Many communities in Kaduna State have stockpiled weapons due to constant attacks by bandits and terrorists who invade, kill and abduct citizens for ransom.
From Birnin Gwari to parts of Giwa, Igabi, Chikun and Zaria LGAs in Kaduna, Daily Trust gathered that communities have in the last three years formed security groups that patrolled their borders at night and at times engaged bandits in gun fights.
Community leaders and residents in some of these areas confided in Daily Trust that they resorted to self-help after the federal government failed in its responsibility to protect them, leaving them at the mercy of bandits and terrorists.
They claimed that their new strategy has helped in warding off attacks on their communities.
“There are no security agents in most communities that have been over-run by bandits and where there are security agents, they are reluctant to engage the bandits because the bandits are better armed.
“So you find that the bandits attack and abduct residents without any deterrence from security agents,” said a community leader in Kaduna who sought to remain anonymous.
A resident of Nariya community in Igabi Local Government Area of the state, who simply identified himself as Abdul, said when bandits attempted to invade their community a few weeks ago, they met armed youths who forced them to retreat.
According to him, “there was no report of casualties from both sides but since the incident, the area has been peaceful.
“ So it is no longer news that some of our people have armed themselves as a means of self-protection. Since the security cannot protect the people, you cannot blame residents for arming themselves,” he said.
A member of the Civilian JTF from Gonin Gora in Chikun LGA said residents have been arming themselves against bandits in the last few years.
He also explained that just last week, bandits had tried to invade Agwa community, close to Gonin Gora but were repelled by some residents who were armed.
“The residents engaged them in a gun fight and the bandits retreated. The bandits then moved to a community close to Lagari and abducted four people.
“The truth is people have no choice but to arm themselves against the bandits. I personally will get a licensed gun. I will apply because we just have to protect ourselves,” he said.
“The bandits do not want to die and so each time they hear gunshots from the communities, they retreat,” he further said.
Another resident of Gonin Gora told our correspondent that though their weapons are not as sophisticated as those of the bandits, they were still good enough to pose some challenge to their attackers.
He said some volunteers in their communities had formed a group together with members of the vigilante to patrol and defend their communities at night.
“We are also in touch with other communities that are doing the same and we share intelligence. We also contribute some token to encourage members of the security group that are making these sacrifices in our communities,” he said.
He urged the federal government to support the strategy employed by the Zamfara State government but advised government to mobilise and register those who will be armed to give the strategy a form of structure that is recognised and monitored.