EXCLUSIVE: Vast Army Land in Kontagora Harbouring Camps of Bandits Terrorizing Niger ….
Concerns Heighten on Alleged White Helicopter Hovering over Communities
A vast plot of land belonging to the Nigerian Army (NA) in Kontagora local government of Niger State is harbouring armed bandits terrorizing several parts of the State, PRNigeria has gathered.
Concerned about the development, the Nigerian Army under the current leadership is devising new measures to tackle the activities of the criminals on its land and in neighbouring communities.
The bandits have established their camps at Matan Kari, Fagai, Ozowo, Bihima and Kan Libo, among other mountains inside the army land. The camps, according to checks by PRNigeria, are mountainous areas, within the massive hectare, where the criminals first gather their abducted victims, before moving them to Kaduna, Zamfara and other Northern States, via forests’ paths. 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, however, could not tell who owns the helicopter, and the mission it regularly undertakes to the bandits’ hideouts. He also told PRNigeria that whenever the white helicopter hovers around communities within Kontagora and Mariga axis, bandits’ attack follows.
It was learnt that a team of policemen and local vigilantes embarked on daring missions to the notorious camps of the bandits, on three separate occasions last year. Images of some items discovered on the mountainous hideouts, which include syringes, cans of soft drinks, spare parts of motor cycles, plugs, among other relics, were sighted by PRNigeria. The huge army land, which starts from the military Barrack in Kontagora town, extends over to Mai Guge community, in Mariga local government. It is almost 40km in length.
Credible sources said not only banditry, and kidnapping, but illegal mining secretly thrives on the land, too. Aside 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, at various points beside the Kontagora-Mariga road, mounted the signage of their land, indicating ownership. It warned trespassers to keep off. 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. There are several instances, where bandits emerge from various points in the army land, some of the displaced villagers told PRNigeria. They then, cross the kontagora-Mariga road to attack Usande, Magauta, Dutsen Magaji, and other sparse communities, on the other side of the highway.
A seasoned intelligence officer working for a security agency in Kontagora, who declined to give his name, said the ‘unfenced and porous’ army land is the reason bandits have been having a field day invading communities and wreaking havoc, across parts of Niger East. He said the bandits’ camps also served as escape routes for the criminals when other security personnel are mobilized for counter and rescue operations. He said when bandits attack communities surrounding Kontagora town, they fled with their victims and rustled cattle to their camps inside the army land. “Unfortunately, the army will deny us permission to chase the fleeing criminals. We have, on several occasions, informed the military authorities that their domain is used by bandits for cover, but they refused to cooperate with us, often telling us that the people our intelligence reports indicate are bandits, are actually not,” he added.