Residents of the Tangaza Local Government Area of Sokoto State have raised the alarm over the activities of some suspected bandits who allegedly demand levies from people, Punch reports
But the state police command has debunked the claim, urging people to go about their lawful business without panic.
The bandits were said to be ex-members of a vigilance group who had once been of assistance to the community and its environs in checking activities of kidnappers.
It was learnt that the group went round the community with weapons applying strange laws and punishing defaulters.
“The bandits are members of the vigilance group that had helped us to flush out kidnappers from their base in Balle forest, in the Gudu Local Government Area of the state,” a source, who preferred anonymity, said.
The source added that the group had started recruiting youths and training them in criminal activities.
Another source in Tangaza, who spoke to our correspondent on the phone confirmed that the group exists, stating that, “residents are afraid to challenge the bandits or reveal their identities for fear of being attacked.”
“They initially came to our rescue against kidnappers only to turn against us by forcefully collecting levies on our sheep and cows. Most worrisome is their forceful recruitment of our youths and teaching them different religious doctrines.
“They are operating freely, scaring residents, without being challenged. They are going from one community to another.”
But the Sokoto State Police Command dismissed any possible threat to the peace of the state.
The command’s Public Relations Officer, DSP Cordelia Nwawe, advised the people to go about their lawful business and desist from causing panic.
She said state Commissioner of Police, Murtala Mani, and the DCP in charge of Operations, Baba Isa, went to Tangaza on Friday to assess the situation.
She said, “There is nothing like bandits and there is no need for people to be scared. The CP and his deputy in charge of operations went and saved the situation. There is no need for people to be apprehensive because whatever happened to Niger Republic has nothing to do with Nigeria. Those people are not operating in Nigeria but in Niger Republic. Tangaza is a boundary community. Even though people alleged that they saw strange people in the area with camels, donkeys and wives, it is not in Nigeria.”