Solar street light at Wurno community. Photograph: Promise Eze

By Promise Eze

42-year-old Basiru Hassan will forever remember the four occasions when thieves broke into his provision store in the middle of the night. The traumatic experience continues to haunt him, and he struggles to put the ordeal into words.

In a recent interview with UDEME, the father of nine children said the criminals were able to carry out their acts due to the absence of streetlights at the time.

“Even the vigilantes were caught off guard because they couldn’t detect when the thieves entered and exited my shop. The darkness on the street made it impossible to spot the thieves. Honestly, I can’t even estimate the extent of my losses due to this challenge, but it has left me deeply depressed,” he said.

Mr Hassan’s store is located in the heart of Wurno in Wurno local government, a town situated 50 kilometres away from Sokoto metropolis. Like other areas far from the metropolis, Wurno has been grappling with security issues plaguing Sokoto state and the entire northwestern region of Nigeria.

Basiru Hassan in his store. Photograph: Promise Eze

For example, on June 4, 2023, the community members in the Tangaza Local Government Area (LGA) of Sokoto State were plunged into mourning due to a raid by suspected armed bandits, resulting in the death of over 35 individuals.

In Wurno, residents face the constant threat of robbery at night or sporadic disturbances caused by criminals.

A glimmer of hope

Amidst these challenging circumstances, a glimmer of hope emerged through the efforts of Ibrahim Aliyu, the former representative of Wurno/Rabah Federal Constituency at the Federal House of Assembly.

Recognising the pressing need for improved security measures, Mr Aliyu spearheaded a project to install solar street lights in the community as part of his yearly constituency project. The project is under the 2022 Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIPs).

The project was awarded to RAREGEODE Company Limited by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing for N34 million. The project was implemented in different areas of the town. The street lights were installed in different parts such as the market, the palace area and some other streets. Residents say work began on the project in December 2022 and was completed in February 2023.

Fifty all-in-one solar street lights were commissioned, casting both literal and metaphorical light on the community.  

Positive feedback

This reporter, who visited in March and June, noticed that the project in the community was well executed.

“Ever since these lights were installed, my store has never been broken into. The presence of these solar lights undeniably contributes greatly to reducing the activities of criminals in Wurno

“From a distance, you can easily spot who is coming and going,” Mr Hassan boasted.

Mr Hassan is not the only one with a testimony to share about the tremendous improvement in security brought about by the installation of streetlights.

Nasuru Musa, the owner of a phone charging shop, has also experienced significant changes. 

Over a period of 10 years, he had lost no fewer than 40 phones to thieves. The 43-year-old recalled how thieves would exploit the cover of darkness to sneak into his shop and steal electronic gadgets.

“For many years, I faced this significant problem. Thieves would come in the night, break into my shop, and steal all the phones and accessories that customers had brought for charging. My shop was broken into more than ten times. On one occasion, the thieves took away 15 Android phones, 25 small phones, three mp3 players, and numerous stolen batteries. Another time, they broke in and stole my generator, laptop, which I had bought for about seventy thousand naira, and other accessories.

“I have records with all the security agencies in Wurno because some of the phone owners didn’t want to bear the loss, so I had to compensate them for the phones that were stolen from my shop,” he explained.

More testimonies

Another resident, Ozioma Godwin said the installation of the lights now gives her the confidence to walk freely at night.

“Before the installation of the solar lights, I couldn’t go out in the dark at night because there was no light. But now, I can go anywhere I wish at night,” she said.

Yahaya Bello, a 20-year-old member of the vigilante in Wurno local government, used to patrol the vicinity with dane guns and machetes at night to watch out for robbers and kidnappers.

But it wasn’t easy. Wurno was pitch black at night with no streetlights. Thieves and pickpockets would take advantage of the darkness to rob villagers of their phones and valuables at night. The darkness also provided cover for bandit informants to slip in unnoticed, moving from place to place to identify the next victim of kidnappers.

“At that time, it was extremely difficult to safeguard the town. We had to rely on our torchlights, but it wasn’t enough. There were instances of people being robbed at night, and when they cried for help and we tried to chase the thieves, the darkness would serve as a fine cover for them to escape,” Mr Bello said.


This report was produced under the UDEME project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID).

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