By; FUNMI ADERINTO
Buruku is a farming community in Kaduna State. The people are famous for being very hospitable and accommodating. Living some five kilometres from the Kaduna metropolis, it is a community of farmers, herders, miners and traders, mainly in farm produce.
They have been enduring the bruises occasionally inflicted on them by cattle rustlers in the past years, but the intensity of the attacks on roads by a particular portion called (Corner Bolar, Corner Ruwa, Corner Wakee) and forestry before getting to Buruku. In spite of the fact that the criminals steal cattle, farm produce, and abduct women, the authorities seem to have no clue on how to deal with the situation.
This has led to an outcry by these patient people travelling along the road.
Early this month, an event that could be considered as an irony occurred after Buruku, five minutes drive to airport roundabout, the journey from Oyo State was smooth, not until getting to the nose of the house around 7pm, when suspected Fulani bandits, started shooting three of the 18-seater buses coming from the west, which made the three buses to stop.
When the shooting started, the passengers were running into unknown forests, myself and my children, I looked around and said to myself, were will I run to with these children. We were asked to lie down on the high way while we were robbed of our valuables for two hours.
The Fulani, were armed with modern rifles, otherwise known as AK-47, which they used in carrying out their operations. They have
been terrorizing the spot for a long time and have effectively taken control of parts of Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State, Faskari in Katsina State, Tsafe in Zamfara State and Pandogari in Niger State. Villagers who consider these communities as their ancestral home have either been sacked or have vacated them, having come under constant attacks. Those who cannot escape are languishing and living in the shadows of the attack under perennial fears.
The bandits are believed to have a base in a forest close to the villages, this forest is wide and connects four states; Niger, Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara.
Speaking with Musa Inuwa, the chairman, National Union of Roads Transport Workers, (NURTW) Mando, Kaduna, he said robberies on the road between Kaduna-Buruku and Birnin Gwari is on daily basis. During the first robbery on that faithful day in (Corner Bola) along Buruku, the bandits were said to have blocked the road with big stones and robbed people who were returning to Kaduna from Birnin Gwari around seven
o’clock in the morning. Two passengers who occupied a vehicle driving towards on the highway were smashed to death by a trailer, were saisd to have died on the spot.
Same day in the evening, the bandits had blocked the road with logs of wood and heavy stones. Shocked at the unusual roadblock, the first
trailer driver applied his brakes suddenly. The second trailer driver, unaware of the emergency in which the driver ahead of him was facing, could not help but rammed into him, leaving both seriously damaged. Unknown to us the bandits used that to cover up, immediately the driver overtook the trailers, we fell into their hands and there was no way of escape.
All they could ask is ‘bamu kudi ko mu kashe ku’ which roughly translates to ‘give us money or we kill you’. All luggages were being searched one after the other, while we are laying down flat on the high way. I noticed that the bandits were comfortable in searching, there was no fear of being countered by the police or the military. No vehicles coming or going.
After the operation between 7 to 9pm, we all packed our luggages into the bus not minding who own this or that, until we started moving, we met many vehicles waiting by airport roundabout.
Most of the people in the area told us, they usually go into the surrounding villages, brandishing their AK-47 rifles to buy tea, noodles, and other items which they need. During the operations, they demonstrated their courage and effrontery; the bandits did not cover their faces with masks.
The District Head of Unguwan Mashi, in Chikun Local Government Area, Malam Jatau Luka, said that the bandits rely on their informants who reside in the midst of the people.
Jatau added that he was still appealing to the federal and state governments to come to their aid in restoring peace in the areas.
According to him: “We live in fear of the bandits who have now devised a dastardly act of abducting women after robbing the people along highways, bush camps, villages to the bush or even in their hideouts.
As a result of the attacks, women no longer trek comfortably along the highway for fear of being abducted or raped. Both the highway leading from Kaduna through Birnin Gwari to Pando Gari in Niger State are usually deserted now, except for few unsuspecting travelers, who could be found occasionally riding in commercial or private vehicles.
“Many farmers are leaving the area for fear of the now invading cattle and highway robbers. The bandits rob anything from livestock, money, GSM handsets, bread, sachet water and anything of monetary value, from villagers, drivers and travelers. The bandits could mobilize and form a gang of about 50 men and rob a town from midnight till dawn,” he explained.
A lone vigilante, Abba Musa, known as Baban Khalifa said he was always moving from Mashi to forestry after Airport along Buruku Road for hunting on daily basis. However, he did not receive any remuneration for his service to the community from government. The 56-year-old man said he would not relent in the work, in spite of the fact that his efforts were not being rewarded.
Our reporter sought the account of the police in Kaduna through the Police Public Relations Officer (PPPRO), Malam Aliyu Usman, but he was not available for comments.
However, a top police officer in the state told New Nigeria Newspaper’s Online, that the police are trying their best in patrolling the high way to stop the attackers, but the challenge they are facing is the informants that leak information about the police movement.