An expanse plot of land belonging to the Nigerian Army in Kontagora Local Government Area of Niger is harbouring armed bandits terrorizing the state, PRNigeria reports.
The Nigerian Army is mapping out new ways to curb the activities in the area and in neighbouring communities.
The bandits have established camps at Matan Kari, Fagai, Ozowo, Bihima and Kan Libo, among other mountains inside the Army land.
9News Nigeria gathered that the camps are mountainous areas, within the massive hectare, where gangs first gather their abducted victims, before moving them to Kaduna, Zamfara and the other Northern States, via forests.
They are also being used by bandits operating within the axis to congregate herds of rustled cattle, before ferrying them beyond the State’s borders.
The ‘flat and levelled surfaces’ on top of the mountains, according to an undercover security officer and some locals, is where a yet-to-be-identified private helicopter often ‘touches down’.
They could not tell who owns the helicopter, nor the mission it regularly undertakes to the bandits’ hideouts.
They said whenever the white choppers hovers communities within Kontagora and Mariga axis, bandits’ attack follows.
A team of policemen and local vigilantes embarked on daring missions to the notorious camps of the bandits, on three separate occasions last year.
The huge army land, which starts from the military Barrack in Kontagora town, extends over to Mai Guge community, in Mariga local government.
Apart from the Barrack, the Nigerian Army Corps of Artillery (NACA) and the Nigerian Army Training Centre (NATRAC) are the two other military institutions located in Kongatora LG.
Though the expansive army land is yet to be fenced, a deep pit apparently for a foundation has been dug, right after the Barrack gate, before entering Kontagora metropolis.
The foundation pit, covering over forty kilometres, extends to Mai Gegu. The Army placed signs beside the Kontagora-Mariga road indicating ownership.
The inscription on the signage reads: “Nigerian Army Training Area Kontagora Army Land Keep Off/Ba Shiga”.
PRNigeria learnt that the Kambaris were the original owners of the land. But they sold it to the army, over 30 years ago.
And while the Army is yet to start training its personnel, bandits have found ‘haven’ in the fallow land, using it to carry out their terror-inducing crime.
An intelligence officer explained that the ‘unfenced and porous’ Army land is the reason bandits have been having a field day invading communities in Northern States.
The source added that the bandits’ camps also served as escape routes for the criminals when other security personnel were mobilized for counter and rescue operations.
According to him, when bandits attack communities surrounding Kontagora town, they flee with their victims and rustle cattle to their camps inside the Army land.
He said his security agency, on several occasions, informed the military authorities that their domain is used by bandits for cover.
“They refused to cooperate. They tell us the people our intelligence reports indicate are bandits, are actually not.
“The military authorities deployed a battalion of Special Forces troops. Before they will be moved into Kontagora, we learnt they were first briefed in Minna.
“The Commanders of the troops were told to first meet with the Police when they arrive at Kontagora, to strategize on how to storm the bandits’ hideout. They ignored us and ‘callously’ stormed the notorious camps of the bandits.
“At the end of the day, about seven or eight of the special forces soldiers were killed, after their convoy was ambushed by the bandits,” he lamented.
The source said after the incident, the military realized the intensity of banditry within Kontagora axis.
The Dagachin Fagai in Kontagora appealed to the government to come to the aid of their long-suffering people.
A top military officer confirmed the Nigerian Army has deployed extra troops to Niger to protect the citizens.
The officer assured that the situation at the barracks’s vast land and communities worst hit by banditry is being looked into for prompt actions.