Farmers in Niger State have reportedly fled their farmlands to take on other ventures for fear of being victims of abductions and killings ravaging the state.
This is despite the entreaties by the state government for them to return to their communities and farmlands and continue with food production to prevent food shortages and famine.
The farmers have rejected these advances as they are afraid they could be killed in large numbers by the rampaging bandits and cattle rustlers.
This is with the way they have boldly been going about stealing, destroying and killing without a serious clampdown by the security agencies, The Nation reports.
Many of the farmers, who relocated to Minna, said they prefer to start small-scale subsistence farming and make a living rather than return to their communities which have been taken over by bandits.
However, some of the farmers said they were pained to have been relocated from their ancestral homes leaving their farmlands fallow for many months.
Abdullahi Garba Kuta said he had to relocate to Minna, the state capital for safety reasons after series of unwarranted attacks by bandits.
He said, “I am from Erena but my wife and two children have been killed by bandits who invaded our village last year.
“It is also unfortunate that my barn with foodstuffs and seedlings have been ransacked and set ablaze after the brutal killing of my wife and children and many others in the community.
“Even if I want to go back to my village, there is no place to go and nothing to fall back on to start a new life. That is why I am forced to stay back around Minna to farm on the little land space allocated to me by friends,” Kuta said.
Another displaced farmer from Allawa in Shiroro Local Government Area of the state, Baba Audu, said even if he is assured of safety by the government, he would not be convinced to return home until the security situation improves further.
He noted that he enjoyed a great harvest the previous year but the bandits' attack on the community cost him everything except his life.
“I have large farms with different crops like yam, Maize, millet and others. I had a bumper harvest last year but the invasion of the community by bandits caused us to lose everything including foodstuffs, domestic animals, houses, barns and valuables.
“These enemies of progress set our homes and barns on fire after carting every valuable away. Life is more precious to me than farming and it is only the living who can produce food and embark on other activities,” he said.
A youth leader, who is also Shiroro Youth Convener, Comrade Jibrin Allawa, said there was no security in the area to warrant anyone returning to farm there.
According to him, only three out of the eight wards in the area have any form of security presence, adding that they were all living in fear as bandits continually unleash terror on the people.