Special Report – Uttu forest

By Yusuf Maina

Three months after the dislodgement of Darul salam terrorist group in Uttu forest of Toto local government Area of Nasarawa State by the military, residents of deserted communities who fled due to activities of the group have started returning home.

About twenty villages around the Uttu forest were deserted by the inhabitants as a result of continued attacks by the bandits.

Radio Nigeria correspondent Yusuf Usman visited the erstwhile dreaded camp of the terrorist inside Uttu forest now taken over by the military as well as deserted communities where residents are calling for additional security personnel to enable others return home.

The Uttu forest covers a large span of area from Toto local government in Nasarawa to koton karfe in Kogi states and Abaji in the FCT as well as part of Benue state.

Findings by Radio Nigeria revealed that the terrorists group had lived in the forest for over ten years where they unleashed mayhem on communities around, and attack motoris along the Nasarawa -Abaji, koton karfe- lokoja and Toto umaisha roads.

The visit by radio Nigeria crew to the once dreaded Darul salam camp in Uttu forest was the first by any media organisation after Thierry dislodgement by the military in August this year..

The journey to the camp from headquarters of Toto local government lasted about two and half hours on motorcycle. .

Eight military personnel from the kenyehu super camp escorted the crew to the forest camp where the military have established another base to hunt down remnants of the bandits scattered in the forest.

The crew stopped by at some deserted communities along the road to speak with few inhabitants who have returned.

At Turunku village, the community leader, 72 year old TANKO maikasuwa who returned with his family about a month ago,said his wife was kidnapped by the bandits but fortunately rescued by the military before they could take her into the forest.

Maikasuwa said most of the inhabitants of the village are still in Abaji and lokoja scared to come back home.

In karbana village, only few male adults could be seen as they appealed for additional security personnel to the area to restore confidence and enable their families come back home.

The five motorcycles used for the journey were donated by the Chairman of Toto local government Area Prince Nuhu Dauda to enhance operation of the military. .

It was almost dark when the crew finally got to the Uttu forest camp which has become a military camp.

It is important to note that Uttu is a name of a community in the forest which has a primary school built by the MDG programme.

The premises of the two blocks of six classrooms which used to be the hideout of the terrorist group is now taken over by military.

Radio Nigeria crew was allowed to take photographs of only the dilapidated school structure.

After returning from the dreaded Uttu forest camp,I interviewed the Chairman of Toto local government Area Prince Nuhu Dauda on efforts to rebuild the area and restore confidence on the people to return home fully.

Prince Nuhu Dauda said the local government needs a special intervention from the state and federal government to enable it Carter for the citizens who have been devastating by the security situation. .

The traditional Ruler of umaisha,the ohemegye opanda, Alhaji Usman Abdullahi said normalcy has returned to the area and commended effort of the military. .

Though normal activities have been restored in Toto local government but residents are still grappling with lack of basic amenities and needs attention of government at all levels. ..

Deserted communities
Deserted communities
Dilapidated school at Uttu forest
inside the uttu forest

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