Following the kidnap of 40 farmers in Zamfara State, weekend, the National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Arc Kabir Ibrahim, Monday, called on the government to bulldoze forest bandits use as a hideout.
Kabir made the call in a statement signed by himself and made available to Vanguard, where he lamented the unfortunate abduction of 40 farmers from Gobirawan Cali community in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State and said the ugly incident sends the wrong signal to farmers across the country.
According to him if the government bulldoze or defoliate the forest then there will be a success story in combating banditry, but with the forest still standing the bandits relocate from one part of the forest to the other as they are being chased by the military, and continue with their operation in other parts of the forest from where they come out to attack and kidnap innocent farmers.
He said: “The 40 Farmers recently abducted in Zamfara State by gun trotting bandits scares the living daylights out me and all farmers in Nigeria!
“Yet again farmers are being kidnapped from my village, Faskari, Katsina State and some neighboring villages in Zamfara State largely because of the continued hiding places offered to the bandits by forest thickset that we are reluctant to bulldoze!
“It is very sad that banditry and kidnapping are becoming a cankerworm in the food basket of the North West of Nigeria with the farmers bearing the brunt.
“The incessant kidnappings and general insecurity in the North West and other parts of the country portend a serious threat to our food system.
“If this matter exacerbates, the collapse of governance will rear its head and the country will pay a very high price for it.”
“Of course, issues of climate change and other considerations constitute an impediment to this thesis but mitigation of the resultant effects of this action are also implementable.
“The obvious advantage of this defoliation or sectoral removal of these forests is the expansion of our cultivable land and even irrigable land. The issue of peace and security will be assured once these forests give way.
“The Cerrad in Brazil is a clear example of replacing wild forests with deliberate agricultural production and guaranteed food security.”
However, he said AFAN appreciates efforts of the government to stop banditry in the North West and general insecurity but there is a need to take and implement the recommendations they have made to address the unpleasant situation.
“While we appreciate the effort of the government in ensuring security in some of these areas that have become epicenters of banditry and general insecurity there is still the need to revisit some of the advice that we have given in the various fora that we have been privileged to participate in.
“When I participated in the Ministry of Defence committee (MOD)that toured five States comprising Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Katsina and Zamfara in 2019, I discovered that there was no synergy between the various security agencies in securing the trouble areas, the forests constituting safe heavens to the bandits had no real economic value to Nigeria and that the restoration of peace and tranquility in all the affected areas was next to impossible as a result of these risk factors.
“Before this time (MOD committee work) and afterward I wrote propositions about defoliating the forests in Sambisa, Rugu, and other places to finally and definitely rid them of these bandits.
“To effectively stamp out banditry in the North West and North East we must: Defoliate or sectorally bulldoze the forests immediately; Create real synergy between all the agencies fighting insecurity under the NSA; The Governors forum should as a matter of urgency contribute to a pool of resources to ensure security In Nigeria because the bandits tend to relocate to areas of seeming opportunity whenever they are chased out of the woodwork”, he added.