Taraba attack: Nigeria failed to act on our intelligence Says Sako
The President of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia (former British Southern Cameroons), Dr. Samuel Ikome Sako, has disowned the allegation that his country was responsible for the recent attack on Taraba community, describing the situation as unfortunate.
Recall that on November 17, 2021, about11 persons, including the traditional ruler, were confirmed dead in an attack allegedly carried out by a separatist group from neighbouring Cameroon, who invaded Manga village in Takum Local Council of Taraba State.
Confirming the incident, a brother to the slain monarch said the separatists from the neighbouring country had earlier attacked a community in Cameroun before finding their way into Taraba.
“My elder brother, who is the traditional ruler of the village, was killed. The foreign soldiers killed him in his palace before going ahead to kill other people in the community,” he said.
Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP, Taraba South) had raised the alarm that some separatists from Southern Cameroon are trying to dominate Manga community in Takum Local Council of Taraba State.
The Senate Deputy Minority Leader described the attack as a slap on Nigeria’s territorial sovereignty. Disclosing this at the plenary, the lawmaker also confirmed that the Ambazonian separatists from Southern Cameroon killed the head of Manga community and some residents.
The lawmaker said Manga village is 20 kilometres away from Kashimbilla Dam and called on the military to immediately swing into action to prevent the eventual occupation of Manga community by the separatists.
But Sako, who was saddened by the loss of innocent lives in the attack, regretted that the Nigerian authorities failed to take action on an intelligence he earlier shared on a plot to attack Nigeria and put the blame on the Ambazonia Restoration Forces (ARF).
In a virtual interview with The Guardian published on September 18, 2021, Sako had warned the Nigerian government of an impending attack on the country.
In the interview with headline, ‘Our quest for Federal Republic of Ambazonia is of no threat to Nigeria’, Sako revealed, “Today, I have an intelligence I should share with the Nigerian government; this is very crucial. There is a plot to particularly target and assassinate Nigeria’s coast guards and border officers. Cameroonian coastal forces will camouflage as Ambazonians before they commit this atrocity, just to outrage the international community. From the land and maritime borders from Cross River, Taraba and Akwa Ibom, they will kill these people and even disguise themselves with our traditional emblems. They will also make a proclamation in a video claiming that they are Ambazonians. They will try to persuade the Nigerian government and the entire world to declare us as terrorists. So, we are cautioning the Nigerian government as a whole to be on their guard.”
He continued: “They want to tag our own refugees in Nigeria as terrorists, so they can be forced out of their refuge; this is an extermination project. They are trying to provoke Nigerians into a senseless war; that is the intelligence we have received. The variations might be changed, because they know that we are aware. But beware that they are trying to frame Ambazonians. Over 125,000 of our people are currently being protected in Nigeria as refugees; they hope to disrupt this.”
In the same interview, Sako denied any relationship between Ambazinia and the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), adding, “there is one activist who carried out a propaganda stunt to attract some money from IPOB agitators around the world; a social media personality did that. The people of the Southern Cameroons that we represent have not endorsed any form of alliance with IPOB. We cannot afford to antagonise the authorities that have shown much hospitality to our people. We have not taken and we will not take that position.”
Responding on the question about the relationship between Nigeria and Ambazonia during the interview, he said, “There’s a difference between the Nigerian people and the ruling class. The Nigerian people are very understanding, especially those across Taraba, Cross River and Akwa-Ibom; our people have been received in their numbers. The churches there are helping. At that level, there has been no problem; it has been a wonderful hospitality that our people have enjoyed.
“When it comes to the ruling class, that is the leadership, they have come under severe manipulations from the French-orchestrated propaganda. They have used the Biafra thing as a boogeyman. Initially, they also tried to convince them that our aspirations are the same. I want to make it clear that, as much as every people has a right to self-determination, to compare the IPOB claim to the Ambazonia case is unacceptable.”
Reacting to allegation that his people were responsible for the Taraba attack, Sako, in a statement, said, “First, the Interim Government is saddened by the loss of innocent lives, a happening we are well too familiar with, as it is a daily occurrence in our territory – Ambazonia. On behalf of the people of Ambazonia, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families, the peace-loving people of Taraba State and all Nigerians.
“The Interim Government, by this statement, categorically denies this allegation made against her and is informing the Nigerian authorities, the government of Nigeria, the people of Nigeria and the international community at large that, our Ambazonia Restoration Forces whose main objective is to protect the vulnerable people of Ambazonia are being framed up by French Cameroon aka The Republic of Cameroon. According to the eyewitness Mr Manga, the gunmen arrived in speedboats with sophisticated weapons. Our Ambazonia Restoration Forces are guerrilla fighters and do not have speedboats or sophisticated weapons, as described by the eyewitness. They are committed to defending Ambazonians in our territory and will have no interest in encroaching into Nigerian territory, which is host to most of our refugees fleeing from the genocide in our territory; let alone attacking their civilians.”
He said the timing of this attack is another strategic move by the Yaounde regime of the Republic of Cameroon to discredit their cause to the international community.
“It is no coincidence that this atrocious attack is occurring during the maiden visit of the United States Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs, Mr Antony Blinken to Nigeria.
“It is rather unfortunate that the authorities in Nigeria did not take this intelligence seriously and now that it has happened, ‘Ambazonian Separatists’ are falsely accused of perpetrating the attack. It does not benefit Ambazonians and the cause they are fighting for, to attack the hospitable people of Taraba State or any neighbouring state in Nigeria. Presently, there are more 3 | F R A than 60.000 registered Ambazonian refugees, as well as hundreds of thousands of others, unregistered. These refugees are our grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters and children and there’s absolutely no rationale for any of our ARF to attack those who have provided our desperate and embattled people a temporary haven away from Ambazonia.”
While calling on the Nigerian Government to investigate this matter thoroughly so that justice can be served, Sako said, “It is also worth reminding the International Community and the Nigerian Government of our numerous press releases refuting the existence of any alliance between the Ambazonian Interim Government and any Nigerian political or separatist movement. Once more, we appreciate the hospitality of the people of Nigeria towards our refugees. We are also grateful to the Nigerian press for sharing our story in the past few months. We hope they continue to do so, for the sake of truth and justice, especially at this time when the worst genocide so far in the 21st century, is being classified as the least covered by the international media.”