Niger State communities negotiate with bandits
Many families in Geidam town of Yobe State have received N20, 000 each from Boko Haram fighters loyal to the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), Daily Trust reports.
Experts with knowledge of how the factional group operates said the unprecedented move was to entice the residents to join the group or see them in good light.
The outlawed group had taken over Geidam since Friday, April 23 and used some families as "human shield", making it difficult for the Nigerian Air Force fighter jets to tackle the invaders and for the ground troops to recover the town.
Sources said while security forces had succeeded in getting into the town on Monday, three days after the invasion, it was learnt that the fighters of the outlawed group were still in the town up till yesterday.
Many families have moved to Damaturu, the state capital, while others have joined their extended families and acquaintances in Dapchi, Babban Gida, Gashua and other towns.
Abba, a resident of Geidam, said: "Some people are still living in Geidam and have received the N20, 000 from Boko Haram as Ramadan gift.
"Some families willingly collected the money while others collected it out of fear... They don't want to be flogged or killed if they reject it," he said.
A woman, who doesn't want her name mentioned, said the terrorists were also preaching to the people.
"It is a dangerous dimension for now because they would end up recruiting our children. Government should confront them," she said.
Security expert Salihu Bakhari said: "treating people well is one of the membership drive strategy of ISWAP in contrast to what Abubakar Shekau does.
"The federal forces must not allow the terrorists to remain in Geidam, they should flush them out so that we would not have a repeat of what is happening in the Lake Chad region. More than 70 per cent of the residents have vacated their houses which is good. However, those remaining in the town could be influenced by the terrorists who have started enforcing some of their so-called laws including leading them in prayers," he said.
Meanwhile, communities ravaged by bandits in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State have negotiated with terrorists for a ceasefire.
This follows an agreement entered into by the people of the communities with the terrorists who have been attacking their villages.
However, Daily Trust has not been able to verify the information making the rounds about payment of tax and VAT to terrorists in the affected communities.
According to sources from the local government, the people started the negotiation with the terrorists, who have been attacking them, so as to have peace in the area.
A police source, who does not want to be mentioned, said they got information that the terrorists asked villagers to pay tax to them.
Co-convener, Concerned Shiroro Youths, Sani Abubakar Yusuf Kokki, said all communities and villages in Gurmana and Manta district of Shiroro Local Government have negotiated with the bandits.
"Virtually all communities and villages in Gurmana and Manta districts of Shiroro Local Government, Niger State have negotiated with terrorists for a ceasefire after reaching an agreement to a certain amount of money among other conditions including purchasing of Honda Motorcycles for them."
Daily Trust gathered that some villages pay as much as N2 million in addition to other demands of the group.
Some residents of the area, who lamented their plight in the hands of the terrorists, said they prefer paying their revenue to them if they would let them have peace rather than pay to a government that does not care about their security and welfare.
Niger State Police Command's Public Relations Officer, DSP Wasiu Abiodun, could not be reached for confirmation as of the time of filing this report and his mobile telephone was switched off.