Suspected terrorist groups wielding sophisticated weapons are terrorising residents of communities around the newly discovered oil field in the Alkaleri Local Government of Bauchi State.
Local authorities told PREMIUM TIMES that at least 10 people were killed, and residents are being kidnapped daily as others flee villages in the area in droves due to fear for their safety.
Sa’adu Jibrin, a councillor for Maimadi ward – one of the terrorised communities told our reporter that the gunmen are carrying out attacks in the area unchallenged.
“The kidnapping for ransom is now rampant. In less than 20 days about 30 people were kidnapped, and the least ransom paid was N2 million. They killed at least ten people within a few weeks.
“The area is now blessed with oil which will attract more people for investment, but that can only happen if the place is secure. The gunmen went to the oil drilling site and kidnapped a household leader whose residence is less than a kilometre from where President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the oil drilling. The kidnap happened after the president’s visit. Two people were kidnapped in the very location.
“At Mai -Arin Kudu community, they killed one person and kidnapped his wife. At Zadawa, they killed a youth leader, we just returned from Gombe, and they fired at him up to seven times, after killing him, they went away with his mother and elder sister. In Mai-Arin Aware community, they killed a father and went away with their son. In the Garfatu community, they killed a vigilante leader and kidnapped his daughter,” he said.
“Residents are fleeing daily for safety. The complaints we do receive from the locals are their concerns about how to address the situation. Many have attributed the upsurge in the attacks to the newly discovered oil in the areas but that might not be so,” Mr Jibrin said.
He said the Alkaleri Local Government shares a boundary with Yankari Game Reserve, perhaps Nigeria’s most popular game reserve. He said the gunmen have hideouts in the forest.
“The gunmen are strangers in the area, they are using local informants in our communities to carry out the kidnap activities, he added.
The area has three districts which consist of Pali, Gwana, and Duguri each with district heads under the Alkaleri local government area.
The oil field is located in the Pali district. Residents of the area are fleeing to Alkaleri town, the local council headquarters, and others are fleeing to Misau local government area and neighbouring Gombe State.
At least over a thousand households have fled the districts for fear of being attacked by the gunmen said a traditional leader who asked not to be named for safety reasons.
He identified the affected communities in Pali district as Jada, Mai Arin-Kudu, Dani, Kufa, Bubu, Papa, Kuturun Kuka, Tudun Wadan Jada, Zadawa and Bambu.
He said other towns are Gachiri, Maimadi, Shugu, Garfatu, Mai Arin-Arewa, Dakai, Maso Kano, Kwanan Kuka, Yola, and Bakin Ruwa.
In the Gwana district, the traditional leader identified some of the affected communities as Mansur, Baladde, Magasa, Gurabayi, Diji Bunga, Gwanan Dutse, Sabon gari, Garin, Bagobiri, Garin Bano, Jamari, Garin Juba.
He said others are Kwal Kwal, Sankali, Alkali Sule, Kargo, Digare, Gobirawa and Yalo.
Meanwhile, the traditional leader lamented that residents fleeing for safety are being exploited by the security agencies manning checkpoints.
He said residents fleeing to neighbouring Gombe State pass through at least ten security checkpoints, in Futuk town alone, he said there are three checkpoints and the least people are paying is N10,000 per vehicle.