Taraba villages still ghost towns weeks after attacks
Even though relative peace has returned to villages recently razed down in a feud involving herdsmen, and communities in Lau Local Council of Taraba State, the affected villages are still effectively ghost towns deserted by the erstwhile inhabitants for fear of reprisal attacks.
Matters are not helped by the glaring absence of security operatives in the affected areas, which their presence would have, to an extent, given the residents a sense of security.
The unrest, which led to wanton destruction of lives and properties would, many fear, no doubt lead to food scarcity as the displaced persons, who are now taking refuge in various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps across the state are predominantly farmers.
From Yoti to Galadimawa, Bujum-Waya, Bujum-Yashi, Mayo-Lope, Bujum-Wagure to Bujum-Kasuwa to mention just a few communities, the scars left by the clash are still visible, just as hardship remains the order of the day.
A recent visit by The Guardian to the affected communities, in the company of security operatives, showed that all is still not well with the affected communities.
As concerned ethnic groups continue to count their loses, no fewer than 73 persons were allegedly killed in the crisis, which lasted two weeks, while about 50 villages were burnt down.
While the clashes lasted, farm produce, houses were not only destroyed, several women, children and the elderly were also killed.
The few men that summed up courage to return to their villages to bury the dead, want the Federal Government held responsible for the loss of lives over its failure to take positive steps towards putting an end to the “senseless killings.”
“The only way our people can be convinced to come back to the community is when there is massive presence of security operatives,” said Bitrus Dare, one of the few, who returned home from the IDP Camp.
Also not comfortable with the situation, the chairman of Lau Local Council, Nicholas Waniyafi Wani, said even though the state government is doing its bid by being proactive, there is the compelling need for the Federal Government to collaborate with it in providing adequate security for the people of the affected villages.
Wani regretted that the crisis, which also led to the misplacement and burning of several hundreds of Permanent Voter Cards (PVC), pointing out that this would lead to disenfranchising eligible voters in the next elections.
The Chairman of the of the Taraba Chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Sahabi Mahmoud Tukur, told The Guardian that that the clashes, have claimed over 20 of his members, adding that over 3, 000 displaced Hausa-Fulanis, mainly women and children, who fled the area were currently taking refuge at the Muslim Council secretariat in Jalingo, and in other neighboring local councils.
Tukur described as “unfortunate,” the fact that since the displaced persons arrived the Muslim Council Secretariat, in Jalingo, no government official has visited the camp or provided any relief material to the victims.
Aaron Artimas, an elder of Yandang Community claimed that more than 50 persons from his side of Yandang and others tribes have been confirmed dead arising from the conflicts.
Artimas who said the Hausa-Fulani, Yandang, Mimuye, Yoti, among other tribes have lived in the area as brothers and sisters without problems for centuries, blamed the recent recurring conflicts on incitement from outside the area, by people whom he said, want to remain politically relevant.
Artimas alleged that militia from neighboring Adamawa State have infiltrated Babagasa, a border village between Taraba and Adamawa states and have been wrecking havoc on surrounding villages in Lau Local Council.
According to him, over 2, 000 displaced persons from the affected villages were currently taking refuge at the Central Primary School, Jalingo, and other villages such Sunkani, Apawa, Zing and Bali Taraba, while several others have fled to Gorobi, Sabon-Gida, Bujum and Mayo-Belwa in Adamawa State.
He also lamented that since the arrival of IDPs in their current location, they have been living at the mercy of God and good spirited individuals, who have been taking food from their houses to them.
Dr. Alfred Kobiba, who spoke on behalf of the leadership of the Yandan Elders Forum, alleged that the attacks and killings carried out by the “Fulani herdsmen.”
Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku, who is very uncomfortable with the situation, recently said the clashes and sundry security challenges in the state have continued simply because of the Federal Government’s refusal to throw its weight behind state police.
The state’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) David Misal, who confirmed the incident said the command was doing all within its powers to ensure that normalcy returns to affected areas, and perpetrators brought to justice.