Armed Fulani herdsmen seize Taraba communities
The Catholic priests in the state, therefore, have charged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, find lasting solution to the unending bloodlettings in the state.
The priests also tasked both governments as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that persons presently domiciling in the various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the nooks and crannies of the state are not disenfranchised from the forthcoming elections.
These were yesterday stated in a communique issued at the end of their 16th Yearly General Assembly held at Saint Charles Borromeo’s Pastoral Centre in Jalingo, the state capital.
The priests, who condemned in strong terms the killings in southern and central parts of the state, which have led to wanton destruction of lives and property, admonished government to immediately facilitate the return of the displaced persons to their homes.
In the communiqué signed by the Catholic Bishop of Jalingo Diocese, the Most Rev. (Dr.) Charles Hammawa, the priests expressed worry over the unending crisis, which had killed many, displaced thousands and property worth millions of naira destroyed.
They, therefore, called on government to ensure that the displaced people, mostly farmers, return to the state, especially now that the farming season is around the corner.
Meanwhile, a civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has said that politicians and other Nigerians promoting violence should be tried and made to surrender the right to hold public office.
The group, therefore, called for the enactment of a law to bar for life anyone guilty of electoral law violations, including hate-speech and violence before, during and after the general elections from being elected or appointed to public office.
Executive Director at SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni, in a statement in Abuja said: “Inciting or perpetrating election-related violence should also be included in the constitution as an explicit stand-alone ground for the impeachment of elected officials.”
According to the communique: “Their houses and farmlands are currently being occupied by armed Fulani men who are not ready to leave.
“In the last three months, two more parishes; Isha and Tella, were destroyed in addition to attacks on villages in Gassol, Wukari, Donga, Ibi and Takum local councils.
“We call on government at all levels to tackle this problem once and for all so that farmers can return to their villages and continue with their farming activities. A situation whereby the people will miss another farming season is totally unacceptable,”
The priests, who further frowned at the situation where a lot of attention are being given to internally-displaced persons from Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states without mention of thousands of displaced people in Taraba State who are currently taking refuge within and outside the state, alleged that some politicians and traditional rulers in some areas in the central senatorial district were in possession of the PVCs of displaced Tiv people who are currently taking refuge elsewhere and called on government and INEC to as a matter of urgency make the PVCs available to their rightful owners.
While calling on government to facilitate reconciliation and peace process between the warring parties so that peace can return, the priests expressed willingness to be part of the reconciliatory process.
The group further said: “It’s patently wrong to allow anyone guilty of hate-speeches and violence around elections to occupy public office. It shouldn’t matter what political party those complicit in these crimes are from. If they have got that kind of charge against them, and they have been convicted, they should surrender the right to hold public office.
“Allowing an elected or appointed official with election-related violence charges to continue to serve demeans the office and sends the message that such behaviour is acceptable.”
“Those who incite and perpetrate violence around elections clearly serve private interests at the public’s expense because innocent citizens are the ultimate victims. If we don’t address violence around elections squarely, we can’t build a strong and participatory democratic process and a law-based society. Barring those responsible for violence from public office should therefore be at the foundation of the architecture of our electoral process.”