Laleye Dipo in Minna
The leadership of 19 communities in five local government areas of Niger State which were ravaged last year by insecurity has pleaded with the federal government to retain the soldiers posted to the areas to restore peace.
The plan by the military high command was to withdraw the soldiers from the areas from today.
The soldiers were posted to Zagzaga, Allawa, Sarkin Pawa, Ishau,Adunu, Kaffinkoro among others in the Rafi, Paikoro, Muyan, Shiroro and Gurara Local Government Areas to dislodge criminals that had turned the areas to their abode where they also wreaked havoc on members of the communities.
The communities feared that withdrawing the soldiers from their areas would amount to their returning to the dark days when kidnapping, cattle rustling and banditry were daily occurrences.
Spokesmen of the communities, Alhaji Abdulazeez Zagzaga and Mr. Daniel Glory, said their areas had known peace since the soldiers were deployed there last January, adding that many villagers who had run away were now returning to commence normal life and businesses.
â€œPeople are already preparing their farmlands for this yearâ€™s farming season, so if the soldiers leave, the criminals lurking in the bushes will return to begin their illegal act,â€ they said.
Both Zagzaga and Glory said the communities had no problem with the soldiers since they were posted to the areas, adding that â€œcivilian/military relationship has been very cordial, no harassment or molestation.â€
They said even now that the soldiers were still on ground, six criminals fleeing from the ongoing operation in Zamfara State were apprehended between last Monday and Tuesday with two AK47 rifles in Zagzaga wondering what would happen if the security men were withdrawn.
They were of the opinion that the state government would provide the logistics that would make the retention of the soldiers in their areas peaceful.
Going down memory lane, the spokesmen said between August and December 2017, 40 villagers were killed by Fulani herdsmen, 10 others kidnapped while a total ransom of N20million was paid for the release of kidnapped victims.