Some residents of Magamar Jibia community, located within the Nigeria-Niger border of Katsina, have accused security personnel of treating them like Nigeriens.
The people made the allegation in an interview on Tuesday.
They claimed that their rights were being violated daily by unidentified officials of the Nigeria Customs Service.
According to Dayyabu Muhammad, the security operatives on the Katsina-Jibia road always go after them whenever they move with grains bought from Katsina.
“Whenever we buy grains, especially maize, security operatives, especially men of the NCS, always block us on our way to our communities around the border area. In most cases, I spend not less than N12,000 extra before reaching home whenever I am conveying goods bought for consumption.
“These security operatives have almost 37 checkpoints from Katsina to Jibia, which is not more than 47 kilometres. At each checkpoint, they extort money from us,” Mr Muhammad alleged.
The Jibia resident added, “As Nigerians, we cannot buy food items from the city and take them to our family without being harassed.”
Mr Muhammad also regretted the constant attacks by bandits who had made life “unbearable” for them.
Another resident, Abdullahi Musa, alleged that the security operatives in the area were not protecting them against bandits.
“When bandits attack, they hardly come at the right time,” Mr Musa claimed. “In spite of the numerous checkpoints, the bandits find their way to come and attack us.”
Mr Musa noted that the uniformed men know all the illegal routes.
“These are the places they should block, not the road,” he said.
Mr Musa regretted the border closure and declared that he had over N2 million before the closure, “but since the closure, things have gone so bad.”
Mr Musa explained that the hardship facing the community was due to the border closure which caused a lull in the economy of the area.
“The situation is worsened by the fact that 90 per cent of our farmers no longer farm because of insecurity. We are starving; there is hunger,” Mr Musa lamented. “Our politicians are not helping matters; they only come to us when they need our votes. We hardly see them after the election.”
A spare parts dealer in the area, Abubakar Muhammad, said he closed his business because of the lack of patronage.
“Most of my customers come from Niger Republic and other communities around, but the insecurity has hindered them from coming,” said Mr Muhammad.
The residents appealed to government at all levels, security agencies and politicians to come to their aid and find a lasting solution to the security problems in the area.
Reacting to the allegations, customs spokesman in Katsina, Tahir Balarabe, advised the residents to report any officer demanding money from them.
Mr Balarabe said, “The command has been doing its best to sanitise its operations. We are always ready to deal with any of its operatives found wanting.”