From John Karl, Makurdi

Bandits in Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State have placed a N20m tax on Torough Community.

Care taker chairman, Ukum  local government Victor Iorzaa who confirmed the development in a telephone chat, said a certain militia group known as “Full Force’ is behind the levy.

Our correspondent reported that on Tuesday, member of the community divided the money among themselves and have even commenced payments.

It was also gathered that some members of the community had their livestocks seized by the bandits as the message was being delivered.

A 56 year old man from the community who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity for fear of his life and that of his family members, said they had no option than to comply to the directive by the bandits, maintaining that some of them had to contact their relatives in the cities discreetly to get the money and pay on time.

He said nobody in the village including their village head would dare report the matter to the security so as not to anger the local warlords.

“We are more or less in bondage here. There is no complete freedom of movement, association or expression. This militia boys are very deadly and powerful here in our Sankera axis.

“The whole of three local governments in Sankera including Logo and Katsina-Ala are affected by this madness. These boys have a very strong communication network for their business. They monitor everything.

“So when the news about the N20m came to us nobody dare report to security agencies. You and your family will be eliminated in broad daylight. We are in bondage. The security opperatives too are helpless.

“We are are paying the N50,000 levied each household. Some traditional chiefs that have many households are levied N1m.”

The source regretted that even when they sold their farm produce the militias collect the proceeds.

He said most times after they kill your loved one, they will still tax the family of the deceased to pay for their bullets and pay for burial permission fee before burial.

However, the Benue Police Command denied knowledge of the entire development.

The State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) SP Catherine Anene said if such happened, it was not reported to the command.

Also, Chief Joseph Har, Special Adviser to the governor on Internal Security said bandits are on the run in the State and could not have the luxury of collecting tax from the villagers.

Chief Har said the Gov Hyacinth Alia’s administration was doing everything possible to mitigate activities of bandits, kidnappers, militias amongst others in the State.

“The issue of this illegal levies have become a common practice with bandits everywhere worldwide because they use it to survive. However, only an irresponsible government will fold her hands to allow such callous thing to happen.

“The criminals have been having very tough time of recent and they are really having the heat and can’t have the balls to wait and collect any tax.

“Most of them have fled their camps (you can find out) and we intend to sustain the momentum until we run them down or they surrender. There is reduction in the impunity of these bandits and the basket will get filled again.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *