Governor Jonah Jang
By Seriki Adinoyi
“We have lost our homes and everything in them. Our sons and daughters have been slain; our husbands can no longer visit their farms; we are in hunger and distress. We would rather flee this village than die here either by the sword of the Fulani herdsmen or in hunger.”
This was the lamentation of Berom women, who have lost virtually all they had to Fulani persistent attacks, as they flee Kak village in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State, after a recent attack that claimed the lives of over 10 persons.
Meanwhile, the member representing Riyom constituency in the state House of Assembly, Hon. Daniel Dem, and a team of journalists, who had gone to the affected villages for on-the-spot assessment narrowly escaped death at Kak village when a group of armed Fulani herdsmen attacked the village.
Riyom Local Government has been under Fulani attack in the last three weeks with the recent one being on Monday night when over 10 persons were slain and scores of houses torched. Their representative in the state House of Assembly had therefore led a team of journalists from Jos, the state headquarters, to assess situation.
The lawmaker and the journalists were in the village at about 10:30am yesterday interviewing victims and cross-checking facts with Nigeria Red Cross members when the armed Fulani herdsmen struck again. They hid behind nearby rocks and fired gun shots sporadically into the village.
Dem and the journalists had to abandon their vehicles and ran into the bush to take cover, after which they immediately escaped from the village.
The villagers, who had earlier gathered their luggage to flee the village, were not left behind. The villagers had returned to the village from their displaced camps to evacuate their food stuff and domestic animals when the lawmaker and journalists visited.
Among the journalists who escaped death were Yusufu Aminu of The Nation, Yemi Kosoko of Channels Television, Hilary Kasmir of Nigeria Standard, Samson Omale of Silverbird Television, and their counterparts from the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and the state Radio and Television Corporation (PRTVC).
Dem, who after escaping to safety and could not hold back tears, said: “I have witnessed it live. I thought it was a joke, I never knew this is what my people have been passing through. I had a close shave with death, you newsmen have seen it yourselves that the victims are not just telling lies about their predicament.
“I’m happy no journalist is hurt, but my people are in danger. There is no security to help them out. Government knows about the problem, security agents know of the attacks, but no one is responding to my distress call.
“I mean the Federal Government imposed a state of emergency on this council yet all these things are still happening. The worst the government has done is to withhold the monthly allocation of this local government, such that there is no fund to handle the security challenges.”
“Federal Government has no reason holding monthly allocation of councils under state of emergency. The idea is compounding their problems; it is high time these withheld allocations were released or they should send special funds for emergency administration," he added.
So far, the Fulani have attacked over 10 Berom villages in the last three weeks, with attendant loss of lives. The villages include Tahoss, Bangai, Sopp, Angwa Werem, Dajol, Sho, Dung, Bashit, Fan, Rwa and Gwom.
Residents of the attacked villages have fled to other villages that may also be victims in the near future.