The Fulani communities in Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State have called on Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to intervene in what they described as genocide being perpetrated against them.
They alleged that a local militia in the area has been killing Fulanis and destroying their property on the orders of the chairman of the local government, John Yep.
In a statement on Wednesday signed by four of their elders, the Fulani communities said trouble began for them when the militia started protesting the arrest of one Umaru CID, a ring leader of the group in Nguroje town by security operatives.
They said the arrest was as a result of ongoing litigation over a land dispute.
“On the 16th of June, 2017 security personal moved in the early hours and affected some arrests in Nguroje during which some suspected ring leaders of a group that has been fomenting trouble in the area got into the net of the security.
“On getting information about the development, the Chairman of the Local Government, Mr. John Yep immediately led some Mambilla Youths to storm Nguroje alleging that the arrests was instigated by the Fulani. This led to a total siege on Nguroje and its environs,” they said.
They also said while the assault lasted, the council chairman “ran across some villages mobilising his kinsmen under their militia group called ‘Mun Nor Ambassadors of Peace’ being the political attack dogs of a prominent politician from the area.”
“Through this process, the council chairman was able to sell a dummy to his tribesmen across the entire local government painting a wrong and malicious picture that his kinsmen, the Mambilla ethnic group, was being attacked by the Fulanis.
“In fact he made a personal Radio message through the Taraba State Broadcasting Service (TSBS) Gembu Booster Station calling on his kinsmen to execute the genocide on the station’s transmissions of Saturday evening and Sunday morning respectively.
“What followed thereafter was a coordinated and simultaneous attack on over 300 Fulani communities
“It is therefore with a heavy heart that we wish to draw the attention of the world to the ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing being perpetrated against the Fulani in Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State in the last four days.
“This carnage has escalated to all parts of the local government and is still going on with full impunity as the state government has remained unconcerned since then,” they said.
They also said that four days after the violence began, the Taraba State Government has failed in its prime responsibility to protect their lives and property.
They alleged that the state government failed to provide logistics support to the few soldiers deployed to the area.
“It has become necessary to call on the Acting President to as a matter of urgent National Security evoke the relevant sections of the Constitution and also do the needful by declaring emergency rule to allow for full fledge emergency services and the protection of our remaining people.
“We wish to further stress that the magnitude of this senseless killings deserves nothing less than a judicial commission of inquiry to be instituted by the Federal Government and the United Nations as we are not ready to accept any window dressing by the Taraba State Government.
“This is because four days after this carnage the government did not utter even a word nor issue a statement condemning the killings on the Mambilla Plateau,” they said.
The spokesperson of the police in the state, David Misal, who also addressed the journalists on Wednesday in Jalingo, the state capital, said the violence was caused by a civil case handled by a court in Gembu, the local government headquarters which led to the remand of a Mambila man in prison custody.
“The children of the Mambila man went to the home of the complainant, who is a Fulani man by name Mr. Riwi Ahmadu and demanded for the release of their father or else they threatened to deal with him
“When the demand was not met, they actualised their threat by setting ablaze the house of the complainant and inflicted injuries on him and property worth millions were destroyed,” he said.
Mr. Misal also said the police swiftly intervened on the matter and arrested those who attacked Mr. Ahmadu.
He said those arrested are being investigated for “criminal conspiracy, mischief by fire and attempt to commit culpable homicide”.
He also said investigations have indicted some prominent elders in the community and they are being arrested. He said both sides in the conflict took up arms against themselves instead of waiting for the law to take its course.
Mr. Misal said more security personnel comprising of mobile and conventional police officers were deployed to the area and that the state commissioner of police, Yakubu Babas, has relocated to the affected area in order to monitor the situation himself.
On casualty, Mr. Misal said, “seven people are being confirmed dead and a number of houses as earlier stated were set ablaze.”