Residents of some communities in Niger have continued to pay levies to terrorists in exchange for protection against attacks on their settlements, authorities in the state have said.
Governor Abubakar Bello, who stated this on Tuesday shortly after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Villa in Abuja, lamented that such payments were not enough to stop the attacks.
Addressing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting with the President, he said the state government has appealed to the residents of the affected communities not to pay any money to the terrorists.
“We still have some communities where ransoms are being collected,” the governor said. “We will try to discourage them (residents) from paying such ransoms because even when they pay ransoms, it doesn’t stop bandits from attacking them again.
“When you pay levies to bandits, they use such money to purchase weapons and they come back to attack you.”
The governor, however, called for the massive recruitment of security personnel and deployment to the state in order to bring the situation under control.
He admitted that there were serious concerns about sustaining the fight against the terrorist group, stressing that informants within the communities constitute a major challenge.
Governor Bello also urged states sharing borders with Niger, including Kebbi and Kaduna to collaborate with his administration to ensure sustainability in the fight against criminals in their domains.
But he is optimistic that with the current level of intervention, temporary respite would come to residents of the affected communities in two weeks.
“This afternoon, I came to visit Mr President to give him an update on the security situation in Niger State with regard to banditry, kidnapping, and cattle rustling among others,” the governor briefed.
“We had a very fruitful discussion. We were able to review some of the invasions in the state. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you all. In the last few days, there have been a lot of activities in Niger State and hopefully, in the next few weeks, we will see some relief with regard to banditry.”