Group rejects military panel report on Taraba’s pogrom
The Jukun Development Association of Nigeria (JDAN) has rejected the report by a panel set up by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai to probe the allegation of collusion by former Minister of Defence, Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, against the military in the killings in parts of Taraba State.
At a press conference in Ikoyi, Lagos, JDAN National President Chief Bako Benjamin, said the report could best be described as a “shoddy job fit for the waste bin.” He lamented that rather than give hope of justice to families of the innocent farmers and other villagers hacked down by the herdsmen, the army merely engaged in “empty rhetoric” of setting up of panels to cleanse itself of wrongdoing. A practice, which he noted, was becoming “notorious.”
According to him, the military “again missed another opportunity to cleanse itself of allegations of gross abuse levelled against them not only by Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma but by a number of other human rights organizations, including Amnesty International (AI).
“The Nigerian army panel did a very poor and unprofessional job and wasted the opportunity to scribble its name in gold. The report is unacceptable to Jukun people and therefore it is hereby rejected in its entirety.”
The 10-member committee recently submitted its report to the army chief wherein the force was given a clean bill of health.Benjamin, however, wondered why the principal characters, the herdsmen, accused of precipitating the crisis that gave birth to Danjuma’s claim, were never mentioned in the report.
The panel, he further stated, almost completely avoided the main subject of the matter – the attacks and killing of farmers and innocent villagers – but addressed porous borders and previous misunderstandings between brothers in a “deliberate attempt to stir up tempers and portray the Jukun as historically troublesome.”
Benjamin noted: “It is also curious that the panel deliberately refused to use a single material out of the hundreds of documented paper works, audio and video recordings of eye witnesses, community leaders and youth groups with shocking and gruesome evidences of ethnic cleansing and genocide in more than 20 villages across southern Taraba.”
Benjamin said Amnesty International’s claims against the army were not far-fetched, adding: “ The force must come to terms with its enormous responsibility to keep this country united. It must also realise that it owes Nigerian citizens a duty to be unbiased and thoroughly professional under a democratic government. It must completely shun the temptation to play to the gallery.”
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