SOLDIERS have been deployed to troubled areas in Taraba State where ethnic militiamen attacked dozens of Fulani villages in the last four days resulting in heavy casualties.
Scores were killed and hundreds of houses destroyed in the attacks said to have been carried out by Mambilla militiamen.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday directed that an extra military battalion, police reinforcements and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps be deployed to the affected areas, his spokesman, Laolu Akande, said.
The acting president has also summoned top security officials and Governor Darius Ishaku for an emergency meeting over the recent attacks, his spokesman said.
Mr. Akande, who disclosed this in a statement yesterday, said his boss condemned the attacks and vowed to bring the perpetrators to book.
The acting president commiserated with the victims of the violent attacks.
He also ordered that relief materials be delivered to the affected communities of Toffi, Mayo Daga, Mayo Sina, Tamiya, Kwara-Kwara, Tungan Lugere, Timjire, Nguroje and other villages in the hinterlands of Mambilla Plateau.
According to the statement, the Federal Government has also put in motion, long-time solutions, including mediation between opposing groups in the communal conflict.
Meanwhile reports from Taraba said the militia had withdrawn from the villages they attacked in Sardauna Local Government Area of the state.
It was gathered that hundreds of soldiers were deployed to the troubled area from Yola, Serti and Takum.
The soldiers and mobile police, it was further gathered, have started moving into remote parts where hundreds of people, including the injured, women and children have been trapped for days.
A resident of Mayo Ndaga, one of the communities attacked, Malam Hassan Dattijo, told Daily Trust that the militiamen, as if informed of deployment of soldiers, have withdrawn from the area.
He said evacuation of those wounded, children and women has started while dead bodies were also recovered.
“The arrival of heavy security was a relief because those trapped could be evacuated and the wounded receive medical attention,” he said.
Malam Hassan disclosed that hundreds of refugees that escaped to Cameroon were received at four border towns by authorities in that country.
He said there was urgent need for relief materials because the militiamen had burnt food items and other properties during the attacks.
Malam Hassan commended Acting president Yemi Osibanjo for coming to their aid by deploying heavy security in the area.
Impose emergency in Taraba – Pastoralists
The Pastoral Resolve (PARE) yesterday called for the declaration of state of emergency in the state to stop the killings and restore order.
The acting Executive Director of the organisation Saleh B. Momale made the call yesterday in Abuja at a press briefing over the incident.
Momale said the violence has led to the killings of over 90 people with over 15, 000 cows wounded and allowed to die in horrific manners.
He said while it was not the time for blame game, the federal government must immediately wade into the crisis to arrest its escalation and the attendant humanitarian crisis.
“Sadly, to this moment, there is no humanitarian response. Similarly, house belonging to all Fulani people within the areas of the local government dominated by the Mambilla tribesmen were looted and burnt from Nguroje to Dorofi,” he said.
According to Momale, the state government has not shown interest in stopping the crisis.
“No efforts have been made to deploy Police to the affected areas to contain the violence. The state government albeit reluctantly imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew which locked everyone else indoor in major towns, while allowing the militia free movement to continue to unleash terror in Fulani settlements outside the urban centres,” he said.
He said few military officers were deployed by the federal government and that they were not enough to contain the violence especially in the vast Mambilla Plateau.
He said: “We appeal to the federal government to urgently declare a State of Emergency in Taraba State and suspend all the state democratic structures which have proven to be partisan and also instigators in the ongoing violence.”
Gov vows to punish culprits
Meanwhile, Governor Darius Ishaku has vowed to hunt down perpetrators of violence, even as he sends his heartfelt condolences to victims of crisis in parts of Sardauna local government.
The governor said all lives in the state are his to protect through the mandate he got from the electorate.
Speaking through his Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Emmanuel Bello, Governor Ishaku said he was deeply touched by the death of anyone, let alone that of citizens of the state.
He said, “Those who know me would attest to the fact that I get emotional when anyone dies. I see people through a different prism from others. I actually see everyone as related to me in one way or the other. So when I hear of these deaths, the first thing I asked myself is whose father or whose son or daughter has been killed.
“My heart automatically goes to their families and friends. I have always said fighting is getting out-dated. Why should anyone fight when there are very effective means available to settle disputes? Let me profoundly condole families of the deceased. We cannot bring back loved ones but we shall bring closure by way of justice. Don’t seek revenge. We are here as a government to find and deal with perpetrators of evil.”
The governor said politicians should not exaggerate the number of casualties, adding that “the representative of the IGP here, who is the DIG, has the correct figures and they are single digits.”
50 killed, 20,000 cows stolen – Senator
Vice Chairman of the Senate Commmitee on Science and Technology, Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (APC, Taraba Central) yesterday said 50 Fulanis have been killed in the latest attack by the Mambilla tribe in Taraba Central Senatorial District.
In an interview with our correspondent yesterday, Yusuf said the attack on Fulani that started on Friday has continued unabated.
He said over 50 settlements have been burnt down and that 20,000 cows have been killed or stolen by the attackers who he said are mainly of Mambilla tribe.
“It is very serious matter. I don’t if we can call it ethnic cleansing but it is something like that. People are killed, animals are being killed, people are being displaced. We have worked so hard with men of the security including the Army, Airforce, Police and the Department of State Services. They have limited number of troops but the Federal Government has posted more.
“The Taraba State Government has not played a very active role in all what is happening. It’s the Federal government that has been assisting but the situation is still bad. Up till now, the carnage has continued. They are killing people and animals. They are still doing the havoc, “he said.
The lawmaker said the attack on the Fulani started on Friday following the arrest of the leader of the Mambilla militia group, one CID Umar by the security operatives.
“The security men identified one guy who they feel was spearheading the attack. They arrested him along with two others and they were taken to Jalingo. His kinsmen protested that he must be released,” he said.
He however said it was not all the Mambilla tribe that are involved in the killings, saying, “it’s some few of them that involved.”
He said the only way to find lasting solution to the crisis was for the leaders to come together, sit down and have face to face stakeholders meeting to thrash out all the speculations and accusations relating to the upheaval.
On the attitude of the Taraba state Governor, Darius Dickson Ishaku, he said, “I’m not aware of what he has done as the Chief Security officer of the state but I know have worked hard to reach out to the security agencies and even the acting President”.
MACBAN expresses shock over attacks on herdsmen
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria is shocked and terrified by the wanton destruction of lives and cattle going on in Gembu-mambila area in Sardauna Local Government Taraba State.
Baba Othman Ngelzarma, MACBAN National Secretary in an interview with Daily Trust yesterday said that it is tragic to note that as at last count over 100 Fulanis have been assumed killed already; several injured; others missing and over 15,000 cattle either killed, maimed or rustled. - Daily Trust