.
In Rafi and part of Shiroro local governments, 61 farmers were reportedly kidnapped in Gidigori, Pandogari and Durumi communities in the last two weeks.
Residents said while bandits had also imposed N3 million tax on each of the communities as a condition to stop kidnapping them and to allow them to harvest their farm produce, only one of the communities had been able to pay. The bandits are said to be also stealing food they already harvested.
Residents who spoke with Daily Trust said rural communities in Mashegu, Mariga, Kontagora, Rafi and Shiroro were still not as safe as widely publicised in some sections of the media.
One of them, Mohammed Sanusi, told our correspondent that one of the vigilantes he simply identified as Abubakar was shot dead after he was abducted alongside other villagers on Thursday when bandits attacked Mulo and adjoining communities during which the village head of Mulo, Alhaji Usman Garba, was also killed.